Reblogged: An open letter to the Daily Mail…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2014 by fibrefairy


Hammer meet nail head

This made me cry,  it has so much truth.  MrF is a trustee of a charity that runs basics banks in our  city.  Again & again he says how people don’t access footbanks because they can but because they have no other choice; it’s humiliating and embarrassing and for most people they only do it because theres simply no other option  So thank God they exist;  if only they didn’t need to.  Thank God too there are so many in this world like this blogger bringing up the next generation to understand it’s always better to start with grace & generosity. So what if a few abuse that?  I’d rather take that risk than the alternative.

An open letter to the Daily Mail….

“it is finished”

Posted in faith, sermons with tags , , , on April 18, 2014 by fibrefairy


“It is finished.”

Like a voice exercise in a drama class it can be hard to know where to put the emphasis in these short three words.

IT is finished

It IS finished


And what is it that is finished, and why and how?

Do we read these words as a sigh, a giving in?

Much like at the end of a day,  I’m finished –as we collapse into the sofa with our particular poison – be it trash TV,  a cold glass, a onsie ;)

or after the battle with a dilemma, a puzzle, a situation, – when it’s more that it has finished us, than we it?

Is it triumphant & angry –the expulsion of energy and passion as we gain mastery over a problem, a flatpack bookcase, a flat  tyre?

When Jesus utters these words, what does he mean, what is he saying?

What is finished?

For Jesus “ it is finished” is not just about his life being at an end ;

though it is that; the incarnate being of God comes to an end, flesh fails, ends, is done in, is finished.

He’s not talking about the end of the road for his work.

Yes the ministry he had for three years is over, at least in the way it was;  no more travelling, and wandering and preaching to crowds, and speaking to, drawing in, those on the edges, this now , is finished.

He’s not either talking about the hope they had just a few days ago; the Hosannas and the palm branches, the hope of a King come to save; though that dream is over,  at least in the way it was dreamt by that crowd.

He’s not talking about the end of the relationships he’d built and nurtured; though for sure they have passed.

Peter is still mired in his guilt and shame for denying his Lord. Everyone but John and the women have run off; those easy, if bewildered friendships have now come to an end,

at least in the form that they were.


It is is done, it is complete.

Jesus has shown us who God is, what love is; on the cross  that is fully shown, fully expounded.


There is nothing more to be said.

In love to the death Jesus opens up for us the love of God, there is nothing he will not do.

Love is thrown wide,

God is made known, arms stretched, pain wracked, heart torn.

God has finished what he set out to do; to bring love and acceptance to all his creation.

To restore and to heal,  to live in and through the pain.

On the cross as Jesus died,  love obliterated sin and pain and brokenness.

Love broke apart everything that tears us up and breaks us down.

Love has finished , completed,  dealt with,  what we in our sin had wrecked & broken.

Love restores us to God.

On the cross love shows us the way to God; though  & beyond the pain of sin not round it, ignoring it and skirting the issue.

It *is* finished.

The chains are broken,

God is ultimately revealed,

the picture is finished, the work is done.

Through death, the end of death itself.

The gate opens; “It is finished” is just the beginning.



sewing, soul space & Stanford

Posted in faith, fibres, sewing, Uncategorized on April 13, 2014 by fibrefairy


One of the reasons I don’t sew   often enough is the fact that since we moved here I don’t have the luxury of a space where I can leave the machines out – making it easier to do the odd half hour here & there. I have a desk in my study  ( in fact  it used to be my sewing table back in the day – its a big old oak dining table with pull leaves I bought for £30) but its rarely clear,  and in constant use for work anyway! otherwise it’s the dining table, which here is in the kitchen.  I miss sewing, I miss the rhythm and the  mental change, the way my thoughts  think and  ideas float in & out as I do something I’ve done for many years, and create something totally new. Sometimes  the mental challenge is in the construction -which way does this go?. Other times I can listen to the radio or to music and  sort of zone out – or rather in.

This afternoon, after enjoying the spring sun in the garden for a bit  I decided to get oh with it -my desk was tidy enough to clear for at least one machine -I had my  ancient Bernina   my overlocker serviced recently too – and I had two small pinafores cut out & ready to sew.

They are Flossie’s Pinafore from Jeanette at Lazy Seamstress  who I’ve known for, ooh ages thanks  to the wonder of the internet  and she’s now designing some beautiful children’s clothes. This pinnie is the sort of thing I’d have made for my girls back when they were tiny,  and I hadn’t been able to resist either the pinafore or the sale at sewbox and so I’d decided to make them for my two little nieces who are about the same  age difference as my two and fourteen years younger!

Having done the cutting  meant I got both of them sewn today! I have the matching bloomers cut out too but  my stash has failed to yield the right width of elastic,  so  that will wait..

Its a very simple but beautifully done pattern Jeanette’s instructions are  very clear and almost soothing. If you were a beginner you could easily make this pattern. for me making something small and the attention to detail that oozes from the  instructions made me slow down and be as precise as I could be. I can be  a quick & dirty type of sewer,  last minute, getting it done,  taking short cuts. Patrick & May would through up their hands in horror! but I do*know* how to sew, and I particularly enjoy doing small clothes well!

Today marks the start of Holy Week, it can be a crazy manic week for clergy, but I always want it to be still and contemplative with space for thought & reflection. sometimes we can search for that in the ” wrong” places. forgetting that there are all sorts of activities that feed our souls, and give us space for thought and even prayer, they don’t have to be “religious” . The peace of my study,  late afternoon sunshine  a Stanford evensong setting on the ipod speakers and the sewing was what I needed. Maybe I need to remember that this week. Creative space for Holy week.


ps Mum, you know nothing about these!


Lent 3: re-imagining the church

Posted in Uncategorized on March 22, 2014 by fibrefairy

Lent3: Re-imagining the church   John 4:5-42

We re-imagine the Church intentionally connecting and engaging with our local communities in culturally relevant ways. We will rejoice in the richness of the “mixed economy” of all ministry and proactively promote vibrant parochial and breathtaking pioneering ministries amongst ‘missing’ generations, eg children, young people, under 35s.

We’ve all seen the headlines! “Church attendance is on the decline”,  C of E on its last legs, Religion is dead, no one cares..

People are more likely to put Jedi Knight as their religion on the census form than turn to up church week in week out…

people just don’t walk through the doors any more in the way they used to, perhaps in the way we think they should?

Is it true? well yes, this is what the stats  tell us,  -

There are a few exceptions of course, in terms of Sunday mornings, big churches, often in cities, but elsewhere the numbers are sliding, slowly but surely away from traditional Sunday morning church attendance.

Why is it?  It’s certainly tempting to see it as “their” problem. We’ve not changed, here we are still in church, they know where we are, we’ve not moved.

But maybe if we think about it, maybe that’s the problem.

We know how busy life is, we’ve all said “well the children all play sport on Sundays now…” and we bemoan Sunday opening and the fact that everyone is shopping and going out just as on any other day of the week.

What is it we’re mourning?  Is it full churches, families doing things together?  Is it simply the past, or is it the fact that so many people have no idea about who God is and the transformation he can bring to lives?

Maybe, just maybe if there’s even a little of the latter its time not to wonder why  people don’t come to church but to wonder what we can do to make church different, to take church out of its walls,  to break open its musty hymn book image and bring the message of the Kingdom to those around us.

To re-imagine the church.

Our second Diocesan priority says we aim to be a diocese   that re-imagines church. Church is not just the stones and tiles of this building, church is us, church is the meeting of people following Jesus, and church can be all sorts of things.

Reimagining church doesn’t mean to start with that we go all modern & trendy, in the worst sort of stereotypical ways!

Re imagining the church is not just rearranging the furniture, and painting the walls – though it can be part of it.

Reimagining the church is about understanding what will bring the message of Jesus to the people who live and work and spend their free time in our community, its working out how we bring that message best to those who might otherwise not hear it. It’s doing things well and doing things differently. Whether that is Choral Evensong, done amazingly or Messy church after school. It could be coffee & chat & bible study for young parents, or a coffee shop drop-in for teenagers. It might be a band leading worship on a Saturday night or a quiet 8am communion with breakfast served afterwards.

The areas of church life where there is growth are areas where things are being done differently, Fresh expressions of all sorts, new thinking, willingness to change…

In our reading this morning Jesus says to the disciples “look around you and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting”

The workers go out to the fields to harvest, they don’t wait for the fields to come to them, they use the methods that will work according to what crops they are growing.

As we reimagine church we know that we cannot do everything ourselves, no one community can, and so we need too to listen to Jesus’ words, “one sows and another reaps”

We work together, in our community, in our deanery, in our diocese, across the world,

As church communities often our role, our place is to grow those who go out, – many of those being trained and ordained at the moment are what are known as pioneer ministers, they have a calling to do church differently. To set up meeting places and talking places where people gather, to give people who would never cross the step of a church building the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus, to build community  and church outside of the structures we know & love, but they cannot do that without support, without prayer, without traditional church working with them,

None of this is either or, it’s both and.

Last week’s Gospel was about Nicodemus, who came to Jesus… today’s is about the Samaritan woman, whom Jesus went out to meet.

Here are two models for us, meeting people, who come to us, who ask; who follow this more traditional model, Nicodemus was establishment – a Pharisee, an example perhaps of tradition.

And the Samaritan women, the misfit, the outcast, whom Jesus met where she was, something different, something unusual.

For all of us though whether working with traditional inherited models of church or pioneering new ways of being, we should remember two main points from today’s gospel

Firstly, Church is inclusive not exclusive

When Jesus met the woman at the well all traditions and rules stated that he should keep well away, not talk to her, she was a woman, and probably not well respected given that she was at the well at midday, not with the other women,

And she was a Samaritan, with whom Jews did not communicate

Jesus ignored all that and spoke to her needs, into her heart he included her, he welcomed her despite her background and her reputation.

We too need to do that in our churches and in our pioneering. We need to include those we might shy away from, the unlovely and the marginalised, -this is what the Kingdom is, and this is what church is…

It can be uncomfortable, it can make us vulnerable, but welcoming and loving everyone we meet in the name of Jesus is what we need to be about in being church together.

Secondly we need to remember that where we worship and how we worship is less important than the why and the who.

The Samaritan woman questioned Jesus, as Jews & Samaritans believed that different places (the mountain, and Jerusalem
) were the “right” place to worship. Jesus tells her that true worshipers worship the father in Spirit and in truth.

We all have ways & styles of worship we prefer, and that’s fine, but we must not let those crowd out why we are worshipping  at all and of course who are we worshipping –  it is easy to get bogged down it the “ right” way of doing something, and for that to distract us from the main point. Jesus is clear that it is our relationship in the Spirit with God that is important. It is that encounter that will transform us, and renew us, and those around us. That process of being born again of the spirit, day by day, week by week.

Reimagining church is a challenge, It’s not all about what we do, but why, and just as the Samaritan woman went back to spread the good news in her community, out of that transformation of each of us comes the transformation of our church life and the community around us as we reach out to them, as we do what we do in the power of Gods spirit, and to his Glory

Lent 2 : Authentic Disciples

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15, 2014 by fibrefairy


I f I was to ask you what your definition of a disciple would be, I wonder what you’d say?

One of the 12 men who followed Jesus? One of the group of men *and* women who followed Jesus?

Someone who learns? Someone who follows?

Any of us who want to be more like Jesus?

This week in both sermons and the Lent course we are looking at the first strategic priority that we have adopted as Diocese –“We Grow authentic disciples”

Right from the start it’s rather apparent that disciples aren’t confined to the 1st C.

But we know that anyway –we hear people in all sorts of fields being described as “a disciple of…”

To indicate that they have taken on the teaching values and example of a certain person, whether they are a philosopher, an architect, an author, a religious leader…

Specifically when we talk about disciples in the church we’re talking about t hose who choose to follow Jesus, learning and growing in him, working out his teaching in their lives.

Today’s gospel is about Nicodemus, a rabbi who comes searching to Jesus, initially at night, in secret.

He’s got a desire to find out, to know, but he knows it will cost him.

Jesus begins to explain to him what the Kingdom of God means, what it is, who is part of it.

It must have been an incredible conversation, imagine Jesus answering all your questions, your searches…

And then Jesus says “unless you are born again…”

And Nicodemus just doesn’t get it,

What do you mean?  Born again,

The only birth he can ( pardon the pun) conceive of is the messy human birth, birth he’s been probably kept far from, as a man, birth he knows only to mean pain and often death,

You must be born again…

It’s a phrase which has had a bad reputation; it’s come to signify perhaps a certain type of Christian, a faith journey with a Damascus road moment, a particular sort of theology.

But new birth in Christ is just what happens when we commit to following, commit to changing our direction, to being guided by God and not our selves, committing to our journey continuing on his paths.

New birth is painful sometimes too, it hurts to leave things behind, to make decisions and sacrifices, it can be a battle

But new birth, like physical birth is only the start,

No human baby that is to thrive and live stays the same.

No human baby that will live is not fed, or nurtured, protected and taught.

And it is exactly the same for us as Christians

Our spiritual selves just like our human selves need to be fed, to learn, to grow, to realise our full potential in God

Children change, and grow, but at root they are the same people, you can compare a photo at 2 and 20, and still see the same basic identity, the features, the smile or the eyes.

God created us in his image, we are already made up with his DNA, and he doesn’t want to change that or fundamentally change who we are,

What he is encouraging us to do is to grow more & more like him

More & more like his son, Jesus.

And this involves work and commitment on our part, on the part of the church, in a role not dissimilar to that of a parent,

The first Diocesan priority is growing authentic disciples.

Sitting week in week out in church on a Sunday is not in itself what grows discip0les.

Discipleship involves challenge and change and growth, increased understanding and commitment, grasping hold of what the Kingdom of God means, and how we can be part of it.

of that, to being those who work and strive for the Kingdom of God, to being those who want to be more like Jesus, more compassionate, more transformative , more merciful, closer to God and each other, more living for others than ourselves, all this and so much more!

Authentic disciples, who are following on the road, but what is that, that word authentic?

If you watch the Antiques roadshow or similar programme, you will be familiar with the scenario, a beautiful vase or bowl or piece of silver is placed on the table in front of the experts

They look at it, yes its very much like  what it says it is, it looks that way, it gives every impression  of being what you say it is,

And then

They turn it upside down.

Because it is upside down that the hall mark or the pottery mark is visible,

The mark that shows that this piece is in fact authentic, real,

The real core identity matches with the appearance

This is what it means to be authentic,

When we are viewed from every angle, everything about us says we are disciples of Jesus, even when we’re feeling uncomfortable and under stress, being upside down and shaken round, everything about us says “authentic” real…

We don’t know what happened to Nicodemus, whether the new birth he found so hard to understand became a reality for him, or not

But we can listen to Jesus speaking to us through this encounter, we can embrace the new birth we have, and ensure that we grow and enable others to grow in this challenging journey of  discipleship, hallmarked by the Spirit’s life in us, visible as Christ’s, from every angle.


what matters… a homily for Ash Wednesday

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2014 by fibrefairy

wpid-1393950943712.jpgThere’s always a bit of a disconnect with the tradition of the church and the gospel we have for Ash Wednesday. In this passage Jesus is warning his listeners about outward signs of  piety, doing  “religious stuff” to make ourselves look better.

We might not sound a trumpet when we give to charity, or pray on street corners, but we’ve come today to church, and we return to our everyday lives with this unusual dirty smudge on our faces that says…

Well what does it say?

And to whom?


First of all it reminds us of the Cross;

the smudge to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the artistic talents of the asher,  is  in the shape of a cross; a reminder of where it all starts, and ends and from where our life comes .

Death and resurrection.

We feel the shape of the cross as we are signed, we can feel it’s weight on our skin, Its physical, real.

The smudgey cross speaks also of our baptism when we were signed with that cross in oil, blessed and symbolising God’s blessing on our lives.

Today the oil is mixed with ashes, reminding us of our sin and mortality, the ways in which we’ve messed up God’s good gifts for us and so this smudge says that we are all broken and fallen, we are dust and ashes.

Nothing WE can do can change that. BUT the cross on our heads says that Jesus can,

the Cross says we’re forgiven and pardoned,

the Cross says “ go and sin no more”  you have a fresh start.

So we walk out of church with all this written on our faces.

And what do those around us see?

A dirty mark

A religious ritual?

Maybe a glimpse of something transcendent and other?

Perhaps all and any of these

But the real meaning  of the smudge is for us, not them

We carry our repentance inside us not outside in marks & symbols

We carry our forgiveness within us because we are loved, not as a show outside because we need to prove our worth to others.

And so we come back to the gospel reading that tells us not to make outward show.

It’s about our hearts.

We know forgiveness in our hearts , we don’t need others to know it, so we prove we’re  “ok”

This smudge probably signifies nothing to those around us,

But what matters for them is what has happened inside us

The change that forgiveness brings, the fruit of repentance in our lives,

What matters for them is the way we become more Christlike, more like Jesus

What matters for them is the new life we’re living the working for the Kingdom,

transforming lives because ours have been transformed.

So whether you wipe your face or leave your mark,

What matters today is what happens inside.

The knowledge of sins forgiven

& the transformation of our world by the living of Gods new life, to show his love and forgiveness to others and to begin to bring the Kingdom into being, here in our lives and the lives of those around us.


Don’t worry, get busy

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22, 2014 by fibrefairy

keep-calm-and-seek-the-kingdom-9DO NOT WORRY

I sometimes think this sounds like the sort of phrase that should be posted in what Douglas Adams would have referred to as “large friendly letters” somewhere prominent!

But we do worry don’t we, often rather a lot.

Despite most of us having no need to, we worry about things that really don’t require worrying about, details and minor points.

In this passage today Jesus is telling his audience not to worry about what they will eat or drink or what they will wear.

Hang on? Those are really basic things, surely if we’re in a position to need to worry about them, then it’s ok to worry? Isn’t it?

After all if we’re worrying about those things, well,.. they’re important,

They’re not what are known as “first world problems”  -what wine to chose,  will my phone battery last to the end of the day, Waitrose only had my 2nd favourite coffee in stock

Worrying about food, well that’s ok… right?

Jesus is trying to teach his listeners about priorities

Like very often in his teaching he uses exaggeration to make a point,

His point here is not that we should have an over laid back attitude to providing for our families,

Nor that we should just not care or not plan

He’s not saying don’t think about what & where you save, or  squander our resources

But all these things are not actually meant to dominate our lives,

They’re not meant to take all our focus and our time & energy,

We’re not to worry, to dwell on, to bury ourselves in these things.

The message Jesus is telling his audience here is that the thing above all else that we should remember is that we are made & created by God himself, and he values us more than we can know.

Gods care for us goes deeper than food & clothes, it goes right to the heart of who we are, our identity and value to him.

Whatever we wear,  however we look, whatever image we portray God loves us

Whatever we eat, wherever we shop,  God loves us

Whatever we live in or however we choose to decorate our homes, God loves us.

We’re blessed and looked after in the deepest most profound way that we can be, by knowing that the God who created the entire universe, cares deeply about each of us,

Regardless of our status, our tastes our income

We are loved. And valued

We know in this place and this area that the majority of us are also blessed with so much else

And this passage wakes us up to those who have so much less than we do too.

Because what we can’t do first to someone with nothing is say “ don’t worry” because that is plainly bonkers, because all they will be doing is worrying.

James say is in chapter 2, v 15

 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

But you say  Jesus is telling us not to worry because God will take care of us”

The answer to this conundrum I think is in the thing he tells us to do instead of worrying

“seek first the Kingdom”

What is that going to do? It sounds a bit super spiritual, a bit too “holy”

Don’t worry, set your minds on higher things… <pats on head>

Seeking the Kingdom,  isn’t about sitting around having holy thoughts

Seeking the Kingdom is about rolling your sleeves up and getting your hands dirty

Seeking the Kingdom is about feeding the hungry, giving clothes and shelter to the homeless. Soup runs and food banks, night shelters and women’s refuges

It’s about setting free the oppressed, advising & helping those in the chains of debt, and addictions, and abusive relationships.

Getting in there and getting involved, making a difference in real people’s lives.

It means listening to your depressed neighbour and bringing some glimmers of hope,

It means visiting the older person who is stuck in the house, and enabling them through you to see the world around them a bit more –sight to the blind.

Seeking the Kingdom too means raising your voice against the injustice, the inequalities and the downright obscenities that seem to punctuate our dealings with those on the edges

It means writing and signing, complaining and exclaiming, like so many of our bishops did this week,

it means getting cross that  in our western developed economy we even have to  get angry that people are starving.

It means campaigning and speaking out, making sure that everyone knows that God values ALL of us more than the lilies of the field and the birds of the air,

ALL of us, not just the neat, the stable, the intelligent the well educated,  but those who are ill or destitute or abused, addicted or at the very end of their rope,

Seeking the Kingdom means speaking for those with no voice,

Jesus said “whatever you do for the least of these you do for me”

Don’t worry…

ALL of us are loved and cared for,

Let us really stop worrying about ourselves, about the small stuff, and let us truly passionately Seek first the Kingdom, working for its growth and results  and let us  be the people who help the truth of our real worth, our real identity in God  to be truly known by absolutely ALL.


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