Autumn 2011 | CL76
Advent | Christmas | Lent
church leadership RESOURCING LEADERS â€“ ON PAPER AND ONLINE!
Advent big picture Urban Bible Lent course
Special focus: Word and Spirit
making disciples, developing leaders, growing churches
3 The tower and the well James Lawrence Bible | Holy Spirit | Leadership
Welcome to Church Leadership 76! I hope that by now all subscribers will know that this popular CPAS resource is soon to cease publication. In fact, CL77 (February 2012) will be our final issue.
6 Unlocking scripture for urban oral communicators Dawn Lonsdale, Sonya Doragh Bible | Urban | Non-book 8 God-breathed Mike Hill, Will Donaldson, Kate Mier, Tracy Cotterell, Stephen Cottrell Leadership | Bible | Holy Spirit
10 Spirit and scroll John Coyne Holy Spirit | Reflection | Bible
12 Vital partnership James Lawrence Resources | Prayer | Discipleship 13 God’s story. Our story Si Smith, Ian Adams Advent | All-age worship | Resources 19 Christmas all stars Rachel Heathfield Christmas | All-age | Nativity play
22 Finding our place in God’s world Dave Bookless Lent | Small groups | Bible
Subscribers to Church Leadership have password access to the CL website for all the magazine’s content, plus extra articles, resources, as well as an archive of material from past issues.
As we said in our letter mailed out in June, we have stopped renewing the subscriptions of those of you who subscribe through Direct Debit – and we noted that ‘DD’ subscribers should contact their banks or building societies to cancel their annual payment. And, of course, you are very welcome to contact us by phone or email with any queries regarding your subscription. The CL website will remain open throughout 2012 – and it will continue to be a ‘subscribers only’ resource. Please take time to browse through and download all the materials that you would like to keep. We can’t guarantee availability after the end of next year. That’s the ‘housekeeping’ part of my message dealt with. Equally importantly, I need to thank you for the many kind and appreciative messages that we’ve received since the announcement. We have been massively cheered, at a difficult time, with so many reminders of the positive contribution that Church Leadership has made to your service and leadership over the years. This issue focuses on the ‘vital partnership’ of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures in the life of the local church. And there’s a bumper crop of resources for Advent, Christmas and Lent 2012.
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Editor: Rory Keegan Design: Catherine Jackson Copyright: All material ©CPAS unless otherwise stated. All Bible quotations are from Today’s New International Version
Bible | Holy Spirit | Leadership James Lawrence
the tower and the well As he nears the end of our series of articles on the CPAS ‘leadership doughnut’, James Lawrence encourages us to a renewed appreciation of the resources underlying distinctively Christian leadership.
he ‘doughnut’ offers a model for the essentials of Christian leadership: discerning direction, enabling action, developing leaders, building teams, facilitating communication, nurturing disciples and growing in Christlikeness. Clearly, all of these are highly important – but where do you begin? What resources are available for Christian leaders as they set out? I recall an early-morning walk around London’s Canary Wharf, the financial district built on reclaimed docklands. Even at 6.30am people were scurrying to work in the gleaming tower blocks soaring over me.
gleaming skyscraper, the little well would probably go unnoticed. Its resources lie deep below the service, accessible in return for hard work. The bank’s resources are blazoned for all to see. Croft’s warning is clear. In our eagerness to draw on the rich array of resources available today, we risk overlooking profound sources of wisdom and nourishment which, humbly and quietly, have been available to us all the time. And chief among these are the Bible and the Holy Spirit.
I was meeting the director of the ‘leadership academy’ of an international bank. I was impressed to learn that he had 70 people working for him – and then he went on to describe the academy’s comprehensive curriculum, its well thought-through procedures, and its breathtaking training facilities. I was eager to learn how the director’s views on leadership could be ‘translated’ from the world of commerce to that of the local church. And it’s not only from the business community that we can learn valuable leadership lessons: think of the resources and inspiration available from education, psychology, health care, the armed forces... And yet... Writing for the Foundation for Church Leadership, Bishop Steve Croft makes a striking analogy. He imagines a multinational banking headquarters, rather like those in Canary Wharf. Beside it he places a simple, traditional well with its bucket and winding gear. Next to the CL76 ©CPAS
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te aching of the B ib le
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GROW IN CHRISTLIKENESS
Trinity. The New Testament does not offer the model of the solo (‘heroic’) individual as a template for Christian leadership. It is the exception, not the norm.
de p e nde nce on
The New Testament picture of leadership is strongly plural: we are shown people leading with others... Faithful engagement with the Bible The Bible is not a leadership handbook. None of its authors had that purpose in mind. But for those in Christian leadership, Scripture must shape our understanding of what we are about as it offers us the grand story of who God is, what he is doing in his world and how we are to play our part in his purposes. Throughout this series I’ve tried to keep taking us back to the Scriptures to allow them to shape our thinking. Here are three common dangers to avoid when drawing on the Bible for our understanding of leadership. Beware of individualism We sometimes use the Old Testament to teach about leadership without using the New Testament as a ‘filter’. OT leaders were ‘anointed’ individuals: kings, prophets and priests, who led God’s people in a variety of ways – some good, some bad. But to take them as our models is to misunderstand leadership in the Church. Following the first Pentecost the Holy Spirit no longer falls on an individual to anoint them for leadership. Rather, the Spirit anoints the whole people of God for the mission and ministry of God through the agency of the Church. The New Testament picture of leadership is strongly plural: we are shown people leading with others, reflecting the interdependent nature of the body of Christ, which also reflects the nature of God as 4
Too much Given a concern for leadership, it is tempting to over-emphasise what the Bible has to say on this topic. It’s possible to ‘impose’ meaning on the text, rather than allowing its natural significance to come through. That said, the Bible clearly has much to help us in our understanding of leadership. It affirms the foundations of discipleship. The Old Testament’s wisdom literature provides many of the core texts for developing leadership practice. The New Testament sets before us a theological understanding of leadership as part of the body, not separate from it. And, of course, it provides us with the examples of Jesus and the early church, and offers us some reflections on leadership practice. Too little We can be dismissive about the place of leadership in the Bible. This approach suggests that a concern for leadership isn’t necessary: all we need Christian ministers to do is to teach the Bible faithfully and proclaim the gospel – and God’s work will be done. David Andrew’s article (see the website for the full text) helpfully identifies the relationship between the gospel and leadership: it isn’t a matter of ‘either/or’ but ‘both/and’. So, in practical terms, what should Christian leaders do to engage with the Bible faithfully? Sit under its authority in all things This isn’t the place for a treatise on the sufficiency of Scripture. (See Will Donaldson’s Word and Spirit, pages 28-45, for an introduction to this theme.) But it is important to remember that Christian leaders sit under the authority of the Scriptures, believing them to be ‘God’s gift to his Church as the supreme source of authority and revelation for the Church today, and the all-sufficient resource for Christian ministry.’ (Word and Spirit, p41). Let it shape our understanding of leadership Jesus offers firm guidance as to how the apostles should lead: they must not imitate their contemporaries (Matthew 20:17-28). A Christian understanding of leadership cannot separate character from competence, humility from role, service from power, individual contribution from
team working. Yes, we lead, but not as the world does. Use it as the primary means of building the body of Christ This will involve many different approaches, and will include preaching and teaching in public gatherings, devotional study as a personal discipline, the speaking of God’s word to comfort, build up and equip God’s people in the realities of daily life. The Bible should not only be in the leader’s hand but also in the leader’s heart, shaping both action and character.
Prayerful dependence on the Spirit Our engagement with the Bible goes hand in hand with our dependence on the Holy Spirit, who empowers us in every aspect of our discipleship. Will Donaldson wisely warns against any form of ‘false separation’ between Word and Spirit.
What are the dangers when we get the balance wrong regarding the work of the Spirit? ‘Super-spiritual’ mode We don’t prepare properly for a sermon, arguing that the Spirit will lead us. We overemphasise what can be achieved in a completely unrealistic vision for the future, arguing that God can do all things. We mistakenly bury conflict, arguing that the Spirit is the Spirit of peace. Crisis only! We carry on as if the Holy Spirit doesn’t really exist or make any difference: we rely on our own natural abilities to get things done; we never risk anything that actually might need God’s Spirit to turn up; we ignore the inner promptings of the Spirit, convinced that following our own insights is always the best way to do things. In short, we turn to the Holy Spirit only in times of extreme, dramatic need. At the heart of our faith is the truth that what we can achieve is entirely dependent on the power and work of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately we are in the transformation business. As Christian leaders we long to see people transformed from darkness into light as they become followers of Jesus. We long to see disciples of Jesus transformed ever more into the likeness of Christ. We long to see hopeless, pain-filled situations transformed by the presence of God. These are things that only God’s Spirit can do (through God’s word). Yet it is so easy to live as though we can achieve these things through our leadership. We can’t. And we should not try.
James Lawrence is CPAS Leadership Principal. He’s the author of Growing Leaders (CPAS/BRF) and of the course Mentoring Matters, now available from CPAS.
How, in practical terms, does prayerful dependence on the Spirit work out for a Christian leader?
Pray, pray and pray! I suppose the clue is in the phrase: prayerful dependence on the Spirit. I know it sounds rather obvious, but my own experience and the experience of working with many leaders confirms that the neglect of prayer is a common trait among those in leadership. Maybe there is something about leadership that seduces us to believe we can do it on our own.
Prayerful dependence may involve: Prayer at the start of the day In personal devotion, or through corporate liturgy, or in a simple prayer of offering. Prayer at meetings Not simply a nod to God at the beginning and end, but a prayerful attentivieness to God throughout. And not just at ‘formal’ meetings. It is strange how difficult it can be to pray when two Christians meet. When I was working in India I discovered that it was unthinkable that two Christians would gather and not spend a few moments in prayer before they departed. Prayer in all situations When sharing the faith with someone, when seeking to empathise with a suffering person, when struggling to work out which way to go in a mentoring conversation, when grappling with a tricky passage for the sermon, when preparing to lead colleagues through a difficult decision, when confronting someone over their inappropriate behaviour... Prayer alone We all need to take ‘time out’ to find solitude and stillness to devote time and attention to God. Prayer focus A time of specific prayer for a particular thing, perhaps a half day, whole day, 24-hours or even longer, when we gather the people of God to pray.
Word and Spirit These two resources are to be drawn from the well: they are life-giving for a Christian leader. Draw deep, draw often. The business world may have the money and the facilities, but God’s Word and Spirit have the wisdom and the power to change the world.
Podcast Visit the CPAS website to listen to James Lawrence introducing the new CPAS course Mentoring Matters. Word and Spirit Head to the Church Leadership area of the CPAS website for a link to an extract from Will Donaldson’s book Word and Spirit (CPAS/BRF).
Download deadline The Church Leadership website will remain open to subscribers until the end of 2012. So now is the time to start extending your archive of Church Leadership resources: we cannot guarantee that they will available after the cut-off date.
Bible | Urban | Non-book Dawn Lonsdale and Sonya Doragh Pioneering organisation Unlock has almost 40 years’ experience of helping urban churches to respond to the challenges in their areas, with special emphasis on communicating good news in a ‘non-book’, ‘oral learner’, ‘textshy’ culture. Dawn Lonsdale and Sonya Doragh outline Unlock’s approach to scripture.
nlock, by various names, has been around since 1972, trying to help (mainly) urban Christians to understand and share their faith appropriately. Our life experience matters: our stories, our joys and sorrows. The Bible has plenty to say – more than we’ll ever know – about our lives if we know how to read it and apply it. If we know how to UNLOCK it..!
unlocking scripture for urban oral communicators The Unlock learning cycle Unlocking real-life stories of urban people Start with the group telling stories from their real-life experience.
Releasing life-changing skills and confidence Change happens as a result of linking real-life experience with the Bible. The change often leads to action among others.
Leading to more experience What we learn now is learned for life and changes us. We also learn to keep reflecting.
Revealing good news of the down-to-earth Christ The real-life stories are connected to and compared with similar situations in the Bible.
We sum up our approach with three key words: unlocking real-life stories of urban people; revealing the good news of the downto-earth Christ; releasing life-changing skills and confidence.
We begin with people sharing something of their own story, just as the disciples on the Emmaus road did with Jesus. They move into an exploration of how Scripture relates to those personal stories, which then leads to changed attitudes, resolutions, and actions in everyday life. A preference for oral communication and learning is a feature of deprived urban communities in the UK. Members of such communities are marginalised, within society and the church, which largely fails to cater for their specific oral-learning needs. Unlock’s approaches have been developed over almost 40 years to help oral learners in these contexts engage with Scripture. Unlock works with the learning cycle illustrated here, which has been specifically designed for use with oral communities. The sharing of personal stories is usually triggered by using some sort of ‘prompt’. This may be an object, an image, a video clip, a piece of music – or through craft activities as in the pictures on these pages.
Formerly Laity Development Adviser for Derby Diocese, Dawn Lonsdale has been Chief Officer at Unlock since July 2004. Her role is the strategic management of Unlock, including the development of Unlock Local Projects and Discipleship Development Worker posts, and promotion of Unlock’s mission and method. She lives and worships in Heanor, in a former coalfield area in Derbyshire. Contact Dawn via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once personal stories have been shared and participants have identified the feelings or dilemmas involved, links are made to stories in the Bible. Sometimes participants have enough of an ‘oral reservoir’ of Bible stories to be able to make these links for themselves, but facilitators need to be ready to provide some possible Bible links if participants are not able to do so. This needs to be done with care so that the Bible links genuinely reflect the experiences of the participants, rather than predetermined links that the facilitator thinks the participants should know about. The chosen Bible material is then explored, but not with a printed text. (As Christ explored the Scriptures with the disciples on the Emmaus road, there is no mention of any of them having an actual text to refer to.) Exploring the text does not mean analyzing it academically, but simply looking for the points of connection between the text and the experiences that have been shared. Once again images, film clips, music, activities, storytelling, and so forth can provide helpful ways for oral learners to engage with biblical texts. For example, a series of pictures illustrating the stages of creation can be passed round. Each participant can say what they see happening in the picture they are holding, and thus the story is related, without the use of text or a Bible! Insights emerge spontaneously as the Biblical story is compared to the lived experiences of the participants. For example, participants discussed times when they have been blamed for something that they did not do, and then viewed a video clip of the crucifixion. It was clear that some identified for the first time that Jesus was taking the blame for others, including themselves, and they knew how that felt because they had all experienced it. Such insights lead to changes in behaviour, and sometimes to shared action. That process is facilitated by a reflective activity which helps to embed the learning. For
Cooking the book
After we’d prepared our food together, I asked, ‘Have you ever made something that you are proud of?’ Given the nature of the group, the responses were quite amazing. They included: re-upholstering a three-piece suite and carving book ends that are still used some 20 years on. ‘How did you feel?’ was the next question, to which someone responded, ‘Kinda too big on the inside, like there wasn’t enough room for how pleased I was and I might burst.’ We shared a few more experiences and then went through a pictorial account of the creation story. We ended by saying that when God made all those things and when he made each of us, he thought it was good. He probably had the same feelings you did when you were pleased with what you made.’ There was a moment‘s silence, one of those holy feeling pauses, then,
Sonya Doragh was Unlock’s Development Worker in Liverpool 2008-2010.
reverently, ‘That’s boss, that is. God thinks I’m all right.’ Another week our theme was ‘It’s not my fault.’ We began by making bread together. Once it was in the oven, the group told stories about situations when they had been blamed for something someone else had done. We then watched a video of the crucifixion. As it finished, two group members sat teary eyed and deeply moved. At which point someone else said, ‘The bread smells ***** great, I’m gettin’ it out!’ Despite this seemingly divided reaction, the time eating what we cooked actually provided a space for reflective discussion and eating the food means that more dominant chatty participants made room for others to talk! So as we chewed it over (!) it became clear it was the first time that any of the group had made the connection that Jesus was taking the blame for them.
example, participants who had been discussing broken relationships, plaited strips of torn fabric into bracelets, symbolising how something new can be made out of something damaged. They were invited to wear the bracelet until the relationship they had been thinking about was transformed into something new and positive. In the Emmaus story, the reflective activity is sharing a meal and breaking bread, and the shared action is the disciples returning to Jerusalem to share the news. Through this ministry model, we have learned that a reasonably skilled facilitator, using the Unlock learning cycle in marginalised communities, can generate Scripture engagement that actually changes behaviour, by beginning with stories from the participants’ own experience.
Unlock Stories, resources, and examples of Unlock approaches in practice are available on the Unlock website www.unlock-urban.org.uk.
Start! This remarkable 6-session introduction to the Christian faith is based around 12 short video inputs, most of which feature on-thestreet ‘vox pop’ comments, guaranteed to get any group engaged and involved. Available from www.leadingyourchurchintogrowth.org.uk. CL76 ©UnlocK
Leadership | Bible | Holy Spirit
God-breathed Intertwining as in a Celtic knot pattern, Word and Spirit come together again and again to inspire and empower. We invited five leaders to reveal a decisive, dynamic ‘Scripture moment’.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 (TNIV)
car of When I became Vi the PCC g, lin Ea St John’s, West gether to to ay aw y and staff had a da give tement that would develop a vision sta of our ge sta xt ection to the ne y Bible us purpose and dir ke d die stu e morning we th In . ch ur hat ch a life as ts. We asked, ‘W this one from Ac lly cia pe ry es ve s, a d ge passa ter we aske a local church?’ La of e t os No rp ’ pu ’s? e hn th is ose of St Jo ‘What is the purp e th to s er sw similar question: an similar came up with very . ion vis e th e ap surprisingly they sh ed the Bible to us d ha irit Sp e morning! Th ip ristian Leadersh is Director of Ch Will Donaldson Ox ford at Wyclif fe Hall,
After these things I looked and behold a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb… Revelation 7:9 (NKJV) I had only been a Christian for a matter of days. I had gone to my local church (I was regrettably infamous in our town) and told the Vicar that I had been converted. He seemed embarrassed by this and when I asked what I should do he told me to ‘come back next week and be a server – and read the Bible’. I opened the old Authorised Version Bible that my family possessed and began to read in the Book of Genesis. I got as far as Chapter 3 and wasn’t really understanding how a snake could talk, so I then turned to the back, the Revelation of St John. This was in the 1960s when drugs were around and these amazing visions of St John were intriguing to say the least! Then I read Chapter 7:9. In an instant I knew what my life’s purpose was all about. In my immature Christian mind I thought to myself that when I get to heaven and when I look up, I want to recognise as many faces as possible; these would be the faces of those people that my life would touch for the sake of God and for the sake of His Kingdom. It’s a purpose that still burns bright within me – and I thank God for His Word. Mike Hill is Bishop of Bristol
Over to you! Is there a poignant, punchy, pithy verse or short passage that’s special to you in your life as a leader? There is? Please let us know and we’ll do our best to include it in CL77, the final issue! Contact us via email@example.com.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If the head of the house loves peace, your peace will rest on that house; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for workers deserve their wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ Luke 10:1-9 (TNIV) We needed a breakthrough to help us find our vision as a church. I can’t remember how or when this passage leapt out at us, but it has stayed with us over several years now, and borne a lot of fruit as we have prayed with it, so we do feel it is a gift to us from the Spirit. The disciples are first of all gathered around Jesus listening to him, then they go as he sends them out (in pairs – ministry together not solo) to heal and tell the gospel, staying where they are welcomed rather than worrying about those who do not welcome them. We have been welcomed warmly in our links with many areas of our community. Healing is important for us: whenever we ask people if they would like us to pray for them, we get loads of requests for people who are sick, so we are making this a priority. Finally, the disciples grew as they went out and came back again to Jesus – giving us our rhythm of Christian living – gather, grow, go. Kate Mier is vicar of St Peter’s, Wellesbourne, Warwickshire
‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.’ Isaiah 43:10 (TNIV)
This is my touchstone verse, bringing together what is precious to me: witness, service, knowing God. The Lord impressed it on my heart as a young believer – and 30 years later it continues to mesmerise me. I turn it over and over through life stages, challenges, loss and joy. How will I bear witness to Jesus and his ways in this moment? What does serving him look like in this particular stage of life? I seek to be a witness and servant and he reveals himself to me. Awesome really! Tracy Cotterell is Chief Operating Officer for the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity
Because of contro versies in the church wh en I became a bishop, I found m yself stepping int oa leadership role wh ere there would be conflict and where I need ed to be the one who brought reconciliation. On the day of the an nouncement, the press conferen ce lasted two hour s. I went to evensong in Pete rborough Cathed ra l th at day and the psalm was nu mber 73. These ve rses spoke to me powerfully. They have done so ever since. In fact, wh I went to pay hom en age to the Queen on my way to becoming Bishop of Chelmsford I as ked for the Bible to be open at this psalm. Stephen Cottrell is Bishop of Chelmsford
I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterwards you will receive me with honour. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. Psalm 73:23-26 (TNIV) CL76 ©CPAS
Holy Spirit | Reflection | Bible John Coyne
oasis: spirit and scroll Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ Luke 4:20-21 (TNIV)
As any soldier knows, leadership without appropriate resources is a near impossible call. Returning to the very beginning of Jesus’s ministry, John Coyne ponders the crucial ‘both/ and’ at the heart of Christ’s – and our – calling to obedience and service.
rom the earliest years of my ministry I’ve enjoyed helping new Christians become established in their faith. And, alongside that, I’ve tried to help more established Christians experience all that God had provided for us in Christ. All this has been undertaken to help myself and others experience greater wholeness, maturity and effectiveness while living for God in his world today. This has meant exploring what new believers actually need to help them on those first steps as a follower. Many new and established Christians have struggled to pray consistently and to grow
in their intimacy with God. Others seem to stride forward confidently from the beginning, teaching me so much on the way. In fact, this learning has always been a two-way experience, involving a mixture of receiving from God and embracing the challenge and joy of the Christian adventure which is the life of discipleship. I find one passage of scripture especially helpful when exploring the landscape of the Christian adventure. It points me towards the means of being sustained on the way. The text of Luke 4:1-21 follows on from the baptism of Jesus by his cousin John. In one sense the ‘baptism event’ was Jesus’s
John Coyne is CPAS Director of Local and Regional Delivery. Formerly on the staff of St John’s College, Nottingham, where he taught practical theology. John lives in Gloucestershire.
commissioning as Messiah. His true identity as God’s Son was clarified, and this event was followed by a prompting by the Spirit to enter the wilderness and face the challenges of solitude and temptation.
to us in different ways, but it must come if we are to embrace all that God wants for us as his children.
As Luke 4 continues, I recognise Jesus embracing his calling, and being sustained by the ministry of God’s Word and by the Holy Spirit.
I write as someone whose earliest experience of the work of the Holy Spirit brought more terror than delight. I took refuge in a ‘word only’ engagement with God and my experience was, as a consequence, somewhat arid.
In response to the temptations hurled at him, he who was full of the Holy Spirit resisted through a clear engagement with Scripture, backed up his years of immersion in the Old Testament texts. Here was a person in whom God’s Word and God’s Spirit dwelt and operated in harmony.
Eventually the longing to know God more deeply helped me to face my fears and look more carefully at the ministry of God’s Spirit. It has been a long journey and one which is certainly ongoing, but I have come to appreciate God’s word more as I have longed for the transforming ministry of the Holy Spirit.
After the temptation, we read that Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit to teach in the synagogues. Luke pictures him reading from Isaiah 61: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to tell the good news...to announce freedom for prisoners...’ Then, to crown it all, he audaciously applied the text to himself: ‘Today this passage of scripture is coming true as you listen (4:21).’
The word has created hunger and insight while the Spirit living and working within me has given both gifts and empowerment in exciting and challenging times. I would describe myself now as a shy-but-convinced charismatic.
The more I have pondered this passage over the years, the more I have come to see from experience and conviction that new and established Christians find their identity as they engage with Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit together. All theological and exegetical controversies in this area have the effect of polarising teaching and experience in God’s Church. Excesses grow out of imbalance on all sides. So as I continue to reflect and share in the task of helping Christians to grow I want to offer serious engagement with scripture, even in a non-book culture. This can take place one-to-one, in small groups and in contemporary preaching applied to every context of living in God’s world. I have come to expect that where this happens the new believer experiences the emergence of a deep hunger for God’s grace to be operating in his or her life. That hunger is met when the Holy Spirit leads us to long for a new intimacy with God and a fresh experience of the Spirit’s enabling to live, love and serve beyond our own resources and gifts. This double portion of God’s grace comes
Here was a person in whom God’s word and God’s Spirit dwelt and operated in harmony.
Several weeks ago I led a parish weekend and chose to do five studies in Ephesians. I offered the opportunity to talk with individuals about the issues raised and to pray with any who wanted to ‘inhabit’ the reality of which Paul wrote. Those present included people who were not yet Christians as well as those who had been disciples for many years. They loved the exploration of Scripture, valued the opportunity to talk through its implications for discipleship, and a number sought prayer ministry. On the Sunday I preached and offered anointing with oil as a means of marking a response to scripture, as well as seeking the grace and gifting of the Holy Spirit. I had sought to model the importance of both the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The sense of God’s presence and a love for his word was felt deeply by many. Whatever your situation I hope that your longing to model what is found in the ministry of Jesus – an engagement with word and Spirit – can bring a new vitality to your study and preaching of God’s word, your relationship with God and the building up of his Church as we seek the kingdom together: ‘Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction...You welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.’ (1 Thessalonians 1:5-6)
Word and Spirit podcast Listen to Bishop Graham Cray and the Rev Rosie Ward discussing the ‘word / Spirit’ balance. CL76 CPAS
Resources | Bible | Holy Spirit James Lawrence Taking action based on Spirit-filled wisdom: something to which all in leadership aspire. James Lawrence points to key resources.
vital partnership C
S SE N Word and Spirit, The Vital LE Partnership in Christian Leadership, Will Donaldson (CPAS/BRF) This is a very helpful book. Its three sections offer contemporary considerations on the importance of Word and Spirit together, theological foundations drawing on the Bible and church history – and then a very practical consideration of how these concerns affect the leadership of a local church (preaching and teaching the Bible, developing and implementing vision, working in teams and mentoring leaders, mobilising every member into ministry, enabling worship and prayer, providing pastoral care and nurture, motivating evangelism and mission). Winningly, Will Donaldson combines deep theological insight with a solid background of experience in local-church leadership.
L RE A
For further reading Focus on Leadership, Foundation for Church Leadership The particular recommendation is Steven Croft’s chapter ‘A Theology of Church Leadership’, (pages 11-41), a transcript of his 2005 address to an FCL gathering, in which he develops his contrasting images of the business academy and the well (CL75, pages 2-5). Croft invites us to journey through the Judaeo-Christian heritage on leadership, which he claims ‘provides the longest continuous source
of reflection on questions of leadership in the whole of human history’. (www. churchleadershipfoundation.org) Spiritual Leadership, J Oswald Sanders, Moody Considered by many a classic text, Sanders’ book grew from lectures to missionaries in the 1960s. The short chapters offer punchy insights into spiritual leadership. Throughout he offers thoughts on the place of the Bible and the role of the Spirit. Occasionally it shows its age with outdated illustrations and a predominance of ‘male’ language, but overall offers a wise perspective on core themes. 360degree Leadership: Preaching to Transform Congregations, Michael J Quicke, Baker Quicke is an English pastor, now based at the Northern Seminary in Chicago. His ‘big thing’ is the link between preaching and leadership – and he urges the rediscovery of leadership through preaching – at the core of his thinking is the dynamic interrelationship between Word and Spirit. And, as the subtitle announces, this is also a very practical book.
CPAS Podcasts Catch them while you can! Listen to interviews with Michael Quicke and Will Donaldson and Graham Cray not to mention a host of other leaders. Peppy, pithy and punchy. www.cpas.org.uk LICC has a comprehensive range of resources on its website to help churches with whole-life discipleship, including questionnaires, workbooks, spreadsheets and books. www.licc.org.uk 12
Wisdom and Ministry: The Call to Leadership, Michael Sadgrove, SPCK In this stimulating book Sadgrove draws on the Bible’s ‘wisdom literature’ (for example: Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs and many of the Psalms) as well as the narratives of Joseph, Daniel, David and Solomon. He encourages us to a rediscovery of the central importance, throughout the Bible, of the theme of wisdom, a profound understanding of how life is to be lived at every level of human experience. He skilfully relates these ideas to the daily life of a church leader. An inspiring and helpful book. Discerning Leadership – Cooperating with the Go-between God, Graham Cray, CPAS/Grove Short, pithy and inspiring, Bishop Graham’s recent Grove Booklet is a glorious reaffirmation of the role of the Holy Spirit in the dynamic life of the local church.
Some ‘classics’ The following are classics on the themes of the Bible and the Spirit. Keep in Step with the Spirit, Jim Packer, IVP God’s Empowering Presence, Gordon Fee, Hendrickson I Believe in Preaching, John Stott, Hodder I Believe in the Holy Spirit, Michael Green, Hodder Gospel and Kingdom, Graeme Goldsworthy, Paternoster
Advent | All-age worship | Resources Si Smith and Ian Adams Advent marks the start of the Church year, a time full of promise and possibility. Artist Si Smith and writer Ian Adams present a series of easy-to-make booklets offering everyone an original way to engage with the season’s themes.
God‘s story. Our story.
he comic-style booklets are designed to be accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. They encourage participation.They should work equally well for larger numbers in a conventional church setting, or for just a few people in a home. You could even adapt them for use in the open air or another public space. They keep central Advent practices, such as lighting candles on the Advent wreath, hearing and pondering the seasonal scripture readings, and use of Advent collects and the Church’s special prayers for the season. In Advent we experience a wide-angle view on all of salvation history. From the ancient patriarchs, through the prophets to the forerunner John, and on to the amazing young woman who said ‘Yes!’ We receive a glimpse of what lives shaped towards God can look like. And so we find ourselves asking: ‘How can we get ready for the Christ Child who will change everything for good?’
Using the booklets Photocopy the sheets using the pages that follow. Alternatively, download the files from the CL website: they are available in both Jpg and PDF formats. The sheets are presented at A4 dimensions, but may be enlarged to A3 if you prefer. The booklets may be made up beforehand, but it works well if the making is part of the weekly Advent preparation. You can speed things up and ensure an appropriate level of safety by making the cut (along the central dark line) in advance. This, combined with careful folding along the other lines, enables the transformation from flat sheet to 8-page booklet.
We suggest that the leader/facilitator practises making the booklet in advance so that he/she can guide everyone through the process confidently. The simplicity of each outline gives plenty of space to adapt the material for your own setting. So if, for example you like a lot of music feel free to add music to places in addition to page 2. On the other hand, if you sense that your gatherings are cluttered or over-full you might take the opportunity to simplify!
Cut along the central dark line.
If your context is Eucharistic the communion will go well towards the end, either after ‘Light the candle’ – or ‘Make your own prayer’.
Themes Each booklet encourages us to do some personal thinking and to engage in conversation together.
Score carefully along the other lines.
You will need to provide pencils and/ or pens (and perhaps other creative materials depending on your context) for the ‘God’s story, your story’ on page 5. The booklets follow the traditional Advent themes, and then work with a particular aspect of the story: 1. The patriarchs: Sarah and Abraham: focus on welcoming and hoping. 2. The prophets: exploring the possibility of peace and justice. 3. John the Baptist: getting ready for the coming of the Christ Child. 4. The virgin Mary: imagining how we might say our own ‘Yes’ to God. 5. Christmas: the Christ Child, celebrating and living with light, hope and joy.
Si Smith is an internationally acclaimed illustrator based in Leeds. www.simonsmithillustrator.co.uk
And open out...
...to create the booklet.
Ian Adams is a writer, mentor and teacher on themes of emerging church, community, prayer and spirituality. He lives in Devon. www.ianadams.info CL76 ©CPAS
CL76 ÂŠIan Adams and Si Smith
CL76 ÂŠIan Adams and Si Smith
CL76 ÂŠIan Adams and Si Smith
CL76 ÂŠIan Adams and Si Smith
CL76 ÂŠIan Adams and Si Smith
Christmas | All-age | Nativity play Rachel Heathfield Fed up with the annual nativity service being a ‘spectator event’, a local church decided to invite everyone to take a part. Rachel Heathfield describes the result: exuberant, celebratory, all-age and all-star!
nce we’d made the decision to go ‘all-age’, we knew that good communication and lively publicity would be key to the success of the service. Come the start of winter, parents and children’s leaders were already asking, ‘What is happening with the nativity this year?’ They were expecting rehearsals to begin, as always, at the end of November. But this year was to be different. Invitations went out to all the children in their groups for the four weeks prior to the service. We also placed notices in the weekly service sheets. The invitation offered everyone the opportunity to come to church dressed as ‘the part you always wanted’ in the nativity. We let everyone know that the church’s stock of costumes would be made available. But we encouraged people, if at all possible, to improvise their own costume. We
Christmas all stars
added that if a costume was too difficult, it would be fine to bring a ‘prop’ to represent their choice of role. Thinking about the nativity narrative, we decided on a probable ‘magnificent seven’ of the most likely choices: Mary, Joseph, Innkeeper, Animals, Angels, Shepherds and Magi. In addition we acknowledged that some people would prefer to participate by sitting and watching: but we ensured that they, too, could make an important contribution to the celebration. Seven volunteer ‘workshop leaders’ were primed and ready. Each had a brief to deal with as many or as few people who came as ‘their’ character. The workshops were to be stationed around the church and each had a task to fulfil, which would then become part of the service.
CL76 ©Rachel Heathfield, Illustrations ©Brent clark
Team Mary They read together Luke 1:26-38 and discussed how they felt about the task that Mary accepted. They decorated a large collage creating the words: ‘I trust God’, using paper and fabric. Each person also made a ‘cardboard testimony’: card rectangle with a single word or a simple phrase written large, to express something that Mary might have felt (for example: frightened, alone, too young, ‘What about Joseph?’). Already written on the flipside of the card were the words: ‘I trust God’.
Team Joseph The Josephs read Matthew 1:18-25 and thought about what Joseph needed to do to be ready. They had a pile of wood and some hammers and nails and were given the brief to make a crib for the baby. They also had a travel cot to assemble in case there was too many for the crib-making.
Team Innkeeper This team had to prepare a backdrop for the nativity. They painted a large-scale stable picture, from a very simple outline on a notice board.
Team Animals This seemed to be attractive to the very young children. They made simple animal masks – cows, donkeys and sheep – and learned a song (‘Mr Cow’ by Julia Plaut, Kingsway). A pantomime cow costume appeared out of nowhere: this was ideal for a couple of teenagers who thought they were too cool to dress up!
Team Magi This group read Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11. They discussed the gifts we might bring to a newborn king today and wrote these items on cards, or drew pictures of them. These were then shared between three lidded boxes, which were then gift-wrapped.
Team Angels They read Luke 2:13-14 and considered how angels would dance in praise of the newborn baby. The workshop leader had put together a very simple line dance for everyone to learn and they practised it to the John Hardwick song ‘A Band of Angels’ (www.johnhardwick.co.uk).
Team Sitting-down Naturally, there are some who don’t want to move or join in. These people were given a meditation sheet (available on the website) and a pen, and were invited to consider what it means to make space for Jesus at Christmas. They were also invited to write a prayer to express their thoughts.
Team Shepherds The shepherds read Luke 2: 8-10, 16-18 and considered what the message of good news might be all about. They had some very cheap tree baubles, some ribbon and some tags with the message ‘Have you heard the good news? Jesus our Saviour is born!’ They set to and tied the labels to the baubles – enough for everyone in church to have one. Younger children threaded, older people tied the knots.
20 CL76 ©Rachel Heathfield, Illustrations ©Brent clark
Rachel is a writer and trainer. She lives in Walthamstow, east London.
The service The service began with the usual welcomes and housekeeping notices. Newcomers and visitors were acknowledged, welcomed and invited to get involved. Costumes were noticed and made a fuss of. As the first song was sung, people who were not dressed up were invited to search through the spare costumes and to get involved. Straight away, people were sent to their workshops. Even the ‘undressed’ were invited to choose a role and head for their team of choice. We allocated 15 minutes for the team tasks, and noted that on hearing the ‘cue carol’ (you choose) they should return to their seats. The ensuing buzz of activity was gratifying! Once the workshops were complete, and everyone was sitting down, we invited all the Marys to the front. The verses were read aloud and the leader talked briefly about how Mary would have felt. The cardboard testimonies were held up silently, one by one. But what did she do? We revealed the collage as the Marys turned their cards to show, ‘I trust God’. The word ‘TRUST’ appeared on the screen. The Josephs came forward with their crib and cot. Their verses were read. The leader asked, ‘What did Joseph do?’ He obeyed God and got on with practical arrangements such as preparing for the baby and getting married to Mary. The word ‘OBEY’ appeared on the screen. At the end of this section, on cue, the leader received a phone call (ham acting required!). Apparently a decree had been sent out that people should return to the town of birth. The Marys and Josephs paired up and set off to walk around the church
together (while the congregation sang ‘Little Donkey’). At the end of the song, they returned to their seats.
show! It was time to bring on the angels to perform their dance. ‘WOW!’ appeared on the screen.
Next it was the turn of the innkeepers. Where were Mary and Joseph going to stay? The leader highlighted that there was no space for the couple in Bethlehem, but thanks to one person making the space, Mary and Joseph could finally rest. The painted backdrop was revealed. ‘SPACE’ was shown on the screen.
Who saw this show of praise? The shepherds’ verses were read out. They were so excited they visited the baby and then wanted to tell everyone the good news! The word ‘TELL’ went up on the screen. While the congregation sang ‘While shepherds watched’, the shepherds gave out the baubles with the attached message to every person in church.
It was also the time to pray. We invited volunteers from those who had remained seated to come forward and read their prayers. The leader had some prepared prayers in reserve, just in case. But, sure enough, two beautiful prayers had been written and were shared.
So was this the end of the story? No, there were more visitors. We sang ‘We three kings’ and the Magi processed together, with the parcels, to the front. The gifts were opened and the suggested presents read out. The word ‘GIVE’ appeared on the screen.
We had arrived at the space for Jesus. The Joseph-made crib was placed in front of the backdrop and a baby (real or ‘virtual’) placed in it. The animals were invited to gather round and to sing their song. The leader exclaimed how wonderful this must have been, but wondered, did anyone else see this? Of course! Out on a hillside, a dance worthy of the West End was on
The leader made a final summary. What can we bring God? What are our gifts to him? We can give ourselves, we can bring our heart and our lives as a daily offering. The last verse of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ was used as a poetic summary. Everyone who wanted to was invited to return to the front to create a final nativity tableau during the singing of the final carol.
Support material Rachel and her team prepared guidance sheets for each of the character teams. These are available on the website. Adapt them to suit your own situation. We have also placed sheets including the Bible texts appropriate to each group. Christmas archive The CL website is a treasure trove of all-age worship materials for Christmas. Don’t forget that these materials may not be available after the end of December 2012. Now’s the time to create your own electronic archive of Church Leadership resources. CL76 ©Rachel Heathfield, Illustrations ©Brent clark
Lent | Small groups | Bible Dave Bookless
We live in a culture that often distances us from nature – God’s creation. Food emerges shrink-wrapped from the sterile glare of supermarkets, disinfected from relationship to the land and the hands that produced it. Dave Bookless offers five Lenten sessions to help us pause and reconnect with our Creator and his creation.
finding our place in God‘s world
C A Rocha is a Christian environmental and nature conservation movement: www.arocha.org. Word files Don’t forget you can download the text of these sessions in both PDF and Word formats – the latter will enable you to create your own session notes/booklets. 22
CL76 ©Dave Bookless
ars, trains and planes rush us at unnatural speed from one human landscape to another, bypassing anything wild or growing. Artificial light and heat protect us from the rhythms of day and night, summer and winter. The consequences are toxic for the earth, for the poor, for our own well-being and for our relationship with God. Lent can be a time for rediscovery of our place in God’s world, of a conscious re-rooting in the places God has planted us, of relating to the earth as our God-given home, of seeking to learn lessons of God’s kingdom and his righteousness from the flowers and the birds. In this short series, we begin to re-orientate ourselves and put God, rather than our human-focused creations, back at the centre of our world.
Bible Psalm 104:10-31
Bible Job 38:25-30, 39:1-30 (read aloud, a paragraph each)
Bible 1 Kings 4:29-34; Matthew 6:25-34
Activity Either stand in a tight circle, almost touching. Carefully sit down together on each other’s laps – creating an interdependent ‘circle of life’; Or each person has 90 seconds to quickly write down things they’ve used today that depend on water (Psalm 104:10-12). Compare lists and score a point only for words that nobody else has written! Talk about Depending on which activity you chose, discuss our dependence on each other (how secure did you feel?) or on water. Looking at Psalm 104, how many verses mention humans? Who is the world for? What conclusions can we draw about God’s purposes and priorities? Notice (104:27 and onwards) how all creatures depend on God and each other. How does modern life distance us from this sense of interdependence? How can we seek to recover it? Follow through ‘How many are your works, O Lord’ (Psalm 104:24). This week, keep a list of ‘God’s works’ in terms of trees, birds, animals, plants you see. You may need to visit the library or the net to identify some of them! Think through how both you and they depend equally on God’s provision (rain, sun, soil, food), and try to develop a sense of daily gratitude and thankfulness (perhaps saying ‘grace’ at meals). How could your local environment better help all of God’s creatures to thrive? Prayer Lord, we all look to you: capable adults and helpless babies; powerful rulers and powerless refugees; people, animals, trees and flowers – we all alike depend on you. Forgive us for seeking to be selfreliant. Keep us consciously dependent on you and your creation. Help us to live humbly, gently and gratefully in your world, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Activity Either Draw a picture or diagram of ‘your world’. Share these as a group Or Print or project ten photos (using Google images or similar) that show familiar everyday objects from an unusual perspective. Get everybody to guess what they are. (There’s a PowerPoint quiz on the website!)
Talk about Job 38-41 records God’s answer to Job’s questions asking why innocent people suffer. Rather than a direct answer, God uses the weirdness and wildness of creation to alter Job’s sense of perspective. Share experiences of times when the vastness, beauty, mystery or power of nature have spoken to you. Why are some Christians suspicious of listening to God in nature? How can we, like Job, listen to God’s voice in nature? What does Job 38:25-27 imply about who or what God’s creation is for? Is it all for us? How should that affect our use of the earth’s resources? In a culture which revolves around human economy and society, how can we continually regain perspective on our place in God’s world – with God rather than us at the centre? Follow through Follow the media this week (TV, radio, papers, internet) and keep a note (mental or actual) of who the stories revolve around. How many are about human power, money, sex, and pleasure (including sport)? How are stories about ‘the environment’ – God’s creation – reported? Is the environment seen as just ‘for us’ – or for other species as well? Prayer You, O Lord, are the centre of all life. Protect me from the illusion that everything revolves around me. Make me more aware of other people and other creatures. May my thoughts and priorities revolve around you and your kingdom, as the earth orbits the sun. Amen.
Activity Go outside and spend ten minutes finding a natural object that gives you an insight into God’s character. Bring these back (or describe them if you can’t!) and share them together as a group, reflecting on what they show us about God. If the weather’s bad, prepare a tray of items beforehand. Talk about How does Solomon’s wisdom (especially as expressed in 4:33) compare to our culture’s understanding of wisdom? List all the natural objects and processes you can think of that Jesus used in his teaching. Why did he use nature so much in teaching us about God’s Kingdom? What does Jesus expect us to learn from meditating on (‘earnestly studying’) flowers and birds? The Bible and creation are sometimes spoken of as ‘God’s two books’. Which do you read most? How do they each speak, and how do they fit together? How might it affect our relationship with God, other people and nature, if we spent more time studying God’s book of works (creation)? Follow through ‘Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven’t done a thing. You are just talking.’ Wangari Maathai (Kenya’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate). Plant a tree, or at least something in a window box, and continue to nurture it. Prayer Open my eyes, Lord, that I might see your wonderful works. Let me delight in your creativity, be awed by your majesty, and discern your ways in your world. Grant me the patience to observe, the inquisitiveness to seek answers, and the wisdom that comes from meditating on your creation. Amen.
CL76 ©Dave Bookless
4. Calling Bible Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15; Romans 8:19 Talk about According to Genesis 1:26-28 what does being created in the image of God lead on to? The two words in Genesis 2:15 can be translated as ‘serve’ and ‘preserve’. How well does that describe our relationship to our environment, and how can we become better at it? If Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:15 together are ‘the first great commission’, do they still apply today? What do these passages tell us about our human calling in relation to the rest of creation? Romans 8:19 tells us that the environment/creation is waiting for the ‘children of God to be revealed’ (TNIV). What are the implications for your church? Activity Either listen prayerfully to the song ‘Creation Calls’ by Brian Doerksen (www.briandoerksen.com), or walk around the local area as a group. In both cases, reflect on our calling to be good stewards, and good news for all creation, Consider the implications at three levels: personal and household; church and community; political. Then share your ideas with somebody, writing them onto a large piece of paper with three large concentric circles (the smallest for personal/household, the next for church/community and the outer one for political). Follow through Each person chooses one practical implication at the personal and household level to commit to start putting into practice before the next session, and the group together decide on one action to follow through together at the church/community and/or political levels. Prayer Lord, you call us to serve and preserve your world. Give us a deep sense of the privilege and responsibility we share in the stewardship of your creation. Renew our sense of vocation as earthkeepers, that your will may be done and your kingdom come on earth as in heaven. Amen.
CL76 ©Dave Bookless
5. Vision Bible Isaiah 11:1-9 Activity Create your idea of heaven! Ideally have lots of coloured pencils/pens and maybe even some old magazines, scissors, glue etc. This could be done together on one large sheet, or individually. Finish by sharing what you’ve created. Be prepared to comment! Talk about In your ‘perfect world’, what of this world is kept in, and what left out? How does Isaiah 11’s vision (and other passages, such as Hosea 2 and Isaiah 65) compare to your vision? Jesus promises that one day he will make all things new, not lots of new things. How does this challenge today’s culture and some popular Christian ideas of heaven? The Greek word kainos meaning refined, restored or redeemed is always used in the New Testament to refer to new heavens, new earth, new creation... How does this help us re-imagine God’s future? What are the implications for how we treat other species and the earth’s resources? Follow through Jesus tells us to pray for God’s Kingdom ‘on earth’ as in heaven. Approaching Easter, try and live each day in the light of God’s future – seeking signs of God’s creating, purifying, restoring and renewing presence in the whole of creation (including people!). Prayer Pray as you meditate on these words from Tom Wright: ‘You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to fall over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are – strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself – accomplishing something which will become, in due course, part of God’s new world.’ (Surprised by Hope, SPCK, p.219-220)
Dave Bookless is A Rocha UK’s Director for Theology, Churches and Sustainable Communities. He’s the author of Planetwise (IVP).
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