RAINBOW WINTER 2019
Joint Lay Directors’ Message A message from Dawn and Steven Ridley, I wonder how many of you have thought about and maybe started new year’s resolutions? I’m afraid, I’m not one for such things – why make plans for a year when you do not know what might happen tomorrow? I find this even more so being a Christian, afterall, once you truly commit your life to God your life is no longer your own. At the beginning of 2018 I could not have suggested what the year might hold for Steven and me. Never Ever Ever Ever would I have even thought to suggest that we would be Joint Lay Directors for Ely Cursillo. As you will see from my report on Ely 34 God had to work hard just to get me to be Lay Rector. But doesn’t God have a wonderful way of leading, and possibly cajoling us to where he wants us to be? Now, Steven on the other hand, I could see had the necessary skills to be Lay Director, but would he agree to it… probably not in a million years. God knew the only one that might change Steven’s mind (in this instance!) was his wife. This time the gentle pushing and cajoling was from the other side. God used me – he put this funny little notion in my heart that we should take on Cursillo together, afterall I had the time and desire, and Steven had the skill set. God had set in motion His plan for (at least some of) our 2018, 2019 and possibly beyond. I think I can safely say, that although it has been hard work at times and rather busier than we might have hoped for, we have both been hugely blessed in 2018 by our 2 | Ely Cursillo | www.elycursillo.co.uk
involvement in Ely Cursillo. We are definitely looking forward to a ‘quiet’ retreat weekend in March. Now that Ely 34 is past we also hope to have more time to think and plan for the future of Ely Cursillo. I wonder what God is calling you to do in 2019. Will you listen to His call? Or will you turn up the distractions or maybe run a mile? Who will God put in your path to help you get to where he wants you? With this in mind, if you feel God prodding you to help in any way with your Cursillo community we would love to hear from you - no task is too small, a willing spirit is all you need. Steven and I would both like to give our heart felt thanks to all of our Cursillistas who have supported us both prayerfully and practically in the first months of our ‘leadership’. We very much appreciate and need your support. It is definitely the community that will keep Cursillo running and lead it into the future God has planned. Estelle may see Steven and I as the “heavy artillery” (read Estelle’s witness talk to find out more!), but trust me, we would be a sinking ship without all of your support. I pray that 2019 will see us all upholding one another in Christian Love. ULTREYA! Dawn & Steven Ridley Joint Lay Directors
‘NOW THE LORD IS THE SPIRIT AND WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS THERE IS FREEDOM…’ (2 Corinthians 3:17) FREEDOM JOURNEY Prompted by the Holy Spirit Who teaches us to pray I come to you Lord Jesus Today and every day Prompted by the Holy Spirit I yearn to know you more To follow in your footsteps To learn what life is for Heavenly Holy Father I will no longer roam Your shepherd love enfolds me And brings me safely home With humble heart rejoicing I want to follow you: Prompted by the Holy Spirit In everything I do The journey might be bumpy But with you, Lord, by my side I trust your Holy Spirit To be my constant guide. Marion Richards
IN THIS ISSUE SPRING 2018 Lay Directors’ Message from Dawn and Steven Ridley 2 Freedom Journey a poem from arion Richards 3 From your Spiritual Director a message from Rev. Kathy Bishop 4 - 5 Who’s Who The faces of our 4th Day Team 6-7 A Witness Talk by Estelle Howard 8-9 Ely 34 Lay Rector’s Report from Dawn Ridley 10 -11 God Knows! a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins sent in by Helen Randall 12 National Ultreya 2019 News from Chester 13 Lent Study 13 Book Recommendation 14 John Bridges tells us about Insight for Living Recommended Podcast 14 Shane Cunningham tells us about the Bible Project on Youtube A Cursillo Journey 15 by Simon Rogers Some BWH dates 16 Ely 34 Song Praying the Truth 17 by Roger Simmonds Friend or Stranger 18 a poem by Pauline Swinden Norwich Mothers Union Prayer 18 sent in by Maggie Graves Dates and Contact Information 19 Ely 34 Pictures! 20
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From Your Spiritual Director Rev. Kathy Bishop
We were fortunate to welcome Rev. James Shakespeare on board and found his presence very enriching. Kathryn Waite served for the first time as an SA which hopefully will mean sometime in the future she will serve again. The pilgrims were well prepared and sponsored so that they are now in group reunions to pursue their 4th Day. Many thanks to those who sponsored a pilgrim. We also are very grateful; as a team, for those who prayed for us during the weekend because this allows the Holy Spirit to work in us all. We are grateful to Bishop Stephen for presiding at the Clausaura. It is sign of the credibility of Cursillo as a movement in our diocese.
Dear Fellow Pilgrims, It seems amazing that I have been in the post of Spiritual Director for the second time since last April. The time has certainly flown by. I am thrilled to be serving both new and long term CursillIstas. My reflections on the weekend was that it was a challenge to many on a personal level, myself included. We were able to work together well and I once again marvelled at God’s hand in selecting just the right pilgrims and staff. Practical problems like the car park being repaired near the weekend fortunately all worked out in the end because it was ready for Thursday evening. 4 | Ely Cursillo | www.elycursillo.co.uk
Thoughts from one member of staff were that it was an ‘eye opener’ participating in a serving role and being responsible for the smooth running of the weekend. There was a sense of being outside the group. Yet, such a privilege to have participated in the weekend. I have been shown the power of God through weakness over and over again.
A bit of Cursillo fun from Kathryn and Kathy on Ely#34
Photos from the recent Prayer Day.
On our recent day of Reflection, I was feeling in need of nourishment spiritually and was very blessed by the workshops. I picked up a book by Ian Adam called Running on Rocks. It is a journey of deepening our faith. I have to say what caught my attention was a small section on thankfulness. Giving time to God so that he can show us how he has blessed us. The Examen was a way of achieving this and by recording the experience in a journal it could help us to see how we have grown in faith. I have been faithful each night so far. After the Eucharist, I was anointing people when one lady came up to me and I blessed her. I can honestly say it was amazing. I could not speak. I wanted to stay in the moment for as long as I could. I felt the Holy Spirit very strongly. What a wonderful experience. I often hear the phrase â€œthe bigger pictureâ€?. I think that this can apply to Cursillo. We need to pray for pilgrims and staff alike who are being called to grow in their experience of ministry. Clergy are very much needed and in the light of heavy schedules this is hard. Please pray for a successor to me.
My dream is that someone might be able to shadow me to prepare for taking over from me. Do you think God is nudging you to take on the role. Have a hunger to see God at work in the weekend and watch the progress of these special pilgrims. Let me know and we can work together. I am in touch with Eds and Ips Cursillo and shortly I will meet up in Ely with Peterborough Cursillo. It is good to have a broader perspective with regard to the running of Cursillo. Sharing and listening is always good. Ultreya! Rev.Kathy Bishop SD
Maggie, Kathryn, Kathy and Dawn Ely#34 www.elycursillo.co.uk | Ely Cursillo | 5
Ely Cursillo - Whoâ€™s Who CURRENT SECRETARIAT & 4th Day Roles
There are many opportunities to serve in the like to get know more about the vacant roles you all that is involved.
Spiritual Director: Rev. Kathy Bishop
BACC Rep: Jen Forester
4th Day Convenor: John Bridges
Treasurer: Derek Wilcox
Secretariat Secretary & Website Assistant: Barbara Clayton
Ultreya Organiser & Stores Organiser: Edna Brasher
One-Day Event Organiser: Sue Evans
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Group Reunion Coordinator: Sue Morley
Weekend and International Palanca Secretary: John Evans
Cursillo fourth day. Here are some of the people who have specific roles. If you would (without committing yourself) do get in touch with Dawn or Steven and they will tell Joint Lay Directors: Dawn & Steven Ridley
Music Coordinator, Website & Magazine Editor: Bridget Hickish
Weekend Booking Secretary: Sally Smith
Sponsorship Secretary: COULD THIS BE YOU? Art Angel: COULD THIS BE YOU?
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A Witness Talk by Estelle Howard AN UPLIFTING, AFFIRMING AND VERY AMUSING TALK FROM THE WELCOME BACK ULTREYA ON 1ST DECEMBER. ESTELLE KINDLY SAID WE COULD INCLUDE THIS TRANSCRIPT FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MISSED IT. Just over 5 years ago I was in a Waterstones bookshop in Cambridge, browsing for a novel when my eyes fell upon the cover of a book on one of the tables. I picked the book up and I read a couple of paragraphs totally at random. That one act changed my life. The book is “Unapologetic. How Christianity can make surprising emotional sense”. I don’t know how that book which should never have been in the novels section in the first place was there but it was.....and I put it back on the table and walked out of the bookshop.
Now here I was. Well, there was Andy lurking by the door and he said “This lady here is Olivia and she will guide you through the service”. The fabulous or should that be infamous Olivia was almost apologetic as I was treated to the, at the time, bizarre form of human yoyoing that is a CofE service - stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, sit. It ended I still had a bewildered face and I left the church with Andy saying “How did you find it? was it ok? We’ve not frightened you off have we?” before nervously laughing. Once I’d got used to the weirdness and realised that it is ok to be peculiar I started to help out at services and it felt good to be a part of something good in the world, to be actively Christianising.
It was only bits and bobs things, an initial toe in As I walked home that evening I kept thinking over the water but it felt genuinely good to start to get those two paragraphs I’d read. They made so much God. I did an Alpha course, a Discipleship course, sense. It wasn’t written in a high academic way but Bible study groups a bit of sides-manning, a bit of in a way that was bang on my wavelength. I lay in choir. You don’t see all the components in a fully bed that night and I thought about the book again seaworthy ship, so as the little unseen things help and I knew I had to buy it so the next day off I went the Kingdom of God to function. to Waterstones after work and looked through it Then....yes, it was that woman again, that Olivia again holding it like so so no one could see that I woman who a year after my first experience of church was reading a book on Christianity, and, after hiding asked if I would be interested in going on a Cursillo it between two novels so the cashier didn’t think I weekend. It was the return of was weird, I bought this book. my perplexed look that I had I started reading it the same Openly encouraging each had when I first came to church evening and later that week took it with me on holiday to other and sharing engendered “Going on a what weekend?” I Vienna because I like to give a desire to serve God more said. Olivia said “It’s really nice and you get to explore your faith my books a good time. It was seriously and with more a lot more” on the moving escalator at Heathrow airport on returning thought and renewed focus. So, I said “O... K so what does a weekend entail exactly?” and to Blighty that I announced to She said “I can’t tell you anymore or it’ll spoil the mum that I was going to go to Church. surprise” and I’m like Eh? What? All very vague. Like my faith was at that time vague, fluffy and muzzy. When I’d managed to get medical help to get her So I said “I’m not sure” Olivia. Now she’d been upright again and fanned her once she’d come clever had Olivia, she hadn’t just asked me she had round and we’d got home I wrote an email to the asked one of my best church mates too. She had vicar of Trumpington Church. I had warned Andy to asked Chris as well. We were both a bit unsure so be on the lookout for a lady in a denim jacket with Olivia now she’s dropped her line and the bait in a bewildered face so he would definitely know who the water, goes and gets her nets “Why don’t you the newbie was. I was really uncomfortable that first come round for dinner with my lovely friends Sue time I walked towards the church and the bells were and John. They’ve both done Cursillo and you can clanging away. I almost turned back because I was ask them any questions about it.” So me and Chris entering a totally alien environment. I had been an go round Olivia’s and meet Sue and John and me atheist for over 20 years and had thought religion a and Chris said “what’s this Cursillo all about then?” crutch for losers to get through life with. 8 | Ely Cursillo | www.elycursillo.co.uk
I gave up full time work in January 2016, put my house on the market in March 2016 and watched as 4 months after selling it the buyer pulled out and I had to start all over again. I sold it again making sure that the buyer was going to live in it and not buy it to rent out, and in November of 2016 my house was legally someone else’s. During this time I qualified as an Authorised Lay Pastoral Now there were lots of Assistant and I am able nice things on that Cursillo to spend time visiting the weekend lots of very intense housebound and taking faith Goddy Godly things and them out to various things to by Saturday the vast majority keep them out of mischief. of the rest of the weekend I run our churches Pastoral was spent in a state of near outreach group and help out exhaustion. Time got very at Open The Book at Fawcett warped on that weekend. school in Trumpington. I By the time it got to the Estelle as part of the Gofor team on Ely 34 have also just completed my end service on the Sunday initial training to be a Chaplaincy Volunteer Visitor afternoon, the 72 hours we had spent at Bishop at Addenbrookes hospital. During all of these Woodford House felt like 172 hours I felt unsure years God has manifested his presence in so many about what the weekend had been about for a few different ways, from a robin singing on a fence to the months afterwards. I was encouraged to go to a overwhelming sense of feeling loved by something group reunion at this time too. I was still unsure if other and that love issuing from me as I prayed one this was all really for me. evening on my discipleship course, to the moments when God hasn’t felt so close. That 3 weeks of But I kept going.... Olivia was in my reunion group absence I felt after one Easter and the sinister forces and just for good measure so were Dawn and Steve. that lay waiting in the void that God had left. To the So me and Chris purely by random chance of where unanswered prayers you have to try to make sense we lived were meeting up not with the stationary of. All this and hopefully a lot more to come. supplies and paper napkin division of the Cursillo army, no we were in with the armoured tanks, heavy My life will at some artillery and Zeppelins. We continued to meet up point change again. discussing faith action just life in general and every Me and mum live in time I went and spent time with Dawn and Steve a council flat. It’s a they became just that bit less weird-ISH.. very nice council flat. My mum is the only This was when things changed in my life quite tenant allowed on the considerably again. Not so much a moment but tenancy. I am a tenant rather a period of time. The emphasis in our group but am not allowed to of openly encouraging each other and sharing be on the tenancy. This engendered a desire to serve God more seriously means that when mum and with more thought and renewed focus. I started goes back home to God I will have to leave as I will to drastically rethink my life. I was happy at church have no rights to stay in our home. Where I will live, but very unhappy at work. I made a decision in June where I will go I don’t know but I have to believe that 2015 that I have never regretted. It’s one of the best God will take care of this, even if I wind up in a shed decisions that I have ever made. I asked mum if I somewhere on an allotment near Kidderminster. I could move back in with her and sell my house. If I would like to ask what the future will be about but sold my house I would no longer have a mortgage I know God won’t be letting on or He’d spoil the and if I didn’t have a mortgage I could afford to work surprise.... part time and use the spare time in the service of the church. Something that gives me great joy. Ultreya! www.elycursillo.co.uk | Ely Cursillo | 9 and Sue and John said “It’s really nice you get to explore your faith in more depth.” Yes, we said but what does that mean? .....”We can’t tell you or it would spoil the surprise” So the upshot was that me and Chris had to say yes and go on this weekend to find out what those things were that they wouldn’t tell us about.
Lay Rector’s Report Ely #34 Dawn Ridley When I was asked to take on lay rector for Ely 34, I was very hesitant. It was only with some rather less than gentle pushing from Steven that I agreed. – Steven pushed away all my excuses for not taking on Lay Rector, and with hindsight I’m pretty certain that God was backing Steven all the way until I finally agreed! As Sarah handed over the ‘baton’ (bags, memory stick, folders, and the rather scary responsibility) I found the note – ‘Do your best and God will do the rest’. And so it was that my prep for Ely 34 began. I found there were many challenges as I moved forward, not least that of using a computer, but God was on my side and he made sure Steven was available to help me at the times I most needed it. As I was preparing for Ely 34 I was also leant several books all of which talked about different peoples journeys to and experiences of God. It was totally unintentional that I both began and
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ended the weekend with the song “Our God is a great big God”. But this was something God was definitely getting across to me through my preparation, the books I had been leant and the weekend itself.
Learning to fully trust God is definitely not easy! Despite being as ready as humanly possible, I was still anxious the night before Ely 34 was to start. Would the team all turn up? Would the pilgrims turn up? Was my script right, and what about my rollos – should I go back over them… Maybe I should have spent more time practising my script…. By 6.30pm on the first evening I was silently thanking God that all staff and
from the books I had been reading prior to the weekend, I had many moments that spoke to me of how big and awesome God is. This was so powerful at times that it was actually quite scary and I had no idea how to deal with the experiences.
pilgrims alike had safely made it to the weekend, and even better, there was a hum of conversation in the lounge. The weekend seemed to bloom from here. The 15 rollos & 5 meditations were inspirational, thought provoking and delivered with a deep understanding of God’s love. Discussions appeared to flow well from the beginning. There was fun and laughter with the values exercise, table mats and very inventive sketches. And the healing service and cross lit meditation focussed us on God and appeared to have a profound effect on many.
Ely 34 has shown me how small I make God. God has blown me away with what can be done through prayer, love and letting go and letting God. God surrounded Ely 34 in his love, grace, joy, peace and holy spirit. I have to share my gratitude with the wonderful team who worked so hard and truly put the pilgrims first, and to the fantastic pilgrims who all participated so whole heartedly throughout the whole weekend. My prayer for Ely cursillo is that we will all come to fully realise and truly believe, “Our God is a great big God, and he holds us in his hands.” ULTREYA!
From the lay rector position I have to admit that I felt quite jealous of the table leaders. Although I was leading us through the weekend, I felt like I was behind a glass pane, unable to fully participate or reach into the thoughts and feelings of the table groups. The team around me all did such a good job that I didn’t feel like I was needed at times. Having said that, what a privilege it was to hold pilgrims and staff alike in prayer and be part of their journey. The transformation visible in the faces of pilgrims and staff alike by the end of the weekend was incredible to see. On a personal level, God also worked in me over the weekend and following on www.elycursillo.co.uk | Ely Cursillo | 11
by Minnie Louise Haskins
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East. So heart be still: What need our little life Our human life to know, If God hath comprehension? In all the dizzy strife Of things both high and low, God hideth His intention. God knows. His will Is best. The stretch of years Which wind ahead, so dim To our imperfect vision, Are clear to God. Our fears Are premature; In Him, All time hath full provision. Then rest: until God moves to lift the veil From our impatient eyes, When, as the sweeter features Of Life’s stern face we hail, Fair beyond all surmise God’s thought around His creatures Our mind shall fill. sent in by Helen Randall
NATIONAL ULTREYA GB - CHESTER 2019 Chester Cursillo are busy with plans for the Ultreya this year and ask you to put the date in your diaries now! SATURDAY 31ST AUGUST 2019 AT CHESTER CATHEDRAL Chester is a city in northwest England, founded as a Roman fortress in the 1st century A.D. It’s known for its extensive Roman walls made of local red sandstone. In the old city, The Rows is a shopping district distinguished by 2-level covered arcades and Tudor-style half-timber buildings. A Roman amphitheatre, with ongoing excavations, lies just outside the old city’s walls. So a lot to explore if you wish to make a weekend trip. We will not be holding any evening entertainment and the day will close with the Eucharist. Please keep an eye on the BACC website and our own www.chestercursillo.org.uk. More details and how to book will be on there as soon as possible.
LENT STUDY Whilst the diocese is not producing a Lent course this year, The Rev’d Canon Dr Jessica Martin at Ely Cathedral has produced Your Call: follow the Way of Life this Lent. This material is designed to link to the Diocesan Way of Life and to the Church of England's #EverydayFaith campaign, and Jessica will be making the resources available to the diocese shortly. The following is a short outline of the material:
Your Call: Follow the Way of Life this Lent Using extracts from the readings for the Sundays in Lent, Your Call explores how each of us responds to Jesus’ call to follow him. Every week we look at different aspects of Jesus’s call, drawn from the different aspects of discipleship which the Way of Life resources help us with. We focus particularly on Wholeness and Holiness, Witness and Kindness, and draw it all together, in the last week that we meet, by pondering the shape of our personal vocations. Session 1: The Call to Holiness Session 2: The Call to Listen Session 3: The Call to Witness Session 4: The Call to Love Session 5: The Call to Christ AVAILABLE NOW FROM HERE: https://www.elydiocese.org/parish-support/parish-resources/lent www.elycursillo.co.uk | Ely Cursillo | 13
BOOK RECOMMENDATION I would like to recommend the regular 'Insight for Living' (IfL) publications & support for their uplifting and true and devout exhortations to read a Christian life and follow God. IfL was founded in America 40 years ago by Chuck Swindoll, and well known Pastor and teacher. In their latest magazine: Our spiritual health is as important as our physical health and nutrition. Without sufficient and regular Biblical nutrition our inner lives suffer. Our souls long to be nourished and energised by the Scriptures. When we fail to set aside consistent time to digest healthy spiritual food, the consequences kick in...and it's not a pretty sight. We start to operate out of the flesh rather than God's spirit. We become shallow and selfish, more demanding, less gentle. We react impatiently, rashly, and angrily. All tell-tale signs of inner malnutrition. For your soul to be properly nourished, it's not enough to have a pastor or a teacher serve you your spiritual meals one a week. YOU need to be able to prepare your own spiritual food on a daily basis. Can't argue with that! John Bridges
RECOMMENDED PODCAST from Shane Cunningham
I would like to recommend a podcast called The Bible Project. It is a weekly conversation between Tim Mackie and Jon Collins. In the podcast Tim and Jon put together ideas for their very wonderful videos explaining the books of the bible. (All the videos are free on Youtube.) Their conversations are a joy to listen to as they explore diverse topics from the bible and opening up new, yet ancient themes. It has been an inspirational experience, I feel I have been given a real gift of grown-up teaching, where the writing is joined up. Tim Mackieâ€™s love for Jesus is always present. He is a recognized biblical scholar but is able to use words that I am able to understand. While Jon Collins is incredible at asking all the questions you would want to ask. I recommend this podcast highly. It has refreshed my love and understanding of Jesus.
A Cursillo Journey by Simon Rogers Simon tells the story of his Cursillo journey. A pilgrim in 2012 and a table leader in on Ely 34 in 2018. Both experiences, he says, are ones which he values and which have given him confidence in his 4th Day life. In February 2012 I was encouraged and sponsored by friends from St Mary’s in Burwell to pilgrim on Ely 23. The Cursillo experience was quite overwhelming. Christian care and love shone through the weekend, providing an opportunity to review my journey of faith in a safe environment, and together with others at different stages of their life journey. At the end of the weekend I returned home exhausted, having made a 4th day commitment to involve myself more deeply in Parish life.
supporting parish life. Eventually about 3 years ago, a new Group Reunion was set up in the village, and I was persuaded to join that. When my time as churchwarden ended in April 2018, I experienced an unexpected vacuum in my church life which was quite disconcerting, and for a while I felt that I had wandered off the pilgrim path.
However God works in wonderful and mysterious ways, and in July last year I was asked by Dawn Ridley to consider staffing on Ely 34. My first reaction was to shy away from the My friends suggested opportunity, but reflection and The evening that I returned home my prayer led me to the conclusion wife suffered an anaphylactic episode that dark forces were that I might have something to from a previously unknown allergy to offer, and also to the realisation at work!! mustard, and before the end of the that I needed a new challenge. month I was in hospital briefly with pneumonia, which set off permanent Atrial Fibrillation - my So after 6 years I was reunited with the Cursillo family, friends suggested that dark forces were at work!! made new friends and reconnected with some older ones from Ely 23. Participating as a table leader was However in April 2012, I was challenging, but it was a real privilege to be part of elected a churchwarden at a team interacting with a new group of pilgrims on St. Mary’s. Over the next few their journey of faith. Personally it has given me the years I remained in touch confidence to look for new challenges in my “4th with Cursillo mainly though day” life in parish and community. other Cursillistas in Burwell, but concentrated primarily on Ultreya! Simon Rogers Simon on Ely 34
Simon with fellow pilgrims and team on Ely 23 February 2012 www.elycursillo.co.uk | Ely Cursillo | 15
STUDY If there are any good courses or church events near you in the Aummer of 2019, please do send the info to Bridget for inclusion in the next magazine.
DAYS OF REFLECTION AT BISHOP WOODFORD HOUSE Arrive 9.30am for 10am start Friday 22 February Reflections from ‘The Female Preacher’ “Love the Lord with all of Your Heart.” Peculiar Medinus Friday 29 March Time for God With the Creative Arts Retreat Movement Led by Sue Ives of CARM Friday 26 April Body Matters How does the individual relate to the Body of Christ? Revd. Steve Clark See the full programme at: www.bishopwoodfordhouse.com/
St Francis Team / Ely 34 A Song (Sung to the tune of I the Lord of Sea and Sky)
We are Ely Thirty-Four Lots of things we’ve had in store Many talks we’ve had to hear Then talk about Lovely gifts we have received Thinking bout what we believe We are growing in our faith Sing Ultreya Here we are Lord Yet more food Lord We have found chocolate in the night We will go Lord When the bell rings We’ll take five pounds upon our thighs We have faced our silent night Palanca bags were a delight Butterflies are everywhere With rainbows too We have broken hearts of stone Learned of love of God alone We are growing in our faith Sing Ultreya
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Here we are Lord Yet more food Lord We have found chocolate in the night We will go Lord When the bell rings We’ll take five pounds upon our thighs
Praying the Truth
from Roger Simmonds
I’m not sure if this comes under the heading of a ‘Witness Talk’ about ‘Piety’ (with a big ‘P’), ‘Study’ or a book review. The book in question is called, “Praying the Truth”, written by Father William Barry, a Jesuit priest who is also an experienced psychotherapist. It’s wonderful how God seems to give one the right book at the right time -- that is, when He thinks you are ready for it! Parts of “Praying the Truth: Deepening Your Friendship with God through Honest Prayer” are quite challenging, but I read it with much joy, and, having read it, went back to the beginning and started again, taking it just a little bit slower this time. Especially the bits I thought God was challenging me with! The book doesn’t say new things -- and it doesn’t have any startling revelations about God and the Universe (and, as one comic put it, all that surrounds it), but it did give me a gentle push - and the book is nothing if not gentle - along the path I’ve been trying to walk for some time. . So what is “Praying the Truth”? Isn’t the title (if not the book) a bit vague? Well, an alternative title could be, “Praying the Psalms, an introduction to using the Psalms as a model for our own prayers”. So the book is well grounded in Scripture, and will get you searching the Bible, which is where the ‘Study’ bit comes in. Fr. Barry’s core insight is that what God desires from us, above all else, is a close friendship, with all that that implies. For example, we can be ourselves with friends, we don’t need to pretend and share what is uppermost in our minds at the time. Without this, if we become too inhibited, if we are not being emotionally honest and authentically ourselves, the friendship will stagnate and become boring. I’m sure that, like me, you can think of personal examples. I have, or had, a very dear friend who became a supercilious and cynical atheist. Now, when we meet there are ‘no go’ areas, and our conversation has become stilted and polite. Not what we want with friends, or with God! Fr. Barry provides many examples from the Psalms where the poet is open about his feelings, even those which we ourselves -- respectable, good, people might prefer to keep hidden. Here are a few of his chapter headings: ‘Telling God about your fears’; ‘Telling God about your sadness’; ‘Telling God about your successes’, (well, really!); alarmingly, ‘God’s interest in Our Past Sins’ (answer, reassuringly, is, ‘not very’). Other topics include: sins, anger, rage,
frustration, pettiness (huh?) and (oh dear!) sexuality. As I said, some things we really would prefer to keep hidden, but, if we are truthful, we need to tell God. But doesn’t God already know about all these things? Yes, says Fr Barry, but it is important we acknowledge them before God, that we speak them out and, listen to God’s reaction, to hear what He says. In a friendship, after all, listening is as important, if not more important, than speaking! Very often we will feel that God has heard us, accepts us and still loves us, and we are comforted. For example, Psalm 73 has the lament, “Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure . . . All day long I have been plagued . . . I have been punished every morning”. Hmmm ... we’ve all felt like that - well, a bit! Having complained to God, or even shouted at Him, the psalmist pauses, he is changed, and the Psalm finishes on a positive note: “But as for me, it is good to be near God, I have made the sovereign God my refuge”. So if the psalmist can speak their truth to God, so can we. And often, says Fr. Barry (and this has been my experience too), when we have been real with God, we gain insight into our own feelings and behaviour, which is of course good, but God loves us too much to leave it at that. What He seeks is transformation. Having dealt with some quite difficult aspects of life, it comes as something of a relief that other chapter headings include: “Thanking God”; “What we learn about God”, and, best of all He keeps the best, longer chapter till last. This is: “Friendship with God Humanises us”. Hopefully, by following the spiritual exercises, we become more accepting of situations, ourselves and of others, and Fr. Barry gives not a few examples from the Psalms, which, hopefully, will lead to life-affirming actions (or even, in the case of a Cursillista) ‘Apostolic Action’! So I wholeheartedly recommend this book and its exercises - practises Christians have been doing down the centuries - if your friendship with God has stagnated a bit and want a greater intimacy with Our Lord. You will, at the very least, find out more about yourself, both good and bad, and, as we are promised, “The Truth will set us Free”. www.elycursillo.co.uk | Ely Cursillo | 17
Friend or Stranger
If Jesus came to our town I wonder what we’d do. Would He be welcomed with a smile Or with a frown or two Would we all know Him straight away Or would He be a stranger Would He be pleased and want to stay Or might there be a danger That He would simply disappear Before we’d all decided To say the words He longed to hear For fear we’d be derided. To simply say ‘We love you, friend Please stay with us for ever,’ And hear Him answer in the end. ‘My friend, I’ll leave you never.’ Would we be scared and want to run Or would we understand That Jesus was the only one We’d need to hold our hand. Sure that would be a perfect day One we would ne’er forget. When we decided what to say. Our finest moment yet. Pauline Swinden #Ely 29
Holy God, you sent a star to guide the Wise Men to worship your Son Jesus. We ask that you send your Holy Spirit to guide our Church as we begin a New Year in our Christian life together. Remind us daily Lord that When the song of the angel is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and the princes are home. The work of Christmas begins. To find the lost. To heal the broken. To feed the hungry. To release the prisoner. To rebuild the nations. To bring peace among people. To make music in the heart. AMEN sent in by Maggie Graves taken from Norwich Mother’s Union 18 | Ely Cursillo | www.elycursillo.co.uk
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