Groundswell

This Sleeping Beauty has stirred a little. Enough to lead worship in England's largest parish, so they tell me. A flock of up to half a million? Plus 600 humans, fourteen of whom came to worship and one of whom is about to celebrate his hundredth birthday! I preached about not worrying, and quoted Charlie Brown 'I've learned to dread only one day at a time'. Jesus goes one better than that, and helps us replace worry about even one day with joy at God's presence in creation.

At least half of one of Sleeping Beauty's eyes is now open. Enough to see and delight that others are rising up.

Down Under Matthew Lamont has launched a magnificent series of workshops.

2017 WORKSHOPS with Matthew Lamont in Newcastle, NSW:

Saturday 11 March,2-5pm

Wisdom of the Circle: Contemplating the Mandala In this workshop we will enter into some of the sacred qualities of the mandala or ‘sacred circle’ arising from religious traditions and personal experience of art and creativity. Some of these qualities include the capacity of the mandala to enrich our lives and connect us to a vision of wholeness and belonging.

Saturday 29 April, 2-5pm Return to the Ground: Renewing our love for Mother Earth

Every moment of our lives and every memory has a ground, a place, a location. Many of us seek to be more ‘grounded’ in our daily lives yet also experience this as a profound challenge. Matthew will provide spaces that attend to our relationship to the earth through reflection on our lived experience, walking meditation and a practice that encourages our awareness of nature as ‘the Book of Creation’. We will conclude with a simple ‘praying with the earth’ liturgy.

Saturday 20 May, 2-5pm A Healing Balm: Letting go into Great Silence

Many spiritual traditions give silence and meditation a primary place. And for good reason! To enter into silence is often to experience a greater sense of clarity, healing, relaxation, connectedness, wonder and aliveness. In this session Matthew will use selected passages from the Gospels to guide participants into periods of silent meditation. Emphasis will be given to the practice of ‘letting go’ as a core teaching and dynamic. Guidance will be offered to anyone new to the practice of silence and meditation. More details below… Workshop cost is $30/$20 concession (includes refreshments and afternoon tea) Cash/cheque accepted on the day or contact Matthew for bank details. Please register your attendance by one week prior and advise of any dietary requirements via email: matthewc.lamont@gmail.com or mobile 0477 584 585

Then Sam Ewell of Winson Green, Birmingham UK comes into view with his 'Cultivating Abundant Community from the Ground Up'. He emails ' I thought learning to 'play in a band' with others meant learning to play their tunes, and there is something to this aspect of being a 'team player.' But the primary lesson of 2016 was learning to 'play the tunes' that God had given me to play. And that tune is healing landscapes and lives beginning with "the discarded.'

Winson Green is home to the 2nd largest prison in England, which is also a resettlement prison. While Winson Green is better (and notoriously) known as being the home of “Benefits Street” rather than as the home of green spaces, greenhouses, canals and the Centre of the Earth (a Wildlife Trust community educational centre), I was also drawn here to restore the brokenness and jagged beauty of these green spaces.

This second aspect relates directly to my “ecological conversion” in 2008 in Brazil, when I discovered a way to serve and follow Jesus – and therefore, become more fully human – by working with adamah – the soil (Gen 2:15).

Like the Celtic saints of another era, I long to share a gospel that (like the Celtic cross) directs us vertically towards God; horizontally towards our neighbours; and downwards as human beings rooted in the humus of the earth. What I observe, learn, and do with friends at local community gardens and with the network of friends at The Real Junk Food Project is the kind of interdependence, connection, and conviviality that I sense is often lacking, yet longed for, in Christian circles.

Cultivating abundant community in this place begins by seeking out “the discarded.” More specifically, the discarded refers to (1) people, especially ex-prisoners, asylum seekers and refugees; and (2) things, especially food waste and rubble. Both people and things in Summerfield / Winson Green are allegedly “rubbish,” worthy only of being discarded. So, descriptively, I am living out my passions by 1) turning rubbish into planters, food waste into soil, and 2) turning strangers into neighbours and friends who are connected. Vocationally, I am trying to find ways to show that both (1) and (2) are destined to become reincorporated and transformed into agents of renewal in God’s economy – the stones that the builders of this world have refused can and do become “living stones”.

By next week I hoped Sleeping Beauty will fully wake up. Its about time.

Posted at 12:27pm on 16th February 2017
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