The Way of Ignatius
A Prayer Journey through Lent: The focus for this particular lent retreat has been on pilgrimage, with sessions including, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, “Journeys of self discovery”, “the Pilgrim sets out”, and “who do you say I am?”. My favourite part of this journey though has been the repetitive prayer at the end of the session:
“You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me
only your love and grace, that is enough for me.”
This is somewhat a ‘dangerous prayer’ to say, acknowledging that the Lord has given me all I have. Would I be willing to return it if asked? Would you? Is God’s love and grace, the sacrifice he made for us for the forgiveness of our sins, really enough? This is the perfect season to wonder.
On Palm Sunday I taught Godly Play. During the teaching I encouraged the children to take part in the story, laying down purple coats and palm leaves saying “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”. I asked the children how it felt to participate in that story. I wonder what it would have been like to be there?
How wonderful was it to participate in such a contemplative and solemn service. I went home in tears and wonder of what Jesus did for us on that day. A prayer that spoke to my heart on Good Friday was: Lord Jesus Christ, the story of your suffering is written on our hearts,
and the salvation of the world is in your outstretched hands. Keep your victory always before our eyes, your praise on our lips, your peace in our lives. Amen.
Isn’t Easter Sunday just such a glorious, joyful day? Just speaking the words, “Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!” is so powerful. Nothing else needs to be said, however I did enjoy reflecting on this prayer: “Most glorious Lord of life, we thank you for
the mystery of Easter. Fill us with the Spirit of love, and unite us in faith, that we may witness to the Resurrection and show your glory to all the world.”
My hope in this blog post is that you can appreciate the rich liturgy and prayers we have to express worship towards God. I find it so helpful in my prayer life, and so powerful speaking words that are said by others and have been said for so long throughout history.
Now I’m looking forward to Pentecost and praying with others around the world through Thy Kingdom Come. You can find out more about that here.
In our Anglican Liturgical calendar we are blessed with these wonderful times of reflection on our faith throughout the year. Traditionally during the season of Lent we spend the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday, fasting, healing and anticipating the Great celebrations of Holy Week and Easter. This year in my own journey of Lent I have embraced the traditions of our church and taken the time to participate in the Ash Wednesday service, Good Friday, Palm Sunday (where I had the pleasure of teaching Godly Play), and of course Easter Sunday. I also followed a wonderful program that released teachings for each week of lent: The way of Ignatius: A Prayer Journey through Lent from the pray as you go app (https://pray-as-you-go.org/retreat/lent-retreat-2019-the-way-of-ignatius-loyola).
Here is my first reflection of my Lenten Journey that I hope may offer some inspiration for you:Ash Wednesday: Before receiving the Ashes during the Wednesday Service the priest says the following words:
“Blessed are you God of all creation. You are eternal, we are mortal, formed from the dust of the earth. As we receive these ashes, make them a sign for us of repentance and returning to you. Breathe into us again the breath of life. Blessed be God forever.”
Following this as we receive the ashes we are told, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Think about that for a moment. God is eternal, we are mortal, formed from dust, to which we will return. We depend on God for the breath of life, how does knowing that affect your daily life?
Ash Wednesday is the day the season starts. Come back next week to read about my experiences of the next 40 days.
… that from 10.30am on Saturday December 15th we will be hosting Carols, Cappuccinos & Celebrations of Christmas and the re-opening of our heritage church.
We have all-day activities for the whole family to enjoy. The day will start with a Carols service at 10.30am themed Australind, Did You Know? followed by our usual hospitality of free sausage sizzle and cappuccinos. After, we have a fashion parade organised by the amazing St Nic’s Op Shop team, specialty stalls and a bouncy castle!
This is a free event and all are welcome!
If you would like more information please contact us here.
Last Sunday, a contingent of parishioners from St Nic’s enjoyed participating in a Churches Together prayer meeting hosted by Eaton Baptist Church. The family friendly gathering was an inspiring collection of Christians from all over the Bunbury region with one purpose: to unite in prayer.
I had never stepped foot into the building before, but immediately there was a sense of familiarity. There was a warmth to the atmosphere emanating from the common thread we all shared, our love for our Lord and Saviour.
I am not gifted sufficiently with the art of words to do justice to the evening in this blog post. Instead, all I can do is encourage you to join us at the next gathering of Churches Together – God only knows what wonders He can do with it!
Churches Together prayer meetings are generally bimonthly – keep checking the St Nic’s website for details of the next meeting.
How to Journal?
Now, if the previous post has convinced you that this is worth it, the question is where to start? How does one develop a journaling habit?
The most freeing thing I have learnt is that there are no rules to this. Journaling is something that is meant to help you relieve stress, not add to it, so the key is to make it work for you. Below I will write about what works for me, and other tips that I have read, but honestly just experiment with it until you have a method that works.
How long for? Now I tend to journal just as I need to, as having a ‘rule’ that I must journal every day, at a specific time, tends to make me panic and not do it. Many ‘journaling for beginners’ articles (such as this one from Mindful Parenting and this one from the Gospel Coalition) suggest starting by setting a rhythm of picking a time each day, for around 10-15 minutes and just writing about anything.
What do I use? I love pretty stationery and I’m rewards-oriented so I buy nice journals a lot and good pens. I also love organisation so I have a prayer journal, a goals journal, a study journal etc. Again though, this needs to be what works for you. A lot of people now use an iPad, computer or their phone to journal – apps like ‘Evernote’ and ‘Microsoft OneNote’ are good. There is definitely no one ‘right way’ here, at the end of the day any form of paper, pen or technological item will work.
What to write? This is generally the hard bit for people, and I can relate to staring at a blank page or screen and wondering where to start. What I would suggest here is to use the prompts in the Boundaries course book each week, or for anyone not studying boundaries – start with writing down your thoughts on Sunday’s sermons, what did you learn? How is it applicable to your life? Then as you go through the week, write about any worries or stressors, write down the good things that happen or things you are thankful for. Once you start, the possibilities are endless!
Hopefully this has provided you with some inspiration and ideas for how to approach journaling. I encourage you to just give it at try, and pray that you’ll be surprised and blessed by the experience.
This week and next week will feature a two part series on Journaling by Dannielle Barry.
Many of us (40 odd!) here at St Nic’s are currently studying the Boundaries course in our small groups on either Tuesday or Wednesday. In our Boundaries workbook there is a section on journaling, which is what I’d like to talk about in these posts.
It’s a love-hate relationship…
First of all I should say that I have a love-hate relationship with journaling. Fortunately now its more often love than hate, and it often comes naturally, but it has taken a little bit of effort and practice to get to that point. I say this to give you hope. If these journaling sections intimidate or even terrify you, it’s okay, it will get easier, there’s light at the end of the tunnel – and I promise the experience is helpful, and maybe even rewarding.
For me journaling provides an outlet when I feel overwhelmed: with thoughts, with life, with questions. Have you ever had the experience of racing thoughts, too much to think about, that awful panicked or anxious feeling? Try writing some of it down. The act of physically putting thoughts on paper will often stop the thought spiral or slow it down, and making short lists when you feel like you have to much to do helps to form a plan of attack. Often I’m surprised that in taking this time to write I realise that the things I need to do are achievable, and the things I’ve been worried about might not be as bad as first thought.
Another good reason to journal is to keep records, particularly records of prayer requests and answered prayer. This is only something I’ve started this year, but it has been such a blessing to go back over my prayer requests and record some of the ways God has answered them. In doing this I’ve also realised how quick I can be to forget all the times God has provided, and therefore so quick to doubt and question whether he’ll be faithful again in my future worries and problems. Keeping records also helps me to reflect on my life journey, learn from it and see the ways I am constantly growing and changing. Having recorded stories of good memories and not so good has been an unexpected blessing, a way to really see how God is working all things for my good (Romans 8:28).
If you’re not yet convinced there is also some evidence that journaling can be good for your health. One psychologist from Texas, James Pennebaker has researched the strengthening effect journaling has on our immune cells. Other research into problem solving hypothesizes that by transferring our thoughts to paper the right side of the brain becomes unlocked to solve problems from a creative point of view rather than the left brained analytical approach we tend to.
Please visit again for next week’s Journaling Part 2: The only rule? There are none…
The Anglican Diocese of Bunbury, Western Australia joyfully elected its 10th Bishop of the Diocese during its Election Synod meeting on the 15th-16th June 2018, following a period of searching and discernment from around the country. This news is now being shared around the Diocese.
The Bishop Elect is Rev’d Dr Ian Coutts, who currently works for both Anglicare NSW/ACT and St Marks Theological Centre in the ACT. Rev’d Ian Coutts was ordained Deacon in 1989 and Priest in 1990 in Birmingham, UK.
As an ordained Anglican priest, Ian has served in parishes in Birmingham and on the outskirts of London; he has planted a church and been a priest with Permission To Officiate in London, Oxford, and Canberra & Goulburn Diocese in Australia.
Academically, Ian was awarded an M.Sc and Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW) from Jesus College Oxon; a Post Graduate Diploma of Theology from St John’s College, Nottingham and a BA (Jt Hons) in Sociology and Education from Warwick University. Ian completed his Ph.D after arriving in Australia on the subject of the Family from a Trinitarian theological perspective. He is also a qualified social worker with particular experience in the fields of child protection and domestic violence.
Ian and his wife Anne emigrated from the UK in 2011 when his wife was offered a school principal’s job in the ACT; and with other family already living in Australia, the decision to emigrate was simple. Ian and Anne are both Australian citizens. Ian and his wife Anne have two daughters and two grandchildren still living in England.
Ian is arguably unique in the Anglican leadership as a senior priest with a strong practice background as a social worker. Ian’s colleagues comment he is a man of profound Christian conviction, moral integrity and professional excellence. The best traditions of theological scholarship inform his thinking and scholarly learning and he is passionate about his commitment to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Ian’s interests include flying and he has a British pilot’s licence and enjoys recreational flying but does not own his own plane; and swimming, retreats, prayer time and holidays!
The Diocese of Bunbury (and we here at St Nic’s!) is delighted with his election and are looing forward to welcoming him to the Diocese in the coming months.
For further details, please contact the Diocesan Office on 0408 916 129 or 08 9721 2100.
Reproduced with permission. Italicised text added.
Last Thursday, St Nicholas’s Craft Group joined thousands of others in hosting the Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea. Over $920 was raised to help the fight against cancer!
Sixty-five members of our local community joined in to support the cause. The Australind Bridge Club provided a welcome boost to the overall amount with their generous donations.
“People seemed to enjoy themselves, the donations of cakes and savouries was excellent as usual,” said organiser Fran Craig. “We do it to help people with cancer, everybody that you speak to knows somebody who has suffered from cancer in some form or other. It’s all around us. It’s a cause close to our hearts, many of our parishioners have lost someone. Cancer does not discriminate.”
Special thanks to Stephen & Julie Lucas from Australind Post Office & Gifts and Rob Bertolli from Terry White Chemmart for their generous gifts for the door prize and raffle. Lucky attendees Val, Betty, Lois, Robyn, Pat, Judy & Geoff won the raffle spot prizes and Beryl scored the door prize.
Rev Jamie assisted with the raffle and Father Brian gave an inspiring address, “Never be negative, always be positive… with your small contribution we are all part of the ultimate solution.”
This year is the 6th year the Craft Group have hosted the event. If anyone would like to join the Craft Group you are most welcome Thursdays 10am- 12noon at the church. Bring your project and enjoy a cuppa and fellowship.
My primary motivation to go to Rosalind Brown’s talk was because I had assigned myself the task of writing a post about it. After all, this respected author of Being a Priest Today was being hosted by St Nicholas for the Day in the Diocese.
In the closing address, Archdeacon Julie put it perfectly for me when she conceded “could’ve been in the office doing important looking stuff” (my important looking stuff is exponentially less important looking than what I imagine our esteemed Archdeacon has to do). However Julie, like myself, thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from the talk and it was (to once again quote her) “a real treat”.
Rosalind’s talk was engaging, well delivered, insightful, thought-provoking and oftentimes humorous. A handout with an assortment of “I wonder” phrases given during the interim discussions made me laugh. For those of you familiar with Godly Play (the Montessori style ‘Sunday school’ we run at our family service) you would understand why; it felt a bit like Godly Play for Grown-ups minus the craft.
Rosalind’s address was delivered in three parts. The first was titled “Taking our smallness lightly but our presence seriously” (a quote from Joan Chittester and drew heavily upon Rowan Williams book Faith in the Public Square). The second part was an intriguing examination of Benedictine hospitality. Finally, the third, a biblical talk on Hagar and Elijah.
We are all of equal value to God
A particular point that stood out to me was that of each individual’s value. That is, we are all of equal value to God. Whether it was a Williams quote or her own, I loved it when Rosalind stated that “there are no superfluous or spare people”. This is profound for those of us with distorted views of our self-worth but also a challenge. This value does not come from one’s own merit but from who we are to God. We are precious in His eyes.
The connection Rosalind drew between the viewpoint of Equal Value and its implication for the current attitudes to work, attitudes like the increasingly demanding and all-consuming expectance of performance driven from both forces within and external to the worker. Dehumanising was the word used and I am finding it hard to disagree. The connection was startling in its directness yet disturbingly unsurprising all the same. How often have we felt sucked into that seemingly inescapable cycle of commitments and additional ‘extra credit’ projects all for the so called sake of… what? Our boss? Or our professor’s approval? Our career aspirations? Or perhaps our own so-called ‘self-improvement’?
That last paragraph sounds rather negative and depressing (I assure on the whole, the talk was actually very encouraging). But perhaps instead of boring you with another few hundred words or so I might instead heed Rosalind’s recommendation and read the transcript of Rowan William’s lecture ‘Benedict and the future of Europe’. And likewise, I might wonder about my own rhythm of life. And perhaps if you too dear reader, are intrigued or are one of the many ever-chasing the elusive ‘balance’ we so crave, could spare some precious time I would encourage you to do some wondering too.