Exploring Forgiveness

Maybe you’re new or have been coming to church for years but are unsure about some of the things we do? Or you’re wondering about how it all relates to our Christian faith?

This session considers the continuing relevance of confession, absolution, wholeness  & reconciliation.

This is the last of six sessions under the title Exploring Our Faith which offer an opportunity for us to learn more together. There will be a mixture of teaching and discussion led by the clergy and ministry team of the Haldon Mission Community in Devon. All are welcome.

Download this leaflet for more details and a booking form.

Exploring the Church

Maybe you’re new or have been coming to church for years but are unsure about some of the things we do? Or you’re wondering about how it all relates to our Christian faith?

In this session we consider  the purpose of the church? Buildings & robes. Mission & maintenance. Choirs & congregations.

This is the fifth of six sessions under the title Exploring Our Faith which offer an opportunity for us to learn more together. There will be a mixture of teaching and discussion led by the clergy and ministry team of the Haldon Mission Community in Devon. All are welcome.

Download this leaflet for more details and a booking form.

Exploring Ceremonies

Maybe you’re new or have been coming to church for years but are unsure about some of the things we do? Or you’re wondering about how it all relates to our Christian faith?

In this session we consider the importance and meanings of baptism, confirmation, marriage, funerals & ordination.

This is the fourth of six sessions under the title Exploring Our Faith which offer an opportunity for us to learn more together. There will be a mixture of teaching and discussion led by the clergy and ministry team of the Haldon Mission Community in Devon. All are welcome.

Download this leaflet for more details and a booking form.

Exploring the Bible

Maybe you’re new or have been coming to church for years but are unsure about some of the things we do? Or you’re wondering about how it all relates to our Christian faith?

In this session we ask why do we have the Bible? Where did it come from? What about reading the Bible at home?

This is the third of six sessions under the title Exploring Our Faith which offer an opportunity for us to learn more together. There will be a mixture of teaching and discussion led by the clergy and ministry team of the Haldon Mission Community in Devon. All are welcome.

Download this leaflet for more details and a booking form.

Plan B

Malvern. Nestling in the foot of the hills that bear its name, the town hasMalvern been a place of holiday and sanctuary on many occasions. And this time was no different.

As we drove up the M5, the Malvern Hills waved at us from between the passing trees, giving greetings as if to long lost friends as we approached. We’d booked an apartment in one of the large, old houses that populate the centre of the town. The website photos painted a place of light and comfort. Four nights away. A time for rest and relaxation… or so we thought.

Having struggled to effect entry, we found ourselves in a dark, cramped living room. The most spacious thing was the high ceiling. The bedroom wasn’t much better: barely six inches on one side of the bed, less than twelve on the other. A lesson in how photos are manipulated to provide an attractive proposition.

The Devil knows how best to attack, of course. He knew we’d come to a place we loved and enjoyed. He often attacks after spiritually blessed times too (I’d just completed the first weekend as a Chaplain). He made use of the fact we’d made a mistake and compounded it with reminders of experiences I’d had many, many years ago. ‘Got you, this time,’ he said. ‘Do you remember how scared you were when you were so ill? All those times of anxiety when away from home?’ The shadows of the distant past had come on holiday with me it seemed.

Grateful for good weather, we spent as little time indoors as we could. A day each wandering around Malvern with its Priory, park and shops and then nearby Worcester with its beautiful Cathedral, river and, previously unbeknown to us, canal and locks all bringing some sense of what we do best on holiday. Add to that a trip to the theatre – our first for over 18 months.

But we knew we needed a Plan B. One that could be implemented before things got worse. One built on the lessons of the past. (Umm… where have I heard that before…)

Plan Bs are often seen as second best, aren’t they? A sign of failure. A few years ago, a well-known retail store ran the supposedly strong and powerful strapline, ‘There is no Plan B’… and how everyone watched the subsequent decline. As a country, perhaps we face the same calamity…

You may have found yourself in similar positions. Not necessarily a holiday that didn’t work out but maybe other times where the Devil attacked even if you didn’t credit it as such. Times when your Achilles’ heel was touched. Times when your weaknesses were exploited. Times when you needed a Plan B.

So, Plan B. Time to go home. A day early.

But not before going up to the Hills.

Not before three hours of living out the truth of the Psalmist’s words:

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and for evermore.    (Psalm 121:1-2, 7-8)

 

 

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Consciously incompetent

“I want you to hit the ground running,” spouts the manager to their shiny new recruit. “Of course, that’s absolutely fine,” comes the ‘I’ve got to impress’ reply.

Many people have been in such situations. Where the expectation outweighs the reality… on both sides. But hitting the ground running can result in falling over.

Getting settled in to anything new, particularly in a job, can often take months before one really begins to get to grips with everything (well, most things). Change can be a very difficult. We need time to adapt, time to learn. And not just the tasks (that can sometimes be the simple bit) but people’s names and idiosyncrasies, the way people behave towards each other, where things are, the demands, the actuality behind the job description etc etc… And other people need to allow time for that to happen – especially if they want them to be any good.

The same is true with any new stage of life, new location, new home or even new hobby, like learning to play the piano or to paint. It all takes time… and it’s important that it does so.

Often accredited to the American psychologist, Abraham Maslow (he of the ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ theory, if you’ve ever come across that), when we learn new things we progress through ‘Four Stages of Competence’:

  • Stage 1 – Unconscious incompetence – “I don’t know what I don’t know”
  • Stage 2 – Conscious incompetence – “I have no idea what this all means or how to do it”
  • Stage 3 – Conscious competence – “Some of this is beginning to make sense – and I can actually do bits of it!”
  • And ideally end at Stage 4 – Unconscious competence – “I’ve learnt what to do and I can do it ‘without thinking’”

So, for example, when it comes to learning to paint (and piano playing for that matter), I have taken up semi-permanent residence in Stage 2 with occasional forays in to the heady lands of Stage 3…

As humans, we have the, at times unenviable, task of residing in all four stages of competence at once… and that’s because we are all learners.

If you are a Twitterer, you may have seen some Tweets quoting from an excellent Lent book by Paula Gooder, a down-to-earth, easy-to-understand Biblical scholar and writer, and on the leadership team at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Writing in Let Me Go There, Paula Gooder reflects on the disciples and what they learnt in their time with Jesus: ‘The disciples that Jesus chose may not have been the ones we would have chosen, but they were the ones he chose… They demonstrated that they had done what disciples need to do – they had learned. Being a good disciple is not about being perfect from the outset, but is about being someone who can learn. Perfect I can’t do, learning I can.’

God knows that we are not perfect.

That’s the point of Good Friday and Easter.