HeartEdge Mailer | April 2019
HeartEdge is an international ecumenical movement.
- We are churches and other organisations developing mission.
- We focus on 4 areas - commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion.
- Join us! Details here.
Each month we send you stories, web links, news related to our focus: commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion. Useful, inspiring, practical - HeartEdge is a resource.
In the middle of Holy Week, we're sending this on the morning UK GMT after the fire at Notre-Dam Cathedral in Paris. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's 'Thought for the Day' we thought HeartEdge friend Lucy Winkett of member church St James Piccadilly, perfectly captured the devastation and the hope of this event. Listen here.
- Encouraging kindness and action - plus responses to knife crime.
- Black and Minority Ethnic involvement in social enterprise, plus comfort zones and community shops.
- The Repair Café - and Mending Church with Laura Everett, plus James Cone and black power and Maggie Dawn on pilgrimage.
- Plus Sam Wells on a letter, a portrayal of salvation - and resurrection, from his new book - 'Face to Face'.
"A monthly smorgasbord of ideas,
focused around HeartEdge 4C's."
With a smile and a piece of cardboard Andrew Graystone went viral. “Maybe I could smile at people and be a bit friendly or something…" Following the New Zealand terrorist attack last month an excellent interview with Andrew. "I thought I’d made a thousand friends… One person gave me a biriyani… The only thing that overcomes fear is friendship…" Watch here.
"The future of the human race is now at stake..." We linked to Extinction Rebellion last month – how congregations are getting involved, joining in or offering space for campaigners. We missed Matt Stemp at William Temple Foundation writing on climate activism here, and Rowan Williams calling for a wide deep public support here.
"The story of that first Easter week speaks of Jesus entering into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday from the east, down the Mount of Olives, riding on a donkey, his followers and the people of the city lining the streets and laying Palm branches before him. At the same time, a Roman Garrison would have been marching into the same city from the west, mounted on their war horses, and laden with their weaponry, ready to ‘keep the peace’ in Passover Week. There is a deliberate choreography in this. Jesus was leading his own act of rebellion, his own non-violent act of peaceful resistance in the face of Empire..." More here.
“Human people are most alive when they are self-transcendent… When you come unstuck and you know there is something bigger…” popular Aussie preacher and biker, John Smith – who died in March – is here, speaking in 2010. Typically provocative, challenging - Smith on happiness here.
"The church continues to be committed to tackling knife and gun crime on our streets". The UK National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF), a voice representing black Christians in the UK, has produced a manifesto including helpful recommendations for churches, police and Government. It's here.
How-to, say thanks... NCVO have some ideas how to say 'thank you' to your supporters - here. And they have other 'how-to' worth checking!
"Always something useful, every month.
It's become essential for our team."
"We need more women from Black and Minority Ethnic or marginalised communities - we need to explain what we’re doing…” Social entrepreneur Dr. Pragya Agarwal is passionate about bringing those most marginalised to the table. Greats ideas, stories and listening here.
How do you get that social enterprise idea of the ground? These essential questions here - by Plunkett Foundation - will help you find the focus.
“If you’re an entrepreneur, you will need to step outside your comfort zone. From the moment you start your entrepreneurial journey you will face challenging tasks every day that you won’t be able to procrastinate about…” Good piece on “Why you’ll never do it later and how to get it done it now…” Be inspired and provoked here.
“Community shops become the hub of their community by virtue of their long hours, their usually central location, the fact that they are open to all the community and are able to host a wide range of services in addition to the sale of food and drink." Is your community interested in setting up a community shop? "As a result of the throughflow of customers, their volunteer base, membership meetings and task groups they stimulate social activity and help to create a sense of community.” More here.
No premises locally? How about a small, local shop in your church?Stories and tactics to help get started here,
Hereford Anglican Church Diocese have done lots of works on redeveloping your church building – it's all here.
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Repair Cafés are free meeting places, all about repairing things (together). “We throw away vast amounts of stuff. Even things with almost nothing wrong, and which could get a new lease on life after a simple repair…” Learn more here.
"Most of all, mending is spiritual practice." Writes HeartEdge friend Laura Everett. "Before any stitch is sewn or any patch prepared, I have to ask myself, “Is this thing in my hands worth repairing?” When I answer “yes,” mending is an act of devotion. "More here.
"The metaphors are rich and tactile." Laura began teaching mending - religious and nonreligious people have flocked to her 'Mending Church' workshops. "With patience, attention, skill, and community, we can learn to mend..." More here.
On Pilgrimage “…of all the examples available to us to follow, and of all the writers who have left a record of their own pilgrimage, none of them suggests that we should simply follow their instructions; each one has also left us a mandate to break with convention and reinvent pilgrimage just as they did.” More from Maggi Dawn here.
“… The concept of healing, and the concept of forgiveness is difficult." Ray Minniecon is an Aboriginal pastor with roots in the Kabikabi and Gurang-Gurang tribes of Queensland. He lives in Sydney supporting members of the Stolen Generations of Aboriginals. "If you fix the psyche and restore wellbeing through a process of reconnection and reconstruction of identity, then you have a platform for someone to deal with intergenerational pain and be a human being again. Only then can someone have an opportunity to receive or express forgiveness.” The 'Forgiveness Project' is full of astonishing stories like Ray's here.
“The artist is always shaking the foundation… that’s what theology should do…” Life and theology with James Cone speaking back in 2017 at Yale… It’s a treat! “Black power is the gospel of Jesus!" More here.
“Hints and hunches in the search for a good life…” Mealtime grace and the new ritual of connecting with each other - in this LifeLines podcast here. Have a listen - another 41 are along here.
An animation of the excellent 'An Ode to the Only Black Kid in the Class' by Clint Smith - on FaceBook - with Clint talking about it. Whatever your context - showing and talking about this will spark discussion - here.
We are about
catalysing Kingdom communities,
We focus on developing 4Cs:
Join in, here!
Cinema in church? HeartEdge members running cinema nights include Shoeburyness & Thorpe Bay Baptist Church here. We like this social enterprise model. Here's a case study from a community cinema in Scotland here.
Church cinema? Community cinema? How to start? The British Film Institute (BFI) have treaty ideas and resources... worth a look here.
"Digital technology is not only influencing the methods by which missions are carried out today, but the cultural shifts that it has given rise to demand fresh reflection on missiology." An event worth checking out… here.
"The value of the unsilenced – talking about our own work and discussion… Perhaps it’s time to rethink how we workshop. To make it less a test of endurance and more a space of open discussion. Perhaps it’s time to undo the silence of workshop, to let students be part of conversations about their work rather than mere witnesses..." Good insights for group facilitators here.
“It’s being restored…” Have this clip playing in the background as video wallpaper or watch and marvel – the restoration of an old master here. And here.
"While living in Kennington Road, Van Gogh attended Baptist services... walked to Spurgeon’s Tabernacle at the Elephant and Castle... preached his first sermon at the Wesleyan Methodist church in Isleworth... taught Sunday school and preached in Turnham Green." HeartEdge Jonathan Evens on Van Gogh in London here - as Van Gogh and Britain begins at Tate Britain running Until 11 August.
In Birmingham? It's the Passion Play now! All week - details here.
HeartEdge is a movement
focused on renewal and mission.
Join us here!
We're pleased to welcome new founding members:
- St Peter & St Paul Teddington - here
- St Peter’s & St Andrew’s Episcopal Church Providence Rhode Island - here
- The Riverside Church in New York City - here
- American International Church - here
HeartEdge members in Nottingham at St Peter's and All Saint's are recruiting a new Ministry Assistant for 2019-20. Details are here.
15 May 'Amsterdam HeartEdge Day' with Sam Wells, Sally Hitchiner and guests - a programme of theological reflection and local contributors. HeartEdge days focus around our HeartEdge 4 Cs. Practical and useful with a cross cultural emphasis - to book, email Tim here for details.
11 June 'Newcastle HeartEdge Day' with Sam Wells and guests. A unique programme of theological reflection and local contributors. HeartEdge days focus around our HeartEdge 4 Cs with an emphasis on practical insight and ideas to take away. Book in here.
27 June 'Derby HeartEdge Day' with Sam Wells and guests - working across Derby and the surrounding area? Urban, suburban or rural? We would love you to join this practical one-day intensive introduction to HeartEdge with Sam Wells and guests. We're ecumenical and open to all. The day will explore approaches to mission, do theology, develop ideas and help build on the community of practice in Derby. Book in here.
2 - 3 October, Edinburgh. The HeartEdge annual conference: 'On Earth as it is in Heaven' - a practical, two-day intensive of ideas, theology and connecting. Includes workshops on enterprise and commerce, launching cultural projects, developing congregations and sustaining community response. This year contributors include Sam Wells, Cormac Russell and Winnie Varghese. To book in early-bird visit here.
Last Word: Salvation... and Resurrection!
Imagine, writes Sam Wells, you were reaching a critical moment in your life and you had the opportunity to write a letter to someone you didn’t know, had perhaps never met, but whose life, you had come to realise, was like a jigsaw for which you held the missing piece, like a riddle that only you could unravel.
Think about how you’d start that letter. I guess you’d say, ‘You don’t know me, but I’ve got something important to tell you.’ But then you’d need a way to summarise fairly succinctly why you were writing the letter. Maybe you’d just say, ‘I wish I could meet you, and we could be friends. That may not be possible, so I’m going to tell you something that will bind us together. And telling you is going to make me very happy.’
Here’s a letter written by a man when he realised he had one letter he needed to write. He didn’t write it to teach a lesson or make a joke or save anyone’s soul. He wrote it to restore a relationship and make his joy complete. This is how it went.
Everyone has a story. I want to tell you mine. I grew up near your church. I used to play nearby with my friend Peter. I remember your church being built. It was 1978 and we were both 12 years old. Peter and I both had strict fathers, both of them recently retired from the Navy. We were both bullied incessantly at school. Peter’s father used to beat him with a belt. My dad wasn’t so cruel, but he would bark orders at me and expect perfection. Peter and I used to escape by sneaking out of school, and often slipping out of the house at night and getting in trouble, sometimes being brought home by the police. School was misery, and home was often worse.
One night we cycled up to the new church. The door was open, but no one was there. We were curious so we wandered in. We were just turning to leave when something inside me snapped. Every ounce of my anger, fear and frustration leapt out, and I started to wreck the church. Everyone else had turned against me, so I thought I’d see what God was made of. I can’t recall what we destroyed, but I know the church was closed for a month afterwards.
Peter and I knew we’d gone too far, and we swore each other to secrecy. The next morning the news was all over the local paper. And at 11pm that night the police came to our door and put handcuffs on me, and threw me in the back seat of their car next to Peter. I felt my life would never be the same. I was circling the drain, waiting to be pulled under. I was so lost.
The police brought me home next day. I was expecting the beating of my life. But I walked in and found my father holding the newspaper clipping, surrounded by ashtrays, his face puffy from having wept all night. His face was a mask of pain I’d never seen before. I wanted him to be angry – it would’ve been easier. I walked towards him and choked out a question: ‘Can you give me another chance, Dad?’ I suddenly saw he was as lost as me. ‘I’ll give you all the chances you need.’
Peter and I were given the option to pay the restitution in full or pay half. Peter’s father paid in full and moved away and I’ve never seen Peter again. My dad paid half and I made up the rest in labour. A few days later my dad took me to see the pastor. We met in his office, which was the only room undamaged by our attack. The pastor didn’t say anything. He just looked me in the face and shook my hand. And then I started crying twelve years’ worth of tears. And my father did too. The pastor said, I forgive you, but I'm going to ask you to do do the hardest thing you’ve ever done. I want you to learn this short passage of the Bible by heart and come back on Sunday and recite it to the whole congregation.’
I had no choice. I practised every day in front of my dad. And on the Sunday I stood up and said to everyone, ‘The Lord is my shepherd. He restoreth my soul. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.’
I changed. And so did my dad. He stopped demanding, ordering, threatening and yelling. He became someone I could talk to, laugh with, and lean on. He had walked with me shoulder to shoulder through a fire of my own making. I still felt anger and bitterness, but I didn’t hold it in anymore: I talked it through with my dad.
My dad died in 2014. He never threw away the news clipping. He kept it in his wallet. We rarely talked about it, but when we did, he would call it ‘the blessing in disguise.’
I believe the Lord did lead me like a shepherd. He opened the door of his house to me when he knew I was in pain. As I look back now it’s so painfully clear. I realise that I could never have done damage to his church. His church is made entirely out of love.
This letter isn’t saying, ‘Hey, I’ve made my mistakes in life but I learnt from them and I’ve gone on to be a fine upstanding citizen who’s given back to my community a hundredfold for what I got wrong.’ It’s saying something different. It’s saying, ‘I was a stranger to God and my father was my enemy. And through what seemed to be my disastrous loss of control, I met God and I for the first time found a relationship with my father. And once I’d heard and seen and touched those things, I knew that they were the most important things in my life. And it wasn’t hard to see how without them I’d been utterly lost. And now I want to take what I’ve learned from those two kinds of restoration, and I want to make a relationship with the new pastor of that little church, and maybe with the congregation, only a handful of whom could possibly remember the damage I did. I’ve discovered the most wonderful thing of all: a new future that’s made out of the healing of the past. And I’m so excited about it that I can’t help talking about it.’
There’s only one sad thing about the story that letter tells. It’s that Peter, the 12-year-old boy with the same anger, the same estrangement from his father, and the same predicament, never got to live the rest of the story – never got to share the joy. For all we know the moment of madness in the church just became for him another episode in a cycle of violence, isolation and misery. And that’s what makes this letter more than just a story of something bad that became something good. Because this letter is a portrayal of salvation.
Salvation isn’t an escape from a scary place to a safe place, a rescue that scoops the righteous out of a vale of tears. Salvation is the moment when you realise that, in spite of the pain and the regret and the hurt, you’ve been drawn into companionship with the one who was your enemy, and you’ve emerged from enmity with God into a relationship of grace and peace and joy. And we have a name for that a process and its cosmic significance – a name for the transformation described in the letter to the pastor. We call it resurrection.
Sam Wells is a preacher, pastor, writer, broadcaster and theologian. His latest book 'Face to Face - Meeting Christ in Friend and Stranger' is out in May and available here. He is the vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields.
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