Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Five - Taste

Tuesday – Home

How do you eat in your house? At the table? In front of the TV? Talking? In silence? What are meals like? Are they happy occasions or battlegrounds?

What is your relationship to the food you eat? Are you trying to lose weight, or gain it? Do you feel you eat healthily or not? Why do you feel as you do about food? Do you need to make some changes, if so, what are you going to do about it?

Do you say grace before meals? If not, consider at least taking a moment before you eat to give thanks silently. Try to be aware of the taste of the food you eat today.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Five - Taste

Monday – Nature

All our food ultimately comes from the world around us, however much it is processed on the way from field to plate.

·         Take a walk or sit outside. What can you see  that is, or will be, edible? Pray for those who produce our food.

·         Can you see any other creatures feeding as you walk or sit outside? Birds, insects, worms, slugs? 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Four - Touch

Weekend – In the church

Spend some time in church over the weekend, either at a service or on your own.

·         What can you find in the church which feels good to touch – maybe there is a statue or carving which is good to run your fingers over?
·         What does the church feel like physically? What textures and shapes are there?
·         What does it feel like to sit, to stand and to kneel, if you are able, in the church? How does our posture affect the way we feel and pray?
·         If you have come to church for a service, what physical contact do you have with others there? How do you feel about sharing the Peace – do you love it, hate it, or find it difficult but important to do? 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Four - Touch

Friday – In the Bible          Read Rev 21.1-4

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them; 
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’

“I will wipe every tear from their eyes”.

Imagine this scene. You can’t wipe tears from someone’s eyes without touching them.

·         Imagine God wiping tears from your eyes.

·         What does it feel like to be touched by God like this?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Four - Touch

Thursday – In the news

·         As you watch/listen to/read the news today think about the physical sensations those in the news are experiencing. Are the people you see in pain, cold , wet or hungry, or are they pampered and comfortable ?

·         Are there people in the news who have been touched in ways that have hurt them?

·         Are there people who have helped or comforted others?

·         Pray for those you see.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Four - Touch

Wednesday – Others

·         Who touches you and who are you touched by in your daily life?
·         Are you a “touchy-feely” person, or do you prefer not to be touched too much? Why do you think you feel the way you do about touch?
·         Be aware today of those you touch and those who touch you. How do you feel about their touch – is it welcome or unwelcome. If no one does, is this a problem for you?
·         How do others know whether you welcome touch or not? How do you know whether they welcome touch or not?

Stop Press : there's a really interesting article on touch here.
No hugging: are we living through a crisis of touch?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Four - Touch

Tuesday – Home

·         Do you consider your home to be comfortable? What makes a home comfortable?

·         Are there any parts of it that don’t feel comfortable? What can you do about that?

·         Do you have anything in your home which you treasure mainly because of its texture?

·         If you have been creating a prayer or reflective space, is there something you can put here which would be good to hold?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Four - Touch

Monday – Nature

Go for a walk or spend some time outdoors. 

How many different textures can you find in the world around you? Is there something whose texture you like which you  can bring home from your walk ? ( a stone, a leaf, a seedhead…?)

What does the ground feel like under your feet? Can you tell what kind of surface you are standing on just by feel?

Is it warm or cold, windy or still? Be aware of the sensations on your skin as you stand or walk.

Give thanks for what you feel.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mothering Sunday at Seal

We had a good crowd for Mothering Sunday today, and talked about some of the worries we have for our children, and the worries that the children have for themselves. It's not just parents who worry about their children, but also grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, friends... we can all think of children whose futures we care about.

We thought about the story of the children who were brought to Jesus by their parents, parents who
Nicolaes Maes Christ blessing the Children 1652-53
were worried about them. They lived in a land which was occupied by the Romans, where there was no modern medicine, and no welfare state, so they had even more to worry about than we do. They recognised that the most important thing they needed to do was to bring their children to Jesus for him to bless and pray for them.

Despite all the advances there have been, which help to keep our children safe, we still can't protect them from everything, and there are new worries now that didn't exist then - climate change, the challenges of technology and so on. No one has a magic wand to take all our worries for the future of our children away, but there are ways we can help them to be resilient and joyful no matter what happens. Helping them to be aware of the presence of God is part of this. In the Old Testament reading we heard today  we heard about ways in which the Israelites were told they could help to remind their children of God's love for them, day by day.

I gave out a leaflet with some ideas for nurturing faith with children at the end of the service. It is here if you'd like a copy. 
I also gave out a bookmark with a link to the suggestions from Faith5  - a simple way of praying with children.

After Communion the choir sang "Day by Day" by Martin How, based on a prayer of St Richard of Chichester. You can listen to our recording of it here. 

Day by day, O Lord of thee three things I pray;
to see thee more clearly
love thee more dearly 
follow thee more nearly
day by day.  

We lit candles for mothers, carers and children, whether they were still with us or not, and for those who wanted to be mothers but hadn't been able to have children.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Come and join us for Mothering Sunday tomorrow.

Coming to our senses - Week Three - Smell

Weekend – In the church

Spend some time in church over the weekend, either at a service or on your own.  Churches often have a distinctive smell. Some might smell of incense or candles. Others might smell of damp or furniture polish or flowers.

·         What does the church you are in smell of?
·         How do you feel about using incense in worship? The smoke is meant to remind us of our prayers ascending to heaven?
·         Why do you like or not like it?
·         Scented “oil of chrism” is used at baptisms, the same oil as is used at coronations and ordinations, times when people are given new jobs to do. The smell of the oil is supposed to remind them, and others who smell it, of the ministry they will have spreading out into the world. What impact do you think your life has on those around you? 

Friday, March 09, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Three - Smell

Friday – In the Bible Read Genesis 27.1-29

Jacob has tricked his twin brother Esau out of the blessing which is his birthright as the marginally older son. (See Gen 25.29- 34). As Isaac lies dying, Jacob, egged on by his mother, pretends to be Esau and asks his father to bless him. Isaac, who is blind by this stage, is not sure whether it really is Esau until he smells the goatskin which Jacob has put on (Esau, a hunter, and obviously usually smelled pretty ripe!) This is what convinces Isaac. Jacob gets the blessing instead of Esau, a deceit which leads to all sorts of trouble in the future.

When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, ‘My son’; and he answered, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘See, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. Then prepare for me savoury food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die.’

 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, ‘I heard your father say to your brother Esau, “Bring me game, and prepare for me savoury food to eat, that I may bless you before the Lord before I die.” Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you. Go to the flock, and get me two choice kids, so that I may prepare from them savoury food for your father, such as he likes; and you shall take it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.’ But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, ‘Look, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a man of smooth skin. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him, and bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.’ His mother said to him, ‘Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my word, and go, get them for me.’ So he went and got them and brought them to his mother; and his mother prepared savoury food, such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she handed the savoury food, and the bread that she had prepared, to her son Jacob.

 So he went in to his father, and said, ‘My father’; and he said, ‘Here I am; who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.’ But Isaac said to his son, ‘How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?’ He answered, ‘Because the Lord your God granted me success.’ Then Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.’ So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, ‘The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.’ He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. He said, ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ He answered, ‘I am.’ Then he said, ‘Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.’ So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come near and kiss me, my son.’ So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said,
‘Ah, the smell of my son
   is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.
May God give you of the dew of heaven,
   and of the fatness of the earth,
   and plenty of grain and wine.
Let peoples serve you,
   and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
   and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
   and blessed be everyone who blesses you!’

·         Imagine yourself in this story. Are you one of the main characters, or standing on the sidelines watching? What do you do?
·         Have you ever been deceived badly, or deceived someone else badly. How did it feel?
Have you ever thought that something smelled “fishy”, but haven’t immediately been able to prove it? 

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Three - Smell

Thursday – In the news

No one has yet invented “smellyvision”, as far as I know, so we can only use our imagination as we think about smell and the news!

·         As you read/ watch the news today, imagine what those in it are smelling – the smell of explosives, of fire, of sickness, of poverty, perhaps.
·         Are there times when you have been unable to escape a stench which you hate?
·         Pray for those who have to live or work in smelly places, like those who eke out a living on and around rubbish dumps.
·         We pray “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” – what do you think heaven smells like, and how can we make earth smell like that? 

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Three - Smell

Wednesday – Others

People smell different from one another. After a bereavement it is very common for people to want to hold or sleep with an item of clothing that their loved one wore, and babies who need to be cared for in incubators are sometimes given blankets which their mothers have worn next to their skin because the familiar smell soothes them.

·         Could you recognise friends or family members by their smell? (Don’t go and sniff at them to see – they may take offence!)
·         Are there perfumes or specific smells which remind you of people you have known in the past –a perfume, or a smell associated with their work, perhaps?

·         Homelessness, poverty or illness may make it difficult for people to keep themselves clean. Pray for those who feel stigmatised or shunned because of their smell. What might help them? 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Three - Smell

Tuesday – Home

·         What does your home smell like? Do you like its smell?
·         Are there particular smells which say “home” to you?
·         Do you use air fresheners, and scented cleaning products or do you prefer not to?
·         How sensitive are you to the smell of your home, or do you not notice it?

·         If you have identified a “prayer place” in your home (see Tuesday week one) could you add a scented candle to it, or arrange some scented plant or cut flowers to it?  

Monday, March 05, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Three - Smell

Monday - In Nature

Go for a walk around your neighbourhood or sit somewhere quietly.

·         What does it smell like where you are?
·         If you are walking around, do the smells give you a clue as to where you are? Could you create a “smell map” of the area? (For example, Tyrell’s fencing company in Seal smells wonderfully of wood as you walk past!) Pray for the places you pass.
·         Do the smells around you tell you anything about the time of day or season of the year?
·         What smells do you look forward to during the year?

·         If you were (or are) unable to smell, what impact might that have on your daily life? 

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Two - Hearing

Weekend – In the church

Spend some time in church over the weekend, either at a service or on your own.

·         What does the church sound like? (Even the silence in an empty church often has a distinctive sound!)
·         If you are in a service of worship, what sounds do you hear that tell you that this is a special occasion in a special place – music, words that you wouldn’t hear in other settings, bells etc. How do these things help you to listen for the voice of God? If you are in church on your own, how is the church building helping you to be still and listen to God?
·         If you are in a service, be aware of those around you, singing, speaking, chatting before and after the service, children playing. Give thanks for them.
·         Are there noises which distract you and make it harder to listen? 

Friday, March 02, 2018

Snowy weather update!

Dear all

A couple of bits of news related to the weather!

The trip to the National Gallery, due to take place tomorrow, has been postponed. Apart from the problems some of those going would have had getting to the station, the trains are also rather uncertain, with services being cancelled or delayed, so it seemed wise for us to put this trip off. It will be rescheduled for later in the month, either on 10th, 17th or 24th March - date to be decided by this Sunday. If you couldn't come this Saturday, you might be able to sign up for the new date, so keep your eyes open for it, and let me know if you'd like to come. 

The other news is that we are having problems with the church heating, (long story, but not any fault of ours! We hope it will be fixed early next week)  so we will hold our 10 am service in the CHURCH HALL this Sunday. That way we can be sure of being warm and comfortable - there are also toilets and a kitchen on hand, so it will be easier all round! Fortunately, God is everywhere, and will have no trouble finding us in the church hall, so I am sure our worship will be as uplifting as it normally is , even if it is a little different! Perhaps it is fortunate that the baptism which had been scheduled for Sunday has been postponed (the weather again!), so it will be our normal service of Holy Communion. There will also be Sunday School in the vicarage, as usual on the first Sunday of the month. If you have a child who would like to come along to Sunday School, Babs will be in the vicarage from about 9.50am to welcome them. They always have a lovely time, and newcomers are welcome. Parents are welcome to stay with them, or to leave them if they are of school age. Babs and her team will bring them to join the rest of the congregation part way through the service.

Our evening service of Compline will also take place in the hall at 6.30pm. 

Please pass on this news to anyone you know who doesn't "do" email and might need to know. I will obviously put up signs on the church gates on Sunday re-directing people to the hall. 

Like the rest of you, I expect, I am looking forward to things getting back to something passing for "normal", but in the meantime, I hope you are managing to stay warm and safe, and enjoying the beauty and fun of the snow if you can. I would also like to put on record my great gratitude both to Philip, who has been labouring faithfully to keep the church path clear of snow and ice, and to Gesiena, who has been working tirelessly to  deal with the heating problems. 

Coming to our senses - Week Two - Hearing

Friday – In the Bible          Read Mark 9.2-8

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

Jesus takes his closest disciples up a mountain with him. While they are there they see him transfigured, shining with the glory of God. Moses and Elijah appear and talk with him. The disciples don’t know what to say, and instead of saying nothing, Peter jumps in with his offer to build three dwellings for them. (Why? Perhaps because it is the first thing that comes into his head!) After Moses and Elijah disappear, a voice from heaven says “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!”

Imagine yourself in this scene as one of Jesus’ disciples.
·         How far from Jesus are you?
·         How do you feel as the story unfolds? What are Jesus, Moses and Elijah talking about? ?
·         What does God’s voice sound like? What is his tone of voice when he tells you to “listen to him”?

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Two - Hearing

Thursday – In the News

Watch or listen to the news today.
  • Whose voices seem loudest in the stories you hear?
  • Whose voices seem to be missing, and why is this? Who are we not hearing? (for example is a disproportionate amount of time spent on those who have power rather than those who do not?
  • Be alert to any stories which might have an impact on someone who is deaf or hard of hearing (about 1 in 6 of the UK population has some sort of hearing loss - http://bit.ly/2cgwYZO)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sledgers welcome!

If you are coming sledging in the field behind the church, drop into church for a warm drink afterwards. Help yourself if there is no one there. Drinks are free, but donations to Porchlight  welcome.
The toilets in the church hall will be open all day today (Wednesday) in case you need them too. 

CHILDREN'S CHOIR will be on this afternoon at 5pm in the church hall for any who can safely get there. If you've got children at home who are fed up and need a bit of company and a good sing, bring them along - you don't have to have come before.

Coming to our senses - Week Two - Hearing

Wednesday – Other people

How often do we really listen to other people?

·         Try to be more aware today of those who are talking to you. Try to listen without interrupting, or thinking of what you will say next.

·         Those who suffer from hearing loss often find themselves isolated and left out of conversations. Are you hearing-impaired , or do you know someone who is? What might help them (or yourself) to feel more included in day to day life?

·         At the end of the day, think back through the conversations you have had. Where might you have heard God’s voice today?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Two - Hearing

Tuesday – Home

Sit in your home 
  • ·         What does it sound like? Is it noisy or quiet? Which do you prefer?
  •  ·         How does the sound of your home change through the day?
  •  ·         How has the sound of your home changed through the years, perhaps as people have shared your home or left home?
  •  ·         What sounds make you feel “at home”?
  • ·         Are there sounds you hear in your house which sadden or worry you, perhaps in the things people say or the way they say them? 
  • How and where might you listen for the voice of God in your home? What might God be saying to you about it?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week Two - Hearing

Monday – Nature

As last week, go for a walk or sit outside.

·         What can you hear?

·         What can you tell about the place you are in and the time you are listening by the sounds you hear?

·         Sound is transient. Until the advent of sound recording, which is very recent, once a sound had been made it was gone forever. What are you glad to have heard today which you might have missed if you hadn’t been listening? Give thanks for it.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Contemplating art at the National Gallery

There is still space on the list for our Lent trips to the National Gallery to look contemplatively at some works of art there. Saturday March 3 or Wednesday March 7, meeting at Sevenoaks Station to leave on the 9.59 train on both days. We'll be finished by about 1- 1.30pm, and then you can either go straight back on the train or stay in London for lunch, or paint the town red, if you have the energy!

I've really enjoyed preparing these sessions, and I know, from our previous Lent trips to the British Museum and V&A that it will be  great fun to explore and learn together. Numbers are limited to 15 on each trip, so let me know as soon as possible if you'd like to join us. There's plenty of space left for Saturday, but just a few places left on Wednesday. The trip's open to anyone who wants to come - and you don't need to be an art expert to enjoy it! There's no charge  - you just have to pay for your own rail ticket to get there.
Let me know if you'd like to join us.

Coming to our senses - Week One - Sight

Weekend – In the Church

Spend some time in church over the weekend, either at a service or on your own.

·         Look around you. What can you see that helps you focus on God? 
·         What are the visual elements of the church which make it special and different from any other building you use?
·         If the church is familiar to you, are there parts of it you haven’t really looked at? Explore a bit and see what is there.
·         If you usually sit in the same place, try sitting somewhere else (radical suggestion!). How does it change your experience of worship?
·         Are there things you see in church which distract you from worship or sadden you? 

Here are some links to handouts to help you explore Seal Church. 
Printed versions are available in church

Holy Ground - a prayer walk around Seal Church

Remember Me - a prayer walk around the memorials in Seal Church.

Church Trail

Children's Church Trail

Friday, February 23, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week One - Sight

Friday – In the Bible          Read Luke 19.1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’

Imagine yourself in this story. Perhaps you are Zaccheus, who longed to “see who Jesus was” but, being small, had to climb a tree to see over the heads of the crowd. Perhaps you are one of the crowd, who have always “seen” Zaccheus as a traitor and a thief, since he is a tax collector who collaborated with the Romans. Perhaps you are one of the disciples watching as Jesus “sees” Zaccheus as precious and beloved, someone who God cares about.

·         Visualise the scene. Try to see it in your imagination as vividly as you can. What can you see to your left and right, straight ahead of you? What is the weather like? Where are you standing?
·         Let the story unfold in your imagination. What does Jesus say and do? How do others respond?

·         What does it feel like to be part of this story?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Coming to our senses - Week One - Sight

Thursday – In the News

Watch the news, or be aware of the news photos in the paper or on the internet.

  • Which images catch your attention? Why?
  • Which images stick in your mind?
  • If you were one of the people in the images you see, what would the world look like to you? What would be the sights you would see in your daily life?