Newsletter – May 13

Welcome to the April newsletter – by this time I had hoped to be surrounded by vigorous greenery and spring flowers, but it seems that winter is holding on grimly this year, and instead I am typing this with snow flurries blowing past my window. Nonetheless, it is the season of new life, the Easter season. For the fifty days from Easter to Pentecost, we are thinking of resurrection, new birth, and the chance to start afresh with God, no matter how cold our personal winter may have been. Good enough reason to celebrate whatever the weather!

In this edition:

Recent Events-

  • Easter Services
  • LGCM Conference

Ministry Highlight –

  • BSL Interpreter – Dee

Upcoming Events

  • Greenbelt
  • Social Event
  • Pride

Lay Delegate’s Column, and Letter from the Moderator

Regular Events

Reflection

Recent Events:

Seder Meal

On the Thursday before Easter, traditionally the time when Christians celebrate the Last Supper which Jesus shared with his followers, we continued our tradition of sharing the Seder meal, the Jewish Passover festival which Jesus would have celebrated with his friends and family.

Gathering at the church, we re-enacted the Passover liturgy of the symbolic Seder plate, telling the story of the Israelites’ rescue from slavery in Egypt. With songs, traditional questions and answers, the unleavened bread and the wine (or grape juice!) we followed the same story that Jesus would have done every year of his earthly life as a well-brought-up Jewish boy, and still further, saw how Jesus himself was the fulfilment of that Passover promise, the ultimate Paschal lamb and the final freedom from all slavery and oppression.

This reinterpretation is nothing new. When the Israelites wanted to remember and celebrate God’s wonderful love in freeing them and making them God’s own people, they chose the sheep-farmer’s seasonal festival of Pesach, and adapted it for their own needs. Jesus then gave his own fresh interpretation when he stood in for all Passover lambs, and told his followers to remember him this way – at the meal which has become for Christians the Communion meal.

So we are following a long-honoured tradition of God’s people when we rewrite it again for our community of MCC, making a feast and a joyful memorial to begin our Easter journey. And this year was no exception, with, as ever, Jen’s delicious catering, and plenty of singing and laughter too. Jesus, I think, would have felt right at home.

Good Friday Stations of the Cross-

On Good Friday, the mood became more sombre. Between the fellowship and enjoyment of their last meal together and that Friday evening, Jesus and his followers had experienced all the terror, pain and grief of his arrest, trial and execution. In the Stations of the Cross service, we walked with Jesus, following silently in his footsteps through each of the fourteen stations, from his condemnation to a criminal’s death by Pilate, to the laying of his body in a stranger’s borrowed tomb. As we did so, each thinking and praying at our own pace through these events of Jesus’ last hours, I was reminded that the disciples, too, were scattered apart at this moment. Alone or in little groups of two or three, not daring to speak out but simply watching and waiting, and weeping, silently.

And as someone there reminded me, looking at the footprints on the ground leading from station to station, the poem Footprints tells us how at the hardest and loneliest of times we are actually being carried by God; so, in a sense he carried us all when he carried that cross through Jerusalem’s streets, his own loneliest road. The least we can do in return is to walk it with him.

Exsultet Service and Easter Vigil

Of all the services in the year, the Exsultet service seems the most unique to me – perhaps because it is so unlike anything in my own background, with the Exsultet itself (beautifully sung by Graham again) and the blessing of all those gathered with the light of the Paschal candle, the Christ-light. But also because it falls within that odd time of waiting – between the tears of Good Friday and the joy of Easter, between death and resurrection. Leading on into the vigil, where we sit (more or less) awake through the night in front of a representation of Jesus’ tomb. A time-out, it seems, from the everyday, a night in which to patiently wait for God’s time, not moving toward or away from anything but simply being with God, together. As ever there were conversations ranging from the deeply philosophical to the special kind of silliness only available at 4am. We shared songs and stories and inspirations, until sunrise when we began our meal with communion and continued it with Rev Sharon’s excellent cooked breakfast, in itself a good reason for staying!

 

 

 

Easter Sunday

During our Easter Sunday celebrations, we welcomed two new members, Ian and Michael, who have already become valued members of our community, sharing their faith and gifts with us. It is always a joy as new people choose to make MCCNL their church home, and commit themselves to the life and work of this particular bit of God’s family.

As ever, Easter Sunday was a Spirit-filled celebration of the central fact of our faith: that for the love of us, God in Jesus sacrificed everything, but that no power on this earth or beyond was enough to keep the love of God down!

Alleluia! Christ is Risen.

 

 

 

LGCM Conference

This year’s annual conference of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement took place in Brighton on Friday 19th – Sunday 21st April.

The Bishop of Chichester the Rev Martin Warner attended and spoke – the first time a senior Anglican bishop has attended such an event – and his answers were refreshingly honest and open about the failings of the Church to listen to the voice of LGBT Christians, and also his commitment to do better. He stated that the LGCM mission of ‘challenging homophobia and creating an inclusive church’ was something with which he identified.

 

Ministry Highlight – BSL Interpreter, Dee

I began to learn sign language 24years ago, for personal reasons, as I am hard of hearing in one ear. I never expected that it would become my job, but the job just fell into my lap, and so I became an educational interpreter. Then about 8 years ago, I was attending a local church and someone who knew that I could sign asked if I would interpret .

I came along to MCC North London some time ago with a friend, and decided to stay and contribute as a BSL interpreter because there were deaf members of the congregation here. John and I both decided to become members, to show our solidarity with this community

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Events:

Social Event – Sadly, this month’s social event, the games night and meal advertised for 18th May, has had to be postponed. Watch this space for a revised date!

House Warming BBQ – Saturday 25th May from 3.00pm (food available from 5.00pm). Rev Sharon and Franka have recently moved house and have invited us all to celebrate and bless their new home. Please let Rev Sharon know if you are coming so she can give you the address. There will be plenty of food but please bring a bottle.

Greenbelt (August Bank Holiday weekend)

Once more we are planning to attend Greenbelt festival as a group – if you have not yet booked a place, regretfully the deadline for the ‘early bird’ reduced rate has now passed, but you can still book a place at the regular price, and come and camp with us. Greenbelt is a Christian festival with a difference – Rev Sharon does not exaggerate when she says that there is something for everyone, from contemporary worship to silent prayer to a Goth Eucharist; there are talks, discussion groups, music stages, workshops, stalls, craft activities and more. Not to mention a beer or two in the Jesus’ Arms before winding your way back to camp.

 

 

 

 

 

Pride

The date of London Pride has been moved slightly this year – the march will be on Saturday 29th June, and we will as ever be marching with Christians Together at Pride, as well as joining in with other events during the week.

As well as this, the joint Pride Service will be held in St Martins in the Fields on Saturday 6th July at 5.00pm (as this had already been booked in advance) and Rev Jeffery John will be preaching.

Please keep these dates in your diary to come along and help make LGBT Christians visible – too many groups and people still try to claim that we do not (or cannot) exist, and it is up to all of us to point out that they are mistaken! It is especially important to let the LGBT community know that God really does love them regardless of what other people may say and they do not have to choose between their faith and their sexuality and/or gender identity.

Besides marching, we will also have a stall, and a space set aside for LGBT Faith groups, for prayer and blessings. If you would like to help out on the stall or in the prayer tent then please let Rev. Sharon know as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lay Delegate’s Column – News from around the Fellowship by Tim Fellows

On 12 February, France’s National Assembly voted to allow same-gender couples the right to marry and adopt children.  MCC Montpellier worked with other LGBT organizations to help educate the public about this important issue.  Since December, they spent Saturdays handing out informational flyers to citizens and participating in two counter demonstrations to the “anti” side of the issue.  The last demonstration they attended had 6,000 people!

MCC Brighton (UK) is pleased to announce that Rev. Michael Hydes has been elected as Pastor and began officially on 1 March. Rev. Hydes undertook his clergy training in MCC North London.

Journey MCC (Birmingham, UK) would like to thank Rev. Chris Dowd for his service and welcome Rev. Stephen Bentley as their Interim Pastor.

Rev. Dwayne Morgan was installed as the new Pastor of MCC South London (UK) on 3 March.

For the month of February, members of Imago Dei MCC (Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, USA) collected loose change in red take-out boxes.  They collected a total of $433.25 USD for MCC’s “Be A Gem” campaign. Rev Janis Bowker (centre of picture) completed her clergy training in MCC North London.

The following letter was sent to us by the Moderator (Nancy Wilson) and Governing Board of UFMCC:

 

Regular Events:

Small Groups

At the moment there is one Small Group, meeting in Camden at the church. Small groups have been meeting on Wednesdays at 7:30pm, but it has become clear that many are not able to attend on a Wednesday, therefore we are considering alternative times. Please let Rev Sharon or Rev Jak know if you have suggestions for when would suit you better, if you wish to attend.

We do still very much need leaders and hosts so that we can once more offer groups for those who do not live within easy access of Camden. If you wish to know more about Small Groups, and also if you think you might be able to lead or host small groups in other parts of London, please contact Rev Sharon or Rev Jak.

 

Healing Prayer

Healing prayer is on offer every third Sunday in the month from 6.30 – 6.50 and again after service. The next will be the 19th May. If you feel the need for a healing touch for body, mind or spirit, prayer and also anointing with blessed oil are available, in the Nursery room (next door to the tea and coffee area)

 

Board Meeting

The next Board of Directors’ meeting is on Sunday May 19th at 3pm. Please note that members of MCCNL are welcome to observe these Board meetings, and that the minutes will be available on the notice board on the following Sundays.

Music Practice

The next music practice is on Saturday 15th June at Rev Sharon’s house. Please remember to let Ian know if there are any new songs you would particularly like us to learn, and give him the music if you can.

Also, please let Rev Sharon know if you are coming so that she knows how much food to provide for lunch! Sharon and Franka have moved house, so if you do not know how to get there, please ask Rev Sharon for directions!

 

 

Reflection (by Rev Sharon)

Where do we go from here?

On Easter Sunday my sermon title was ‘What Now?’ I wanted to look at how the events of the week leading up to Easter must have been so overwhelming and confusing and then to end with watching all their hopes die on the cross. The sense of ‘all is lost’, ‘all is over’, ‘nothing’s worth it anymore’ must have been enormous. It’s no wonder that we have stories of the disciples all gathering together in a locked room or wandering back to their home towns downcast and forlorn.

The fact is that we often feel like that as well and sometimes without the indisputable reason that the disciples had. We can feel crushed by the weight of simply living each day, everything seems too big to cope with, the weather seems to be cold and wet all the time, nothing goes right and ends with a good result, relationships falter and we retreat into ourselves and try to hide from the outside world. We have no energy for anything and so when people make their usual and reasonable requests we feel they are being unreasonable and demanding too much.

Our life in our church community is no exception to this.  We have times when people who have happily provided a ministry for months or years suddenly resign or struggle to keep going. This can feel and seem like a negative thing and yet another example of things falling apart but actually I think it’s a positive thing for several reasons.

Sometimes we let things drift past their ‘sell by date’ and this is a way to make us employ a change. It gives people a chance to rest or to try something new and to allow others to get involved in ministry. It’s a chance for renewal and an opportunity to refresh all we do.

Jesus knew very well the importance of having time out. There are many times we read how he went off alone to be with God and pray. We all need to recharge our batteries so that we have more to give. I have often shared the advice I was given by Bishop Gene Robinson long before I was ordained. At a breakfast meeting he said ‘If you don’t feed the shepherd he’ll eat the sheep!’

This is so true!  Of course, whilst the shepherd is taking care of their own needs someone else needs to look after the sheep.

So, where do we go from here?

We all need to open ourselves up to what God is calling us to do.  Maybe God is saying now is the time to rest or to do something different. Maybe, God is saying now is the time to step out in faith and offer yourself for ministry – and there are so many different ministries available : singing,  acolyting, welcoming , preaching, celebrating , playing an instrument, making the tea, praying, operating or creating powerpoint, setting up equipment, organising social events, fundraising, tweeting, and the list goes on and on. God has a ministry for everyone.

You don’t have to be a member of the church to get involved, you just have to be willing to follow where God leads.

The couple on the road to Emmaus could have stayed in Emmaus licking their wounds even though they had recognised Christ but they chose to return and get on with the work God had called them to – sharing the Good News of God’s love for all people – and that’s the task before MCCNL as well.

Are you ready, willing, and able to offer yourself to make that a reality?