Connectedness through God’s Love & Laughter
In recent days various friends and clergy colleagues have been communicating with us. This resurgence of communication is based on our human desire to love, care and hope for the wellbeing of all… and in the process to have fun.
Baya Voce, in her TEDx talk titled “The Simple Cure for Loneliness” said and I quote: “Loneliness is an emotional state that we have when we’re feeling disconnected. But our need for connection is ingrained in our DNA…”
She suggests that as human being we need to develop ‘an anchor of connection’ by simply spending quality time with people who see, hear and value you and enjoy a good laugh. For some this connectedness is expressed through sharing time together on meals, for others it is simply spending more time nurturing relationship through humour and for others it is through prayer and celebration.
As a Parish we have been connecting with our local community and worshipping community through prayers and celebration in this past month.
Our annual parish community family fun day was made possible only due to the generous volunteering of time and energy by many members of the parish. Thank you each one of you (you know who you are) for coming, helping and supporting through presence and prayers.
All this enormous effort of sharing the audacious love of God through unconditional welcome and generous hospitality made this day a great success. Someone who attended the fun day wrote to us: “It was a tremendous day…and lovely to see so many young children and families enjoying… and a vicar in the stocks getting Christened by the children & Churchwarden.”
This made me think, that many Christians still have a hard time imagining Jesus as someone who laughed and who had—God forbid—fun. But he surely did. Anyone who told clever stories and amusing parables must have had a sense of humour. But why don’t we see this more in the Bible? Why isn’t Jesus seen as a funny teacher?
The Hasidic Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in the 18th Century wrote: “Joy is not incidental to the spiritual quest. It is vital.”
Holy Humour is a tool for humility. The other day someone told Daniel, “seeing you celebrate communion is like seeing Jesus celebrate communion.” Daniel didn’t ask that person when was the last time this person saw Jesus celebrating communion was? However, Self-deprecatory jokes remind us not to take ourselves so seriously.
Holy Humour speaks truth to power. A witty remark is a time-honoured way to challenge the pompous and the powerful. The mother of a friend of mine, for example, was once in the hospital at the same time as a local bishop, who was recovering from some minor surgery. The bishop took it on himself to go from room to room and visit all the patients. He came into my friend’s mother’s room and said to her, “Well, dear I know just how you feel.” And she said, “Really? When was your last hysterectomy?” Later they became friends and, years later, he shared the Funeral service celebrating her life, where he told that joke about himself. He learned not to take himself with deadly seriousness.
Finally, joy is an important part of our relationship with God. One of the best ways of thinking about our relationship to God is as a friendship. Like any friendship, for example, it requires time. What kind of friend would you be if you never spent any time one-on-one with your friend? That’s what prayer is: one-on-one time with God.
Being in relation also requires you to listen—to feel God’s presence in your daily life, by coming to church and in prayer. It requires you to be willing to deal with rocky times, when you feel that your friend isn’t there for you as much as you’d like. All the things you can say about a good friendship you can say about prayer and communion.
In the parish life we are in process of planning for our First Youth/contemporary service on 1stSunday, 4.30pm in Langley room in Church Centre. Please come and support the young people from our parish.
We are also planning to run our first Alpha Course in September 2018. This is a lovely way of exploring questions of faith one evening a week, over a period of 9 weeks (with half term break in the end of October). The beauty of Alpha is that we do not have any pat answers, but we all as the family of God listen, learn, celebrate each other’s company, discuss, enjoy hot meals and have fun. Next months article will tell you more about this, with clear dates.
Also, we are in process of recruiting a cook/kitchen manager to manage our Hope for Sutton Project’s Catering provisions. This appointment is covered through the grants. The Launch of ‘Hope for Sutton Project’ will be taking place on Thursday morning 20th September 2018. Bishop David has confirmed his attendance.
Please let Church Office know, if you would like to attend this launch event. As part of the preparing of the Launch two Short Videos will be short in the parish in the beginning of the month reflecting on our work around isolation, loneliness, and Dementia.
This Summer, we are also working towards a Heritage Lottery Funds Bid for the Church Redevelopment Project, this summer, so please remember Project working group and both Daniel and Judith in your prayers.
Connectedness with community brings awareness of our shared humanity and the need to work together to eliminate isolation and loneliness. This connectedness is based on the principles of divine love and dignity for all. Hence every place of Hope and Love becomes a sacred space and we find God active through intergenerational work of developing interconnectedness.
We can see this pattern of interconnectedness, community within community in our care homes and sheltered living centres, schools, shopping centres, parks, libraries, event centres and when we meet others in their own homes.
Few years back we wrote about Monastic space, where the writer thought we could learn a lot from the way monasteries are set.
Briefly seven spaces within the main space, would be
Cell – where the monks met privately with God
Chapel – for shared worship space
Chapter – where community discussions take place (humility and listening being a key element)
Library – gaining knowledge
Garden – where we can connect with nature and God
Refectory – to enjoy eating the fruits of our labour and sharing the meal with others
Cloister – a connecting Hut
All of these elements can be found within our home and our outdoor spaces where roads and pathways connect each people and place. Each place is important and becomes sacred, it is a good way to divide life into such elements in a way that the roads start to connect us to each other.
To all who get to read this article or blog you are warmly invited to join us in our sacred space, and events which take place in our church rooms, whether for Memory café (on Monday & Thursday) to play dominos or to enjoy hot cooked meal in Hope Café (Thursday) or to reflect on God’s love in worship space (Wednesday or Sunday). We would love to be in touch with all of you.
To our church members if you take this newsletter why not start a reading chain passing it on to your friends and neighbours? I pray that all of you are able to find breathing space this summer and a space filled with God’s presence and connectedness and not isolation. That is God’s gift to you bestowed in the very act of creation that you enjoy “a Sabbath rest” or ‘God’s embrace in humour and joy’.
“The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it
the ends of the Earth and they that do well then therein”
With Much love,
Daniel and Judith Ramble