The things you do on a wet Saturday afternoon…

William, Michaela and I set up a poetry/meditation walk in Morag’s Fairy Glen this afternoon- it will be up for the duration of Cowalfest- and is part of Aoradh’s contribution to the walking and arts festival.

It started out moist, and finished soaking wet.

Here we are, suffering for the Kingdom-

(Photos by William.)

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Aoradh worship event materials…

A few folk asked about the use we put to images and other materials from our GB worship event.

I have uploaded them to Google docs and so they should be available here-

I have included a script and seperate versions of a couple of the poems used. The powerpoint doc was too big, but if anyone is interested, drop me a line and we will find a way!

Below are some of the slides of houses, which we displayed with the house beatitudes added.

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The spirituality to be found at a fireside…

This is a photograph taken on our recent retreat. I think the glow above the fire is an internal lens/filter reflection. Cheap filters are a problem I am told! But it looks like something has been created from our gathering- or perhaps the old truth that where we gather in his name, he is in the midst of us…

Gathering around a fire must be stamped somewhere in the middle of what it means to be human. After all, it must be just about our oldest form of social gathering.

There is a story about a micro technology project that visited a village in Africa, offering to install a solar powered lighting system. “Why do we need this?” asked the village elders. “What benefits would this bring to our people?” “Well,” replied the aid workers, “you will be able to work later in the evening, your children will be able to study and use computers and your wives will be able to prepare food more easily.” The elders considered for a while, then politely declined the offer of the electricity system. When asked why, they replied “There are enough hours in the day for work. In the evening, we gather round a fire and tell the stories that make us who we are.”

On our recent retreat, we gathered round a fire. It was tricky- there were no trees on the island and a fast tide race sweeping the shores clean, so we had to gather wood from nooks and crannies all over the rocky shores. We told stories of hopes and dreams, and prayed using incense that we scattered on the fire (to symbolise the fragrance of Jesus) and iron filings that sparked us into awareness of the power of the Spirit.

My your fireside be equally warm and welcoming, and may great stories be told…

Banksy- ‘Exit through the gift shop’…

We have just watched this film.

Telling the story of a ‘film maker’ Thierry Guetta, who seeks out street artist and international man of mystery- Banksy. He starts out obsessively videotaping the embryonic graffiti/street art movement, as it moves from the fringe into the studios and art galleries. Then decides he want a piece of the action, reinventing himself as Mr Brainwash, and staging a hugely successful art show in Los Angeles.

That is- he might have done.

Because as you watch the film, you find yourself asking again and again ‘Is this for real?’

Or is this film a statement of how a counter cultural art movement became adopted by the mainstream, commercialised and then loses its authenticity? A ‘prankumentary’?

How it sold out, just like Punk and Pop Art had done before it?

And given all the parallels between installation art and emerging/alternative worship (check out Jonny Baker’s book ‘Curating Worship‘) I found myself thinking about how movements erupt, flow, channel and then cool to carvable, portable stone.

And how the early proponents of the movement- pioneers and radicals as they are- become disenchanted and there is talk of ‘pirates’ and the end of it all.

But as Banksy says about Mr Brain Wash- ‘I felt that he was not playing by the rules, but then, there were no rules.’

So- exit through the gift shop.

Or perhaps change the game.

Because it is truth that will set you free, and the media is NOT the message.

Or is it?

Aoradh advent sky lantern launch…

We are just in after a our sky lantern launch.

It was lovely.

We have been passing out lanterns to community groups, and selling others for charity, and invited people to decorate them with prayers and hopes.

Here are a few pictures-

Advent sky lantern launch…

Aoradh are planning a massed sky lantern launch on the banks of the river Clyde as a way of celebrating the season of Advent.

In doing this, we pray that we can learn how to wait in hope for the coming of light into darkness.

This is a repeat of an event we did last year- some photos of which are here.

We will be using lanterns made from 100% biodegradable materials- with no wire that can be of potential risk to any animals.

We will be selling the lanterns at a local shop, and making others available free for schools and community groups. And profit will go to a Christmas charity.

Here is the poster-

If you are fairly local it is well worth coming to join us- the spectacle is wonderful.

And the process of making prayers that float upwards is very moving.

This is the blurb that we include with the lanterns-



The light keeps shining in the darkness, and the darkness can never put it out…


As part of our Advent festivities, Aoradh invite you to be part of a celebration of light.


Each year, we are plunged into a whirl of busyness around Christmas- all the presents we buy, the cards we send, the pressure of making ready for a feast. All these things are good, but it is so easy to lose sight of the Christ-child. We wanted to encourage one another to step aside, and reflect…


Our intention is to use these paper sky lantern as carriers of our hopes, expectations and prayers in this season of waiting, and so make our deliberate preparation for the coming Christmas.


You are invited to write prayers and thoughts on the lantern, and to be part of a MASS SKY LANTERN LAUNCH from the West Bay Dunoon, on Sunday the 12th of December, from 5.00 pm- weather permitting.


(NB We will need fairly calm, dry conditions for the mass launch to take place. If we are not able to launch on the Sunday, then we will go for 5.00 on Monday- then Tuesday and so on.)


The spectacle of a large number of sky lanterns rising over the Clyde together is something that we hope will live in our memories, as a visual reminder of the rising possibility of hope.


And of light flickering in the darkness…


Be careful as you write on the lanterns- they are fragile!



All Saints Eve meal…

We had our monthly Aoradh family day meal tonight- which happened to coincide with the dreaded Halloween.

Dreaded in my case, as I find the increasing madness around Halloween difficult to stomach. The ‘traditions’ we are inheriting are very recent ones- which owe more to 1970’s American films than they do to any folk traditions native to these islands. This does not in itself make them bad- but in this case, I struggle to understand the point of the whole thing.

An evening to dress up as ghosts and mass murderers and walk the streets eating sweets and chocolate…

Actually, when you put it like that, it sounds rather fun doesn’t it?

And that is the other struggle. We took a decision years ago that as Christians, we wanted to keep away from it all. It had too much of the darkness, and not enough of the light. It sided with the wrong half of the tradition- preferring the celebration of devils and demons that was supposed to be a precursor to the celebration of All Saints Day- a day which passes unnoticed.

But this means that our kids have always missed out on the fun bit, although we are certainly much less strict than we used to be- William went to the school disco, and Emily is old enough to make up her own mind.

But then I see some of the things going on, and my resolve stiffens again.

In the middle of Dunoon, a local hall has set up a little fake graveyard. And above it, they have strung some stuffed white sheets, hung from the neck and splashed with red paint. Quite creative really. Certainly a lot of time was taken.

Except that when I saw them, it looked like ‘strange fruit‘.

And also reminded me of the people who killed themselves by hanging over the last year. Relatives of whom may well be driving past…

Tonight, we shared a meal with our Aoradh friends, and it was lovely. To mark the evening, we decided to play a game of pass the parcel.

We turned of the lights, and passed the parcel in the dark, and each layer of the parcel had a candle, and some words about light. The candle was lit, and the words read.

And as the game went on, it got lighter, as more and more candles were lit.

Eventually we got to the middle- a large candle, and some indoor sparklers.

Which we lit, and prayed.

It was simple and profound, and once more made me very grateful for my friends.

Back from Greenbelt…

So, we are back.

After a thousand miles of driving, and hours of motorway, our Aoradh roadtrip down to Greenbelt 2010 is all over.

And it was good!

A few personal highlights-

Our worship collaboration between Safespace and Sanctus 1. We spent all day on Saturday co-hosting a worship space in which we invited people to consider their community. This involved ‘stations’, and also liturgical ‘led’ worship events through the day. We did a think with spilt wine, and blood serum pots that was very powerful, and it fitted in really well with the lovely work done by the other groups.

Meeting people, and having conversations.

London Community Gospel Choir!

The large scale worship service on Sunday. They can be hit and miss affairs, but this year was lovely.

Of course, we missed as much as we saw- you always do. I was very sad to miss the Tautoko gathering at the Cathedral this year- we did not get down in time. And there were so many speakers that I wanted to hear, but missed. Need to download some talks…

Some more photos-

The father who walks with the Son and the Spirit…

I have taken a day off work today- the sun is shining, and I need a day at home after a really busy couple of weeks.

Greenbelt festival is looming!

Aoradh are going to be doing a few worship things again- participating in a day long worship event along with Sanctus 1 and Safespace. I just checked the GB website and see we are not mentioned as participants! How rude.

As part of the worship, we are providing a great big loom, into which people will be encouraged to weave in the names of their community- here is the loom frame in front of our house-

We are also doing a couple of liturgies- one around communion, with a really lovely piece that Audrey wrote, and another based on the Community of God- the Trinity, with our bit focussing on the Father.

If you are at Greenbelt this year, it would be great to see you- we will be in the New Forms cafe for most of the day on Saturday…

I pulled out an old piece of writing I did thinking about fatherhood, and have been doing some work on it. Here are a couple of sections I am playing with-

We were made for relationship.


All of us- with no exceptions

Every one of God’s children


From the star pupil,

To the remedial

Poorly clothed


Back-of-the-classroom loser


Who becomes the favourite

The Chosen One

The last-

Now made first



Of the most high God



Abba is not a word of examination

It demands no achievements

And sets no unreachable goals


Abba is not a word of judgement

It has no laws to uphold

And carries no truncheons


Abba is not a word of profit

It knows no sensible spending limits

And demands no collateral


Abba is not an ineffectual word

It answers to no committees

And has no obligations


Abba is not a word of power

It has no foot soldiers

And demands no blind obedience


Abba is not an absent word

It has no shoddy rented spaces

And evicts no tenants


Abba is an open word

Open doored

Open armed

And open hearted


It is a word that invites us home.