Eavesdropping and entrapment – Jeremiah 20:1-13

Rather unusually for me, this was a rather more expository sermon than I normally deliver. 

I wonder how often we listen in on other people’s conversations, either inadvertently because we happen to be nearby, or deliberately to discover something of interest or importance to us. It’s not always advisable, but it’s actually quite easy to find ourselves doing it. But what if were able to eavesdrop on the conversations that some people have with God?

Let’s take Rowan Williams as an example. I wonder, hypothetically you understand, what Uncle Rowan might have said to God recently? Say, about 2 weeks ago, during General Synod perhaps? Because he the public eye, we don’t have to eavesdrop on what he actually said; things like “I long to see women bishops in the C of E” and also “I long for there to be … provision for those who continue to have theological reservations on this subject.” Yet, I wonder, as the deeply prayerful man he is known to be, whether in his private spaces with God, he allowed his frustration to show, and suggested that God placed a ‘plague on both their houses?!’

In this passage from Jeremiah we are being given quite deliberately, the opportunity to eavesdrop on two conversations. One between a prophet and his colleague priest, and the other between the same prophet and God.

We hear the first of these conversations in three ways:
● as a passer by watching an altercation between two priests by a Temple gate in Jerusalem;
● as a Jewish slave of the Babylonian empire denied a homeland and a place of worship by the actions of our forbears;
● and today, as the inheritor of this ancient text looking through the lens of a new covenant found in Christ.

If we were passing the Upper Gate of Benjamin shortly before the fall of Jerusalem, we would quite possibly have recognised both the characters who stood at odds with each other.

One was the outspoken critic of the nation’s greed and idolatry who called the people to reform and repent, and who prophesied in the name of God the destruction of not just their Holy of Holies but of their city and their nation.

The other, nominally a priestly colleague of the first, was the legal guardian of the Temple precincts, known probably for his placatory blindness to the greed and violence of the nation, and keen to protect his position and his family.

One was fresh from the stocks, derided, ignored, denounced and whispered against; the other maintained the status quo by denying the truth of God by force.

Seeing them confronting each other was probably no surprise, but perhaps as an eavesdropper we would have sensed the change of focus in the prophet’s words. For this priestly official of the temple, the word of God had suddenly got personal, very personal indeed. It was no longer words spoken against a nation with whom God had lost patience, but with a leader of the people, whose very family, wealth and person would be exiled and destroyed. To hear someone so exulted be confronted by news of their own death and burial anywhere outside of Jerusalem, as a result of their own jealousy and pride, must surely have shaken the idle listener if not the thick-skinned guardian of the Temple.

But would that eavesdropper really have considered that all that Jeremiah spoke affected them? Or, because nothing had actually happened to anyone since Jeremiah had first proclaimed God’s vengeance, would it have been dismissed as someone else’s problem, and simply become an incident to gossip round the next street corner?

Hearing the description of that incident read, several decades after the event, as a Jewish slave in a foreign land, knowing that all the prophet Jeremiah had spoken had come true, must have stung. The blame for your own situation could be laid fairly and squarely at the door of the Temple priest, and those like him who had ignored the word of God, for the sake of their own position and gain.

Living in the context of the exile that Jeremiah had foretold, perhaps contemplating the loosening grip of the Babylonian empire on your life, and the long dreamed-of return to Jerusalem, listening to that story could have inspire a waryness to the motives of your leaders, and a considerable motivation to be faithful to God in all things. And yet, and yet…

Today, we don’t eavesdrop on the prophet’s words from a nearby gateway, or read the account like a history book written in hindsight. Now, through the lens of the Gospels, we watch the persecution of Jeremiah by his fellow priests, and see in it a precursor of the persecution which Jesus suffered at the hands of the Scribes and Pharisees 600 years after these events, when once again God’s covenant people were not open to the word of God being proclaimed among them within the Temple Courts.

Is Jeremiah’s accusatory prophesy over Pashhur so far removed from Jesus’ condemning the money changers in the Temple within sight of the chief priests and teachers of the law, in Matthew 21? No, it isn’t.

Is it so far removed from those who speak out against tax avoidance and un-necessary brand dominance at the Olympics, or those that are concerned for injustices in milk prices, or the secularisation of our education system? No, it isn’t. But, do these contemporary voices speak in the name of God, or simply from a sense of general moral outrage?

Because, as I’m sure both our Archbishops are only too well aware from personal experience, like Jeremiah, if you are called to speak what you understand as God’s truth, in the public sphere today, you are likely to be derided, denounced and whispered against, ignored by many of those to whom you speak.

Little surprise then, if when Christian leaders have their personal time out for a private conversation with God, they get more than a little peevish, and lament their lot. Just like Jeremiah.

For the second part of the passage here is no piece of poetry or the account of a public display of weakness, but a written testimony to a “vocational crisis, caused by the prophet’s distress at being stuck between an insistent God and a resistant people”, designed perhaps to bring about the remorse or repentance of those still in exile for whom it was recounted.

Jeremiah, is not the only person in the world ever to have felt backed into a corner by God, with no way out but to fulfil a calling that they know will bring hardship, persecution and the reproach and misrepresentation of even those that should be their colleagues. It is perhaps a case of entrapment rather than deception, because Jeremiah 1 shows that no deception has been involved. For it is clear from the outset of Jeremiah’s calling that he recognised God as putting the words in his mouth, and that those to whom he proclaimed their own idolatry and wickedness, would fight against him, what he said, and the God he stood for.

If we look again through the lens of the Gospels, are the sufferings of Jeremiah really so very different to those that Jesus warns his disciples of in John 16, knowing as he did that the authorities would put them out of the synagogue, or ordinary people kill them thinking that by doing so they were offering a service to God? (John 16:2)

In fact is this lament of Jeremiah’s, condemned by some since as blasphemous, really so very different from Jesus’ cry from the cross “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”! (Mark 15:34)

Yet, Jeremiah’s complaints do not stay focused on the God that placed him in this situation. He knows that he is in the service of God’s compelling truth, and that is why he must speak it, a truth that speaks out both against the violence and destruction of a nation against its own faith and people, and of the violence and destruction that will be ranged against them by external forces. Jeremiah cannot be true to his calling under God by being silent.

So Jeremiah’s sharpest complaints are against his persecutors, and his only request of God is against them, that God might judge them by their actions. It is not that God doesn’t know his cause, for we know it is the one to which God called him, but it is one that his own humanity requires him to lay before God so that he forces himself to acknowledge God’s ownership of the situation in which he feels trapped.
Tough though he is finding the ministry of prophet, he acknowledges God as a mighty warrior, fighting as foretold on the side of the truth Jeremiah proclaims. So even at this his lowest ebb, the prophet is able to silence his own complaints with thanksgiving, full of confidence in God’s deliverance.

Surely that was a word of hope to those in exile in Babylon. God can be trusted, and will fulfil the prophesy they were to read about later in the account of their exile that “When seventy years are completed in Babylon, God would come to them and fulfil his good promise to bring them back to Jerusalem.” (Jer 29:10)

Again through the lens of the Gospel, Christ prophesies that he will die but rise again (Mark 8:31) but then be taken from from his people so that the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth (John 16:12) can bring God’s people back to a place of relationship with him, a new Jerusalem. God’s word of truth, through prophets like Jeremiah down the ages to Christ’s own teaching, can be trusted.

So, where does all that leave us today?

Firstly, it poses us questions about whether our private conversations with God have integrity.

Do they really reflect the anguish of serving God faithfully, and if they don’t, why don’t they?

Is it because we are like the unfaithful idolaters ignoring the truth that God is speaking into our hearts, directly or through the mouths of others, and we can’t therefore look God squarely in the face and pour out our hearts to him?

Or is it because when we have been obedient to his calling, and found that true to his word, God has placed us in some darn tight uncomfortable corner where we are forced to say things that make us unpopular or do things that cause us emotional pain or turmoil, we feel we shouldn’t lay it all before him and cry out in our distress: “Lord, you got me into this mess; now get me out again!”?

Secondly, we are being posed questions about the level to which we embody the word of God.

We proclaim in our creed that we believe in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, that by those means we live in a relationship as close to God as the one that Jeremiah witnessed to. Yet, is our faith in God visible as something which burns within us in such a way that it drives our behaviour and our thinking in every waking moment, both the public ones, and the private ones?

For all the torture, the gloomy prophesy, the sense of being trapped in a God-given situation over which a mere human has no control, the frustration at man’s inhumanity to man and unfaithfulness to God, this passage should give us hope!

We have a God who is with us, and though he sees us for who we are, we live in that new covenant relationship of forgiveness through Christ for what is past. With utter honesty we can lay before God our fears and frustrations, and we can always start afresh each day to witness to God’s faithfulness and sing the praises of the one who upholds in all we do in his name and for his glory.

Beetles and butterflies between the showers

My favourite field as one of those showers closed in. Probably the best photo taken on my smartphone so far! 7th July 2012 (just before I saw the butterfly shown below)

Today the sun has come out, term is over, the lad is home from his school music tour to Austria, and all is well with the world. But, it has been a tad showery recently, don’t you think?!

I guess most of us have grumbled about the wet; even if we’re delighted there is no-longer a hosepipe ban, it’s not like we’ve needed the hosepipe!

Female Stagbeetle struggling through the mud 14th July 2012

But just think how the little creatures have faired? Even if you’re a big Stag Beetle, the mud and the wet must make life a huge struggle, not to mention the fact that mid July is actually quite late in the summer to be seeing them! It suggests that the female shown here, hadn’t yet had a chance to lay her eggs perhaps?

For the butterflies, it might seem even worse. If you’re trying to hatch and dry your wings as a deluge like the one shown above arrives, what chance have you got of survival I wonder?

Very poor photo taken on the same smart phone of a Purple Hairstreak butterfly trying to dry its wings as a storm blew in – 7th July 2012

But, the sun has been out, and between the showers it has been a joy to grab a camera, and a walk, and make the most of it. Now that summer has really come perhaps, what more #dogwalkdelights (as I call them) will be revealed? Who knows!

Meadow Brown (left) and Little Skipper butterflies on a thistle 14th July 2012

Thank you Mothers’ Union for being part of the adventure

Me (almost hidden behind the raised arm on the left) surrounded by Mothers’ Union members of Mfula, high in the Eastern Cape of South Africa (Diocese of Umtata) 2006

It is with some sadness, but also excitement about the future, that with effect from today Friday 20th July 2012, I am resigning my role as a Trustee of Mothers’ Union in the Diocese of Winchester.

It’s been an amazing ten years adventure since I joined Mothers’ Union after taking on editorship of the Diocesan Mothers’ Union newsletter ‘Archway’, and being almost simultaneously co-opted on to Trustees. During that time I have learnt alot about myself, as well as Mothers’ Union. Along the way fellow members have, I hope, come to understand how important it is to ‘shout about’ Mothers’ Union, the huge impact it’s project work has on people’s lives at home and abroad, and discovered that we really can (and must) harness modern media to share the good news of faith in action that we achieve. Please keep using that website at www.muwinchester.org.uk!

My journey with Mothers’ Union started with a phonecall from the then Diocesan President that I instantly recognised as a case of ‘God on the phone’. That journey isn’t ending here. Both Graham and I have every intention of remaining Mothers’ Union members as family life and marriage must be championed, and our overseas workers supported.

However (and I would have said this publicly even had I remained a Trustee), I happen to think that for Mothers’ Union to continue to be supported so that its project work remains viable and as well respected as it is, will require some drastic structural changes to the overall organisation. I suspect that time has come when we seriously need to consider merging Diocese (each is currently an independent charity) or work on a Provincial basis. Part of the problem is that we must continue to work within Charity Law, but alternative ways must be found of remaining accountable whilst celebrating our active passion for marriage and family life. I’m not sure that any of the proposed changes to Charity Law will help this. Being accountable is important, and thus some local administration will always be a necessary burden, but something needs to be done quite radically to change the expectations of local people held by central management, else we will see enthusiastic younger members come, and then go, as I have.  Otherwise I fear that the passionate, pioneering and prayerful flames that Mary Sumner sparked all those years ago will be suffocated because the way we work stifles the creativity of those wanting to take projects forward in the name of Mothers’ Union.

Me (right) with Mothers’ Union and Diocese of Winchester colleagues who together had organised the Make Poverty History rally at Winchester Cathedral in 2005

The various adventures that Mothers’ Union has given me, including speaking in HMP Winchester, gathering round Winchester Cathedral during Make Poverty History, in my own and in various other parishes, have all contributed to the call that I am now responding to. Without them I would never have become a Reader, and it is through ministry as a Reader that I came to understand my calling to the priesthood, that I admit many others recognised long before I did.

I will be starting ordination training at Ripon College Cuddesdon, through their part-time Oxford Ministry Course in September, where it is hoped I will achieve an MA in two years, with a view to being ordained in 2014 as a self-supporting minister. Because our son will be working through GCSEs and A-levels during this period, it is currently our intention to stay living in Yateley, though I will need to serve a curacy elsewhere in the Winchester Archdeaconry. Quite what the next leg of the adventure with God will be, only he knows, but be assured I will continue to shout about Mothers’ Union wherever and whenever I am given the opportunity. I hope you will to.

Thank you to everyone I’ve met through, and who has encouraged my involvement with, Mothers’ Union over these last ten years, regionally, nationally and internationally. May God inspire and bless us all as we continue to work together to support marriage and family life.

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus! Ephesians 1:3-14 (an anniversary sermon)

Twenty years ago…
This sermon should be a lesson to me in checking rotas as it never got preached! There may be other lessons to be learnt too:

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free;
Rolling as a mighty ocean,
In its fulness over me.

Twenty years ago today, we sang those words at our wedding! It was a favourite from our time at the church in Aberystwyth through which we met. There, together with a fine music group, there were enough Welsh voices to carry the tune with just enough bass to make it sound like the the ‘mighty ocean’ of the Irish Sea, crashing against the rocky outcrop that lies a few yards from the door of that church.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Spread his praise from shore to shore,
How he loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, nevermore.

There is a depth of passionate love for Christ in the words of that hymn which for me echo the passion in this hymn of praise that opens the Epistle to the Ephesians. The writer, probably St. Paul, was so caught up in his praise for God, experienced in and through Christ, that he wrote the whole of our reading this morning in one sentence of Greek! As we read and think on it today, let us as we do so give thanks for the work of Bible translators down the centuries, who have kept that incredibly uplifting emotion in the words, whilst making it just a little simpler to read and understand!

By my reckoning St Paul uses the phrase ‘In Christ’ (or its equivalents like ‘in him, or ‘in the One’) at least eight times in this one sentence of passage. He is reminding the Ephesian Christians and us that God, in and through Jesus Christ has chosen us to be His people: we are adopted, we are redeemed, our sins are forgiven. He makes known His plans for us and all creation, He offers us His inheritance and marks us as holy by the presence of His very self in the Holy Spirit.

As Christians we are not simply stating we believe in some historical facts about a man called Jesus, living in first century Palestine. Neither are we paying a membership fee towards some pressure group that requires us to believe in the fact of his virgin birth, or resurrection from the dead, in order to carry out its aims and objects. Instead we are responding to the fact that deep within us, we know there were no lengths, no costs that God would not bear, no amount of time used that God would not [willingly give], to express His love for us. THESE are the things that inspire us to love Him too. Being Christian is living and loving in the light of these actions of a loving God, in and through Christ Jesus.

St. Paul writes to the Ephesians that we are “destined for adoption.” He uses that phrase quite deliberately because it describes the intimate love of God the Father, who aches with love. He recognizes that His family is not complete. He already has children but there are others still missing out from experiencing the love and care not just of any family but His family. Adoption is about bringing together a disparate family of ages, genders, races and sexes, all bound together, all encompassed by His love.

When Graham and I got married, there was in a very real sense an ‘adoption’ by our individual families of a new member. Since that day, where one or other sets of parents have done something for their child by birth, they have done it for the both of us. When my mother became ill and then died 15 years ago, Graham’s parents were a tower of strength, good common sense, and practical support. My father as you have probably noticed, is there for all of us when the logistics of family life get too complicated, and enables to achieve more than we could without him. To them all, we respond not just with a sense of gratitude, but with a profound and deep love that goes far beyond a sense of repaying a debt for what has been done for us, and is instead a witness to this sense of belonging as one family by adoption, or in our case, marriage.

Adoption here[in this passage of Ephesians] is a belief that we are supposed to belong to God, [not just owe him something] and that God has claimed us as his own. Our way to God is through Christ’s death and resurrection. It sounds beyond belief, but it is really grace — we have been forgiven and brought back to God and this is what Paul means as he writes… using this phrase ‘in Christ.’

As adopted children ‘in Christ’, every experience is reframed, from our most bracing joys and cherished achievements to our besetting temptations, our most anguished regrets, and our most wounding losses. “In Christ” we are joined to the power and presence of God Himself and no longer have to make our way in the world alone without hope or meaning. “In Christ” we are knit to others who will cry over our dead with us even as they help us sing hymns of resurrection. At the same time, being “in Christ” is no sentimental togetherness. You’ve heard the expression ‘blood is thicker than water’ to describe family ties – Christ’s blood shed on the cross is eternally thicker, for through it, we are bound together with each other and with Him. But like all family relationships this means sticking with each other, supporting one another in love through the good and not so good alike.

I want to leave us this morning with two thoughts:

Firstly, think back on a hymn that has for you special memories. Look at the words. What was it about those words that made them so special to you? What expression of your faith in God do they encompass that is so important that you might want to share it with others, in a letter or other conversation, just as St Paul did with his hymn here in Ephesians?

Secondly, whatever stage of life we’re at, whatever our family circumstances, or any sense of loneliness that we might encounter, as we move into our future this day, let us remember that we are unified as a family ‘in Christ’ with those that not only here today, but who worship here day-by-day, week-by-week, year by year. As God has so freely given us such wealth in Christ, let us praise and glorify him for that, from the very depths of our being.

In the words of that favourite hymn of mine:

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Love of every love the best:
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
‘Tis a haven sweet of rest.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
‘Tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to Thee.

The hymn Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus (SOF 968) was written by Samuel Trevor Francis. (This version I’ve linked to is completely unlike how we used to sing it at St Mike’s, but lovely none the less!)
In writing this sermon I am indebted to one particular member of my new ‘clergy on Twitter’ family, Revd Simon Cutmore whose words I have used (with permission and shown in italics) liberally and adapted partially for use in this sermon. This is a first for me, but having mistakenly overloaded myself with sermons and important things to do this week, it was either borrow from elsewhere, or start letting people (and myself) down!

Hart DC cut and slash – does it conflict with new Biodiversity Action Plan?

My husband photographing insects in the field West of the Red Cross Centre in Yateley 30th June 2012

Previously I have written about my delight in the fields adjacent to the Red Cross Centre in Yateley, that have been left this summer to grow long, and rich in flowers and insect life. Until yesterday that is!

Today, I found the long lush field utterly flat, and totally silent, devoid of all those flowers and insects. Not a butterfly, ladybird or grasshopper to be seen or heard. Rough mowed in yesterdays rain (from what I could tell) the cut grass lies like a hard crust across the field. In addition, a slasher has been taken to the trees around the field, including to the beautiful Bhutan Pine with the bluey-purple cones. As far as I can tell, these trees (which also include the Cherry and Oak in that line of planting) were not in anyone’s way.

The same field 17th July 2012.

As a regular user of the site I am keenly aware of how it is used, and I am not for a moment suggesting that all three fields are never mown. The two fields behind the Red Cross Centre, are regularly used by organised and recreational groups of families and children from the local community for all sorts of fun and games, as well as by local dog walkers. I can understand that these need reasonably regular grass cutting to maintain their attraction to users.

The field to the West of the centre and Monteagle House (nearer The Highwayman pub) doesn’t get such use however, really being nothing more than a thoroughfare for people, including many dogwalkers like myself.

Beauty (and a feeding place) to be found in a simple Hawkbit flower

Here (by eye rather than detailed survey) is the richest diversity of flower and grass species, which this year has proved (if left) can attract a whole bunch of insects. Surely with a little thought by those involved in Grounds Maintainance perhaps by talking with their colleagues in Countryside Services, here is an opportunity to take a tiny step towards fulfulling in a small, but important way, the aims of Hart District Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan which it seems to be launching this year. I have no idea if this little field fits Section 4.2 of that plan, but surely it could be an example of what will hopefully be done in more out of the way areas of the District?

How’s this for an idea that takes consideration of the field’s obvious use AND biodiversity value:

  1. The fresh (and rescued from the slashings) cones of the Bhutan Pine, alongside those dried, fallen and collected from a previous season.

    Rather than mowing the whole field, cut 3-4 single stips in the grass along the well developed natural pathways that people use the most, and leave the rest of the grass long for the duration of the summer.

  2. Rather than slashing the trees around the field, prune (not slash, which can cause rot and infection) only those that overhang the pathways through to the Red Cross Centre and Throgmorton Road areas (which noticably HAVEN’T been slashed this week!)

It only takes a little thought, and though I happily pay Council Tax for my bins to be collected etc, it would be nice to feel I was paying my District Council to THINK in a connected and joined up way about Biodiversity as well.

Postscript 18th July 2012: 

Three lots of swift and helpful feedback from local councillors: Apparently

“The land has recently been transferred to the Town Council although the ground maintenance is still, for a period of time, being carried out by contractors following a contract that was specified by Hart some time ago. 
 
Now that the land us the responsibility of the Town Council… a review will be undertaken as to what we want moving forward. Your comments will be useful as part of the review along with input from other users of the land so that the right balance can be achieved.
 
 I am aware that the land immediately adjacent to the Scout Hall is used for a wide range of activities which this week includes a pre school play group sports day. As your blog suggests there are other parts of the land that is not currently used as widely.”
another that said…
… appalled at the severity of the slashing that took place. I will ensure that the matter is raised for awareness at full council on Monday, in order that subsequent measures can take place to prevent any re-occurence…
but also a different view that suggest that some miss noticing the specifics I raise, and miss the point for a need for balance in biodiversity ‘v’ usage issues:
“I have been getting –mails and phone calls about the grass being too long.  The children couldn’t play in it and the dog walkers kept losing their balls.
I was up there yesterday and the weeding was being done by the  contractors  I didn’t see anything about un necessary cutting back.  Yateley Town Council will be taking this area over hopefully on the 1st August and they will have their own contactors.  I have passed your e-mail on to the Town Clerk who is due to meet with Hart this week.”

 

Travellers in the community – Gospel opportunity?

Travellers in a local public open space, Yateley, July 2012

Last week we had a small group of travellers take up residence in a field, which happens to be a public open space. As far as I can tell they caused no trouble, (unless you particularly dislike what I think was Elvis being played quite loudly), had no dogs loose that I encountered, and once they left, there remained only tyre tracks (though it is possible the Council may have cleared up, I don’t know).

I have been challenged personally over the last year or so in my pre-conceptions of, and reactions to travellers, gypsies and those of romany origin. I grew up in the 1980’s in Minstead, when my father was involved (through his work in the Forestry Commission) with the ‘Peace Convoy’ on Stoney Cross in 1986. I had also grown up with the stories of his previous work as a policeman in the same area, and the old encampment he used to visit on the edge of the village before I was born. There were other, less law abiding groups he encountered too! I knew these groups to be utterly different, but most had brought with them disruption (of different sorts) to the village, and inadvertently created division in the residential community.

I have not met directly, any of the travellers that pass through Yateley, and I don’t like fairground rides, so don’t visit that either.

I have however met several of our local settled Romany community through my work doing funerals, and baptism preparation at St Peter’s. They have without fail, been welcoming, both to me personally and to talking about their understanding of God. They feel very strongly about having a local Christian minister ‘do the honours’, and a loyalty to their local church that to be honest has surprised me. On each occasion, I sensed a strong link with God in the simple things of life: his creation which they value, and the family ties and traditions they keep so strong.

These points of recent contact and past memories, highlighted for me how easy it is to restrict who it is we regard as belonging to our community, who it is we offer a welcome to, who we are willing to recognise as fellow worshippers of God Almighty, who in fact our neighbour is.

It has also made me enquire into and research how the traveller and Romany communities relate to God, use a lot of Christian symbols in their home, and still are quite particular about returning to a parish church to mark the way-points in life.

As part of the selection process for ordination (Bishops Advisory Panel or BAP) that I have spoken about before, you have to give a short presentation on something that interests you, and which you can relate directly to your experiences of ministry so far. (You then have to lead a discussion about it with your fellow candidates!) I chose to do a presentation “How can the Gospel be ministered effectively and inclusively to our native Romany and traveller communities?” You can download and read it if you wish, but please be aware that I wrote it in a deliberately challenging fashion to provoke discussion: Gospel ministry with Romany and Travellers

In the process of putting that together, I discovered many links and a great book about the life and faith of these people, and I draw them together here in case they are of use to anyone else:

The Pure in Heart: An Epistle from the Romanies by Martin Burrell a truly excellent book (also available in Kindle format).

Pip, a 17 year old Romany boy, writes an Open letter to Channel 4 about Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

Diocese of Ely: Travellers and the Church including a download from Revd Martin Hore “Travellers and the Church – a Christian Response”

Friends, Families and Travellers a website aimed at ending racism and discrimination against the traveller community

Gypsies and Travellers – Why Should Christian’s Care from the Church Network for Gypsies and Travellers

I was, and am, particularly indebted to Simon Martin, Training and Resources Officer at the Arthur Rank Centre (supporting rural communities and churches) and Revd Simon Cutmore (who blogs at Rectory Musings) for their help in pointing me in the direction of these resources as I prepared for BAP.

I think that (probably after ordination training) I will be challenged again in this area, so I would welcome your thoughts, reactions, and experiences.