Feb 19

Fasting 1

Who in the tutor group has ever fasted?  Perhaps they could speak about the reasons why (everything from medical to religious duty), how easy or difficult it was/is and what the benefits of fasting might be.

One religious writer said,


if you have never fasted, you are missing a chance to grow spiritually.


I wonder what he was getting at?  It’s always hard to give up something, especially if those around us aren’t giving up the same thing.

Fasting should aid our spiritual lives. As Andrew Bonar said,


Fasting is abstaining (ceasing) from anything that hinders prayer.


Each of us could find an example of something we could fast from in order to pray more.

Isaiah the Old Testament prophet gives another view of fasting.  He speaks God’s words,


Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

    and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

    and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry

    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter –

when you see the naked, to clothe them,

    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

    and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness[a] will go before you,

    and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;

    you will cry for help, and he will say: here am I. 
Isaiah 58


Or as Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kyiv said:


During Lent, it is most important to not eat one another.


This encourages us to cease from dis-respecting others and actively doing more to support those around us.  It’s really well expressed in the following prayer:

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ within them.

Fast from emphasis on difference; feast on the unity of life.

Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.

Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.

Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.

Fast from worry; feast on trust in God’s Care.

Fast from unrelenting pressure; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.

Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.

Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.

Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.

Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.

(William Arthur Ward)


Here’s a really interesting video about ‘Hope’, featuring an Australian Christian artist:



Optional Music: Rend Collective, Create In Me:




Tags: Faith
Feb 3

I Can Research 2


                      Flag-map of Uganda               Ikoba Secondary School badge


On Friday 10 February, Jean Miller, myself, Simeon and Jodie (in year 11) will fly out to the Masindi district of Uganda to visit Ikoba, our partnership school of eleven years!

I've never been to Uganda before and have been trying to do some research on the history and culture of the country. Can you help me with these questions? Please pass on the answers as I need them.

1. When did Uganda become independent?

2. What is the Swahili word for hello?

3. Which bird is in the centre of Uganda’s flag?


As a music lover, I have been quickly researching some of the sounds coming from Uganda, and particularly enjoyed Eddy Kenzo and his song 'Sitya Loss':



I challenge you to discover what his message is? There is an English translation of these words.


As well as there being much to celebrate in Uganda, like any country, there are challenges. I'd like to finish by asking you to pray for the country, as well as for Ikoba and our trip there. Here are some pointers:


Pray for good, moral and effective leaders who steward with wisdom and compassion.

Pray for unity and friendship among Christians of various denominations in Uganda.

Pray for the prospering of Uganda’s infrastructure, and that it is kept safe and secure.

Pray for peace and good relationships between political parties and with neighbouring countries.

Pray for the welfare of staff and students at Ikoba school, for the continued healing of Headteacher Faith, safe travels, good health and connections for those of us travelling, and a Holy Spirit inspired development of the partnership through the visit.

We conclude our prayers by asking that through ordinary humans like us, God would build his kingdom dreams in Bristol, Uganda, and all over the earth.



Tags: Faith
Jan 26

I Can Research 1

Are these facts true or false? You may have time to research them now so turn the cards when you think you know.




You need curiosity to be a researcher but you need more than that.  You need to have skill, to persevere, to check your sources and not to just follow the crowd to mention just a few.

One of the joys of having a partner school in Uganda and of being part of a diverse school and of a diverse city is that we sometimes have to research why certain actions have particular meaning.

You might like to research Passion Plays, for example.  I also wonder which country reads crime novels and thrillers as part of its Easter celebrations.  Do you know in what tradition the service starts with the phrase, “it is time for the Lord to act”?  You could also research Janani Luwum, a previous Archbishop of Uganda.  Bishop Mike of Bristol is going to Uganda in February to commemorate him.

Wanting to understand our near and far neighbours is an expression of love and an acknowledgment that we are all related to one another as we are all children of God.

Prayer (from the World Council of Churches):


Eternal God, whose image lies in the hearts of all people,
Help us to remember

that you love all people

with your great love,

that all religion is an attempt to respond to you,

that the yearnings of other hearts

are much like our own

and are known to you.

Help us to recognize you

in the words of truth,

the things of beauty,

the actions of love about us.

We pray through Christ,

who is a stranger to no one land

more than another,

and to every land

no less than to another.


Optional music: A lot of research has gone into this piece, but mainly, it’s just fun!



Tags: Faith
Jan 20

I Am Interdependent 2




Oxfam published a report this week, claiming that the world’s eight richest billionaires (who are all men) control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, roughly 3.6 million people.

How does this news make you feel? What would be your headline for this story?

Mark Goldring CEO of Oxfam GB writes,


This year’s snapshot of inequality is clearer, more accurate and more shocking than ever before. It is beyond grotesque that a group of men who could easily fit in a single golf buggy own more than the poorest half of humanity.


As I think about the probability that I am in the top 5% of wealthy people, and live in one of the richest countries in the world, I have to accept that I too have a responsibility to work hard for equality. 

But how do we do it? What possibilities and solutions are there to reverse the gaps between rich and poor?

Someone has made this video to try to tackle that question:



Do you agree or disagree? Do you think we should we be focusing more on climate change or social change? How do they impact each other?

640px Whole world land and oceans 12000

By NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


As we aspire to become more outward looking people, let us also remember to pray;

God of the body of Christ, organs and limbs, feet and hands,
the weak and the strong, the broken and the suffering,
We recognize our dependence on you,
we see how you knit us together as one.
We confess our own independence, our own individualism and self-centeredness.
We too often say:
I don’t need you
I don’t need others
I can only rely on myself.
We see this has a crippling effect on our society, on our nations, on our souls.
Help us to nurture into our lives the very things necessary to see our own interdependence.
May you also strengthen this community and draw us together as one.

The Black Eyed Peas once asked the question, where is the love? Last year, they remixed and re-released it believing it’s a message the world desperately needs:



Tags: Faith
Jan 13

I Am Interdependent 1

Can you guess what these are pictures of?


Sushirrito (9310623804)




Kronum Field

Yes, you’re right. They are all mixtures. The first is a sushi burrito, the second shows Tex Mex foods, the third is chess boxing (yes really it exists) and the fourth is kronum, a mixture of handball, basketball, soccer and rugby. Obviously, if you took one part away from each of these, you would lose some effectiveness.

Interdependence is recognising when we are stronger with others than when we are on our own. Think of an example when you have understood this. 


Sometimes you’re not stronger when you’re working with someone else and mixing the heavy rock band Black Sabbath and a Cathedral Choir is not an obvious winner. That’s what’s just happened, though.

Tony Iommi - the guitarist in heavy metal band Black Sabbath - has written an acoustic arrangement for Birmingham Cathedral to "give something back" to his home city. Iommi, who rose to fame alongside Ozzy Osbourne in the 1960s, worked alongside the Very Reverend Catherine Ogle in order to create a five-minute arrangement which celebrates peace and harmony.

How Good It Is was inspired by Psalm 133 and is performed by the Cathedral Choir. Iommi accompanies the ensemble on acoustic guitar.

This week sees the start of the ‘Week of Prayer For Christian Unity’, a chance for Christians to recognise and deepen their sense of interdependence with those from other churches. Please pray especially this week for all of us to recognise that we are part of the body of Christ. Here is a prayer specially written for this week:


Almighty God, you sent your son Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to yourself.

We praise you because through your Gospel, in all parts of the earth a community of love has been gathered together, and that in every place your servants call upon your name.

May your Spirit awaken in every community a hunger and thirst for unity.




Tags: Faith