Forest Church

Quartz Forest Church

21/4/24 Online and in person

We will gather 2pm this Sundayoutside the Crichton Chapel in Dumfries

  • We will meet in Christs name

And share his peace. All are invited Whether you consider yourself a close friend or are just curious.

There is a danger that this can be come a vague habit but we do it because it is important to set aside our everyday concerns to enter into a special time. There is a skill described as “Holding the space” which is used by storytellers, DJ’s, people chairing meetings meetings and others. We also believe that like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, or Paul to Damascus or the experiences of the whole company of brothers and sisters living and departed this shared space is ‘held’ by Jesus and we can really meet with him in it. It is our heritage, and we enter into something which has been handed on to us, for us to hand on.

  • Reading from the book

15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;  they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

Mark 16: 15-20 NRSV
  • Reading creation – recognising “Earth Day” We will also explore the theme of Planet vs Plastics
Christian civilisation necessarily leads to genuine and permanent greatness; for liberty, fraternity, and equality, in their highest and widest sense, can only flourish under the shadow of the Cross. (Quote from the introduction to a Victorian family bible)
Quote from the introduction to a Victorian Family Bible

In the grounds of the Crichton estate we walk through the paradox of imperialism and colonialism. We are on the grounds of a hospital built from the profits of international trade, for the relief of suffering aided by the best understanding that modern science could offer – and motivated by charity, Christian love. This is a great and genuine inheritance.

However we are in a world where globalism, the exploitation of fossil fuels, and the flaws inherent in the system of government we have are visible. In our own town the collapse of metal health, a struggling NHS, and inequality hides houses where kids run barefoot on floors with exposed nails or are locked in a room, neglected, by their parents seeking a bit of peace to console themselves by self medicating to find temporary oblivion.* When we look at the legacy of our technological and social revolutions do we see genuine and permanent greatness?

This is not a new problem. Ever since the Church became influential at a national level clerics have been comparing their nation to the old testament stories. They encourage their fellow countrymen to live out a divine destiny and threaten, or explain, threats to the nation by referring to the shame of their culture abandoning God. Much like the teachers of the law were probably doing about the time Jesus was picking disciples.

So what can we do differently? Take for example the problem of plastic.

We need plastic on a daily basis. In Scotland our whole system of food production and distribution uses it. To reject it completely would be extremely difficult for an individual or household. This can lead to feelings of powerlessness or that any positive action we take is just greenwashing over the cracks without effecting change.

For followers of the Way the first thing we can do is hope. We have inherited the possibility of entering into the peace of Christ. The comforter is with us and she can remind us of Jesus on a daily basis, and help us learn how to respond to new challenges.

We can pray, both for change and for awareness. Prophesy is a gift we should all pray for, practice even! It is a gift given to build up the community, and is as much about awareness of what is happening as it is about describing possible futures. (This theme is found in the story of Jonah).

Having done this we can reflect on what we have found out and apply it according to context. “ And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.” There are stories of people drinking physical poison and surviving, but surviving the toxic environment of social media to participate in online communities without becoming bitter is another resistance to poison that is perhaps more relevant to us.

Prayer and Reflection

(Read this to get an idea of what you are going to do, then have a go).
Find a tree.

Look at the tree and take in the roots, the trunk and the leaves. The leaves capture carbon and feed it into growth, and then the soil. The roots draw up nutrients into growth, and then feed oxygen into the air. They are part of a cycle, held in place by the trunk.

Rest against the trunk and enter into the peace of Jesus. Jesus links heaven and earth, he has cleared all obstacles and invites us to stand with him.

Imagine the tree in it’s place in it’s cycle. Slow down and breathe with it.

Allow your mind to wander to think about other cycles, like that which contains shopping, eating and taking out the rubbish. If you feel overwhelmed, let the tree hold you! remember it’s cycle. Use this time to sense awareness. These questions might help:

  • Where does your food come from, where does you waste go?
  • Are there anythings which break the cycle, or overwhelm it?
  • Are there any dead ends which branch off and fill up?
  • What place do plastics have in the cycles?

Allow your mind to wander to think over what you have become aware of. If you feel overwhelmed, let the tree hold you! remember it’s cycle. Use this time to give form to your longings for change. Express your desires to God, pray for what you hope to happen in Jesus name.

As you leave the time of prayer and leave the tree think about one small practical change you can personally make in words or actions.

For more about cycles and responding to climate change (and climate anxiety) through taking a roundview please have a look at this post.

We will close with time to discuss each others experiences, with refreshments courtesy of the Crichton central. Using washable rather than disposable cups…

If you are following online, please use the comments to participate in this!

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