Travelling Light

15 10 2014

Greenbelt Festival has left quite an impression on those of us who went to it this year. Emma decided to revisit it’s headline theme ‘Travelling Light’

We started off reading a passage from Luke’s gospel where Jesus sends out 70 disciples and gives them some instructions about how they are to travel and what they are to do. – Luke 10:1-12

We were given some questions to get us thinking:

  • What does Jesus mean when he says ‘I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves’?
  • Why do you think Jesus advised the disciples to leave their belongings behind? Would these have helped or hindered the work?
  • Why do you think Jesus tells them to leave towns which don’t make them welcome?

These sparked lots of discussion covering everything from modes of dress in the ancient world to the playfulness of lambs as an approach to mission.

We then watched a video reflecting on travelling light  produced for Greenbelt by Pádraig Ó Tuama

We were then encouraged to reflect on what burdens might be weighing us down. What was holding us back from fully embracing our life with God. As we did so there was te opportunity to write or draw something and the to place it into the bag that was on the altar.

travelling light  travelling light 2

Once we’d put down our burdens we returned again to discussion. This time we were asked to talk about what brought lightness to our lives – it ranged from people to places to activities. We also thought around whether there were places that we went to that helped us leave heavy burdens aside.

As we prepared to leave we were given a final challenge to think of one thing that we can do to make our lives lighter this coming week. (in the film the man simply turns off his phone – something that most of us realised we never do)

Treasure Hunt

10 10 2014

This term we’re exploring a theme of Journeys. To start the term we had a Freshers’ Week Labyrinth that explored the things we bring with us and the things we leave behind (Thanks Frin for this a number of years ago!)

For our second week of term Hattie and Paul sent us out around the University campus for a treasure hunt.

In small teams we were texted the first clue and then headed to where we thought we might find the answer.

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Once we’d found the answer we texted this back to Paul who then send us a Bible verse followed by the next clue. This continued until we had a whole passage of scripture and had walked around a lot of different parts of campus – some of which we’d never seen before!

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Eventually all the different teams were back in Emmanuel for more coffee and cake, and time to reflect upon the journey we’d had. We were invited to find another team to sit with and compare our treasure hunt experiences:

  • To think about whether we had gone to places we hadn’t been before.
  • To talk about other things we had spotted on our route.
  • To contemplate how often we take time to notice the small but interesting things.

Finally we looked at Exodus 3: 1-6 (which we’d been sent a verse at a time over the evening) and asked how can we meet God in our small moments of wonder?



Our Fragmented Lives are knit together (CafeChurch does Greenbelt)

23 09 2014

Greenbelt put a call out for contributions to the worship program. It seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so Cafechurch decided to offer something. Sometimes Cafechurch sessions are the inspiration of one person, sometimes they are the result of a group of us playing with ideas. That’s how we got to our offering for Greenbelt. We held a facebook group conversation that enabled as many as wanted to join in the opportunity to do so. It was a great way for us to develop an idea when we were spread across the country and not all able to physically sit in the same room. We played with ideas of weaving, mending, brokenness, sustainability, Japanese art, medieval English mysticism, biblical texts and a whole lot more. Eventually we’d formed an idea and created a sense of what we wanted to do with it. The Greenbelt worship liked the idea and invited us along.

To get from an  idea to worship that could work for a group of unknown size, in an unknown venue took a bit of work and a lot of cutting and sticking but eventually we got there. Along with the idea we also realised that we needed to do something to promote the event to the good people of Greenbelt – all this was just an excuse to get a few of us together for a making session with pizza.

Armed with T-Shirts, friendship bracelet adverts, worship kits in envelopes, lots of bits of fabric and a home-made loom we headed for the beautiful fields of the new Greenbelt site at Boughton Hall.

We set up our loom frame on the grass in front of the Make & Create venue (we quickly realised that we wouldn’t fit into the space we’d been given but could easily do the session outside in the sunshine) and Vicky set to work weaving away. As people arrived got them into groups. The cafechurch member leading the group got them to start making friendship bracelets while they chatted and got to know each other a bit. Once all the groups had formed everyone was welcomed and the groups were encouraged to move on with the worship.

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The worship session was facilitated by using a set of envelopes – each envelope had a question on the front of it to get people discussing, with resources inside it to help inform the discussion. Inside was also another envelope that had the next question, more resources and another envelope….. (this is a format that we’ve used at cafechurch in the past and know works well with a varied size group – you can have as many envelope packs as you have group facilitators and everyone has all the resources they need for the session ready for the group)

The first envelope had the question ‘where did the clothes you’re wearing come from?’ Each group facilitator helped their group discuss this – the conversations ranged from which shops they had bought things in to where clothes had been manufactured. When the conversation slowed the group were invited to open the envelope.

Inside the envelope were three cards. Each one explained a different stage of the journey from growing cotton to making garments. this opened up further conversation as people shared their knowledge and ignorance of things like the dangers of cotton spinning, Fairtrade production and pesticide usage.

There was also another envelope inside the first. This had the question ‘where do the things in our pockets come from?’ (we guessed that most people would have a mobile phone). Conversation again headed off in multiple directions. Once again inside that envelope was information about the mining and extraction process that go into making phone components.

Throughout the discussion about where the fabric of our lives comes from each person was encouraged to write a prayer for those involved in some part of that process. These prayers were written on pieces of fabric that were then woven onto the large loom that was set up in the middle of the space.

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Having thought about where the stuff we have and wear comes from we then had a question ‘what happens to our clothes/the things in our pockets when we have finished with them?’

Inside this third envelope were three cards reflecting on re-use, recycle and throw away. Each card offered a short bible passage and a reflection either for personal use or discussion with others.

Re-use Throw away  Recycle

After people had had a chance to explore the three cards there was a final envelope in the pack. This introduced the Japanese idea of ‘kintsukoroi’ – mending broken pots with gold and in doing so creating something more beautiful than before.

There was space for reflection on our broken-ness and the mending we find in Christ. Alongside the card about ‘kintsukori’  was a needle and gold thread with the invitation to sew the gold thread either into the friendship bracelet made at the start of the session or into the clothes that people were wearing….

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People left having made new friends, reflected upon how we get the fabric of everyday life, prayed for those whose lives are woven together with ours, and reflected on how can live in a more sustainable way as stewards of God’s creation.

If you want to have a full set of the materials we used we’d be delighted to share them with you. Just send us a message…..


With faces downcast….

27 06 2014

In the few short weeks between the start of term and the exam season we spent some time looking at the Easter Story. Easter itself always occurs while the university is closed and most of us are not around Leeds. Thankfully the Easter season lasts a little longer.

Gemma offered to lead a session for us exploring the story of the road to Emmaus. In looking at the text the phrase ‘with faces downcast’ caught her eye and her imagination. From that she created a path for us to follow around the chapel. With faces downcast we could see the steps on the way. Each of these led us further into the Easter story. Along the way there were also some diversions offering places to stop, rest and ponder.emmaus5 photo 2


We took time to wander and reading the story as we went and taking time to turn aside and ponder as we did so.

At the first ‘turning aside’ was a plinth with an illuminated scent diffuser. There was an invitation to sit and enjoy the experience and to think about all the different senses we were using to do so. The questions were then asked ‘how do we experience Jesus?’ ‘do we ever struggle to recognise Jesus?’ ‘Why do you think God kept the travellers from recognising Jesus?’ ‘How is this significant for us today?’

The next ‘turning aside’ had a pile of texts of prophecies from the Old Testament and their fulfilments as found in the gospels. We were challenged to match up pairs and then join them together – eventually creating a paper chain of prophecy/fulfilment.




The final ‘turning aside’ was at the altar. Here a plate with broken bread on it had been placed alongside the question ‘ ‘the men only recognised Jesus when he broke the bread… why do you think this is? What does this tell us about how we should think of Jesus?’

The final steps of the path invited us to return back and discuss all that we had experienced with others.

Back at the tables over more coffee and cake a discussion developed as we thought about what it means to experience Jesus. There were all sorts of comments, but i was struck by a few.  ‘We recognise the reflections of Jesus in other people and situations’  ‘ We can’t see the whole person unlike the disciples’ ‘sometimes we see God in the tiny things – like the still small voice or the mustard seed’

We also talked about the problem of creating our own versions of Jesus. We have a problem of distance in time and space so how do we keep true to who he really is? We talked about the search for the historic Jesus, but the danger that even in that we have  a selective reading. We were also aware that our images and our understanding of Jesus changes as life moves on and we journey through it. That was where we saw church as being important (and we meant church in the sense of the community that discusses and shares prays and challenges and encourages)

Turning the Tables

7 05 2014

As usual we gathered over coffee and cakes, but it the Chapel there were 5 different tables.

After a while we were invited to go in and explore the tables, what was on and around them.

The first table  was a small cafe table. It was covered in bottles and empty glasses. It looked like a good evening had been had already. There was a note inviting us to pull up a chair, find a glass and pour a drink. There were also headphones to put on – the music playing was Elbow’s song ‘Sad Captain’. Cards on the table read ‘O taste and see”, ‘Have you tasted?’ ‘Can you see?’ ‘Or will it take another miracle table?’  There was a bible story to read too – John 2:6-11

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The seccond table was laying on its side. Hung from the table legs were images. The first was of a series of spoofed adverts on the reverse of which was the text ‘Hope is not a business’ .  The second was of a Nike advert that had the caption ‘Test your faith daily’  – the reverse read ‘Faith does not require an advertising campaign.  On the floor was a copy of 50 Shades of Grey. A book mark had the text ‘Love is…. not a product to be consumed’. On the floor was the text from John 2:13-21, Jesus turning over the tables in the Temple.

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The third table was set ready for dinner – 4 places laid out ready. At the end of the table was a napkin with a cross made of ash on it and palm crosses scattered onto the floor.

Those who ventured under the table found it dimly lit. Quietly in the background ‘God help me through this day’ (By Jesus and Mary Chain) was playing. There was a single palm cross on the floor and a text pinned to the underside of the table (Luke 7:36-50) A bottle held a piece of paper that read ‘Somethings that are hidden go intentionally ignored.’

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The fourth table had mugs of tea and a plate of biscuits on it.There was another Bible story (Matt 15:21-28). On the floor was a First Aid kit with plasters and antiseptic cream laying next to it.

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The final table was the communion table. To end the evening we gathered around, heard the story of the last supper and then shared bread and wine together.


Thanks to The Story – a Church in Sarnia, Ontario for the inspiration for this installation.

Lent 2 – poetry and sewing

18 03 2014

For our second Lenten week we were given a creative evening of poetry and needlework!

Josh introduced a poem by George Herbert.


Having been tenant long to a rich lord,
    Not thriving, I resolvèd to be bold,
    And make a suit unto him, to afford
A new small-rented lease, and cancel th’ old.
In heaven at his manor I him sought;
    They told me there that he was lately gone
    About some land, which he had dearly bought
Long since on earth, to take possessiòn.
I straight returned, and knowing his great birth,
    Sought him accordingly in great resorts;
    In cities, theaters, gardens, parks, and courts;
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth
    Of thieves and murderers; there I him espied,
    Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, and died.

Along with the poem were a series of questions to prompt reflection.

What, if anything, have you given up/taken up during Lent? How do you think this action develops your faith?

What event or experience has most developed/challenged your faith over the past year?

What is the best Christian book you’ve read?

Herbert’s character only sees God when they’re forced to look somewhere they hadn’t thought of. When have you met with God and not expected it?

Where has Lent removed the clutter from your life and allowed you to see clearly again?

Having been given the poem and prompter Emma introduced the next part of the evening. lent sewing

We were to create small pieces of embroidery. Some of us looked a little unsure about the idea. some of us were more technically challenged than others, but Emma carefully explained what we needed to do and gently encouraged us to have a go with it.

lent sewing2The chapel moved into a quiet concentration as people began to draw designs onto fabric, choose colours, thread needles and sew the designs.

It was amazing how quickly the evening went. By the end of it everyone had created something.

Lent sewing3    lent sewing4


18 03 2014

Even though we’re now into Lent CafeChurch continues to meet over coffee and excellent homemade cakes. This week we were all asked to bring with us a family recipe and an ingredient that goes into making it. On our tables Vicky had placed envelopes that had instructions written on the outside and then a series of prompts for action and discussion on pieces of paper inside the envelope.

We are asked to place our ingredient on the altar and then return to our table, open the envelope and see where we headed…. The altar soon had a varied assortment of jars and bags on it containing a strange variety of ingredients. Someone said it looked like a chefs invention test…. On opening the envelopes we found the following:

Lent is so often a time of giving things up, of abstinence, denial. But the purpose of Lent is to stop, to notice, to reflect.

Tonight you are invited to stop, reflect and revere one of the things we so often take for granted – food, the people who produce it , shape our lives and connect us to God’s earth.

1)     Share the recipe you have brought and why you have brought it.

Who does it connect you to?

What memories does it bring back?

When do you make it?

2) Take an ingredient from the altar. Take some time to reflect on it. Savour and revere how it looks, feels, smells, tastes (depending on the ingredient)

Think about where it came from, who produced it, how it connects you to God’s earth

3)       Choose someone else’s recipe. Take it and their ingredient home with you.

Set some time aside to make the recipe this week. As you cook, revere each ingredient and with it the people involved in making or producing it.

Think about the story behind the recipe and the person who it belongs to.

Give thanks for all these people and the ways they connect us to the earth, to each other and to God.

Share the food you have made, and the stories it comes with (including your own experience of making and reflecting on it) with someone else.

Soon people were sharing their recipes with each other. The stories that unfolded spoke of home and growing up, of family and relationships, of concern for each other (more than one was a recipe given to make sure there was at least one thing that could be cooked upon leaving home!). There were recipes that had been given by friends, and those that were alway shared with friends. There was a recipe recreated from memories of having eaten it with a dearly loved grandma. At times you could almost imagine the kitchen and the creative joy in making food for others, followed by the simple act of sitting and eating together. True communion.

Looking at the ingredients was perhaps more of a challenge. We have become a bit removed from the cultivation and  production of food. It was almost impossible to think about who had grown and processed the spices that went into a jar of curry powder.

At the end of the evening there was a flurry of activity as people tried to get their favourite recipe from its originator. Clutching recipes and at least one key ingredient we finished the evening heading off to contemplate cooking the food and sharing it with others.


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