Groanings too Deep for Words

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Yesterday.

A funeral. Of a friends child.

Lost to us in circumstances unbearably tragic.

Words cannot express.

Later in the day.

A moment of solitude in the car.

The grief, the weight, the groaning, crowds in on me.

How to pray? There is no way to fix this, to soften death’s harsh blow.

So I sit

In the silence.

And in the groaning too deep for words.

Holding the unspeakable before God.

Crumpled there, crushed under its weight

Resting there, pressed by the weight of His His presence.

Grateful for the Holy Spirit

Who intercedes for us in our weakness.

With groanings too deep for words.

Maranatha, come Lord Jesus.

Celebrating Abraham Madrandele

Last Saturday we had a celebration at the Vine for our beloved Abraham. He was experiencing two major milestones in his life. Turning sixty, and finally acquiring his Canadian citizenship. The party was a Canadian theme, as you may guess from the pictures.

The other goal for our gathering was to raise funds for Abraham’s ongoing support as a urban missionary to Hamilton, and also his upcoming visit to South Africa to visit his son, Isaac, who he has not seen for 13 very long years.

The highlight of the evening was the open mic time, where person after person came up to the front and shared testimonies about how Abraham had welcomed and encouraged them, come alongside them, trained them in leadership, brought life and vitality to their various ministries. The scriptures say that we have many teachers, but not many fathers, and it was a beautiful thing to see Abrahams fathering grace on display as his children rose up and called him blessed.

Here is a video you can watch that shares more about Abraham’s life and ministry.

Pastor from Congo

If you didn’t get a chance to join us on Saturday and would like to support Abraham, you can donate online here.

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FeltIlluminations: Rooted and Grounded

Yesterday I went to Spun Fibre Arts in Burlington to spend some birthday money. I found some beautiful merino/silk blends, that create a lovely sheen when you felt them into a project. I also found some specialty wool that looks like felting dreadlocks! So interesting and inspiring to work with.

I went back home and happily immersed myself in felting. Much to my dismay, I was so engrossed in the task that I forgot to pick up my housemate Mary from her course!

“I’m soooo sorry,” I grovelled, twenty minutes late.

“This is the first time you’ve been late for anything. It’s a good sign.” Was her gracious response.

It is a good sign, actually. I’m having so much fun engaged in the creative process. And I think it’s bringing a better balance of work/play, which will aid me on my quest for long term sustainability in urban mission.

I’ve called my Etsy store FeltIlluminations. The ancient monastics, as they copied the Scriptures, would illustrate them as they went along. These illustrations were called illuminations. So I’m reinventing an ancient monastic tradition, with felt!

My latest piece is called “Rooted and Grounded,” based on one of Paul’s prayers in Ephesians that I love and have prayed over people thousands of times since the inception of GOHOP.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.~ Ephesians 3:14-17

I do so love how creative ideas evolve. I just started wanting to is illustrate some tree roots, but along the way it evolved into a gracious dancing woman!

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GOHOP as a Womb (With a View!)

“Here’s the space we would like you to use for the prayer room,” our friend Val opened the door, and then stepped aside so we could enter. Crossroads ministries is going to give you use of it for free! Fantastic, eh?”

We looked around at the cavernous space. It was black. Black walls. Black Stage. Heavy black theatrical curtain separating us from the mail room. (Poor mail room, they had to listen to all our singing for seven years!). The space had previously been used for theatre, but now it was ours to try and build towards night and day prayer.

“Looks kinda like a womb,” someone remarked.

“Yeah, but it’s a womb with a view!” I quipped.

Interestingly enough, over the years GOHOP has functioned as a womb of sorts. Many seeds of vision being inseminated by the Holy Spirit. Many people being enlarged in the waiting. Labour and groaning as we brought things to birth.

One of our early staff launched from GOHOP into a career working with at risk youth. Another early volunteer credits the prayer room as being a place where she got a measure of healing and restoration, then vision for serving God, and then launched Into ministry. Several ministries, in fact, have found their genesis at GOHOP.

In this season where we seem to be working with lots of young leaders, we are deliberately leaning into this incubating grace that God has given us.

We are a womb. Smallish. Warm. Nurturing.

But we are a womb with a view. A vision for outside the prayer room. For partnering with God as he brings forth His purposes in Hamilton and beyond.

Several years ago, every woman in our small group was pregnant. We had a hoot lining them up on the couch and balancing coffee cups on their burgeoning bellies.

“Kiiiirk, everybody else is pregnant!” I whined. “I’ve still got a couple of childbearing years in me yet!”

“Don’t drink the water!” He was firm.

So if you haven’t come to GOHOP yet, I just want to invite you. Come hang out in the prayer room. And come and drink the water ;o)

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Creativity – Felting Workshop

I’ve been trying to cultivate more creativity in my life, and today I spent the day doing a felting workshop at Sue Firkser Design. Sue is a fabulous textile artist who hospitably opens her Dundas studio to felting newbies like myself.

I love felt. It’s very forgiving. Textile art, in my mind, is art for dummies ~ meaning me. Artists like Sue take thing to a whole other level, but really it’s hard for beginners to go wrong. The wool itself is so lovely, so full of shape, movement and color, that really all I find myself doing is making space for the textiles to express themselves.

Here’s the studio, and one of Sue’s felt loving cats. And a fabulous jacket that Sue made from felt and silk. And two of the three pieces I worked on, under Sue’s expert tutelage, over the course of the day. The needlefelted piece I’m calling “like an apple tree”. I took pictures of various stages of the wet felting piece, which I’m calling “deep unto deep”, so you could see how you layer and lay out the wool, and then what it looks like when it is wet felted.

I’ve also opened an etsy shop, FeltIlluminations, where you can buy my work if you wish! Profits (after cost of materials) will go towards GOHOP’s Urban Missions in Hamilton.

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Decluttering as Spiritual Practice

I’ve been more intentional these days about solitude and silence, and integrating these spiritual practices into my daily rhythms. While I was on pilgrimage I became more intensely aware of my need for solitude, and often snuck away to be alone. Life in urban missions and living in an intentional community can make you crowded on the inside, and I needed to do some de-cluttering.

Flylady is an online house management coach, and one of her home management techniques is the 15 minute tidy. Pick an area of your house that needs attention, be it de cluttering or cleaning, set a timer for 15 minutes, and go to it!

I have found this technique really helpful for attending to the needs of my home, but also attending to the needs of my soul. When I get up in the morning, I make a beeline for my prayer chair. There sits my journal, waiting for me. I spend 15 minutes (roughly three pages worth), journaling whatever is going on in my little brain. In a popular course on creativity, the Artists Way, Julia Cameron calls this type of journaling the morning pages and emphasizes their importance in “find(ing) our own quiet centre, the place where we hear the still small voice that is at once our creator’s and our own.”. Daily journaling helps me to attend to what the deep places of my heart wants to say. And to what God wants to say to me.

After my morning pages, I put my journal down, light a candle, and turn off the lights. Ruth Haley Barton, in her book Invitation to Solitude and Silence, says “for me, lighting a candle is a powerful symbol of the reality of the Holy Spirit present with me in my times of solitude. Ever since the Holy Spirit rested on the heads of the apostles as tongues of fire in Acts 2, the flame has been a Christian symbol of Christ’s ongoing presence with us through the Spirit.”

In the quiet and in the flickering shadows spun by candlelight, I pick a simple phrase that feels like a deeply honest thing to say to God. Sometimes it’s “Come, Lord Jesus”. Right now I’m lingering on the phrase “Christ as a light, illumine and guide me.. I spend 15 minutes just breathing, just looking at the flame, invoking the presence of Jesus in my prayer, and resting in that space. 15 minutes may not feel like much, but consistency is more important than extended times and over the long haul will her much fruit.

When I’m done, I feel like my soul has been de-cluttered, space made for the Divine Presence, and then I can step into the rigours of my daily responsibilities.

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