Lent – A time to give up something

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Today is Ash Wednesday and Lent is now upon us – what have you
given up?

Some give up chocolate, alcohol, sweets …. a whole range of things.

Why? well not normally because they are religious, but usually because they want to practice a bit of self control or because it is a way of naming a time when they get get a bit healthier. All of these things are of value – a bit of self control and a healthy lifestyle are always welcome.

Those who try and shape their life around Jesus will know that Lent is the period when we remember the temptations of Jesus. He spent 40 days in the wilderness (desert) where it is told that he was tempted by the devil to either follow him or to win people over like some kind of superhero.

Jesus had none of it, and it was in the desert that he decided the kind of man he was going to be and the kind of life he was going to live. Our reading of the stories of Jesus suggests that he was a lively, vibrant, life giving, life loving, party animal who lived with extravagant and outrageous generosity.

We want to do the same …

It’s difficult because there aren’t that many of us and we are all really busy, but we do meet every Sunday afternoon for a couple of hours and we want to use that time in Lent to practise this way of life with more intensity. So this year, for every Sunday in Lent, we are going to make soup and bread, spend some time in worship whilst its cooking, and then eat it!

and if anyone, anywhere, is hungry in Kidsgrove on Sunday afternoon you are welcome to join us – no cost – free food!

and if anyone, anywhere fancies a bit of company in KIdsgrove on Sunday afternoon you are welcome to join us – no cost – free friends!

So if you fancy some soup on Sunday – join us at 3pm

We’ve decided to give up being selfish – lets see how we do.

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Whispering

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The blogs been a bit quiet since Christmas partly because we are slow starters – it takes us a while to get going when we’ve had a break, but also because we have had to slow down a little in order to hear a lot.

It’s probably helpful to have a bit of background (but not too much – it’s dull!) immerse came into being about 18 months ago when a number of different people, most of whom had some connection in the past, came together. We began to meet in September 2012 in the old Methodist Church building in Kidsgrove (we now call it Kidsgrove Central). This building is not ours, it belongs to the Methodist Church (immerse is part of the Methodist family) and they have been good enough to let us live there rent free and to treat the place as our own.

We’ve had a great time in the last 12 months! We’ve ripped out the pews and made the place more useful, we’ve housed homeless people, a Victorian Market, Craft Fairs, Slimming World and The Tent – our weekly gathering. It is also the space we use for our art installation, coffee bar and helping make the world a better place! Those are just the highlights – in the last 18 months we have been really busy and we have loved it. If you fancy changing the world – we’re the kind of crowd you should be hanging out with!

But there is a big BUT …. A leak has developed in the church that is causing massive damage and during the high winds over Christmas part of the chimney collapsed into the roof causing more damage. That is on top of the costs needed to make the building far more accessible and useful for other things. We are a small community who have managed to get ourselves caught up in the Jesus revolution (if you don’t know what that is – you should) but we have few resources. So we are going to have to make some decisions.

The BUT gets bigger …. We also have some responsibility for The Galley Community Centre which, due to cuts in county council budgets and the difficulty of voluntary groups raising money to pay room hire is also struggling to keep afloat.

The BUT gets even bigger …. It seems likely, though we hope a better solution can be found, that The Daycare Centre in Kidsgrove will close leaving many local adults with learning difficulties without the proper facilities for them and their families to thrive.

If, then, we cannot keep Kidsgrove Central and/or The Galley Centre open, and if The Day Care Centre does close ….. That’s a lot of social capital for one small town to lose in quick succession! The consequences could be really significant for Kidsgrove.

So here is what we are not going to do:

immerse is not giving up on the Jesus revolution – we are in this for the long haul
immerse is not leaving Kidsgrove – this is our home
immerse is not going to put a big thermometer outside the church and tell you how much money we need to save the roof! It’s just not our style.

So what are we going to do?

It’s simple – we are giving February over to a period of listening, discerning, reflecting, figuring out. We are going to create some contemplative prayer spaces where we can spend time …. Thinking! We have a strange notion that there is a God who, rather than shouts at you from a roof top, whispers little things in your ear when you’re thinking about other stuff. So we are going to think and listen out for whispers.

You can come and join us if you like, every Sunday afternoon in February at 3pm at Kidsgrove Central. Or you might have heard a whisper yourself, if so, share it with us, either comment on here or visit our Facebook Page or tweet us @immerseC

We have no idea what the future looks like, but we have a hunch that it’s going to be a crazy ride ….

….. You up for it?

Great Christingle.

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This afternoon we had a beautiful Christingle shared with David Speed (superintendent of the Kidsgrove Circuit) and lots of family and friends. The service itself was ….

Well …

… Normal for immerse – hectic, a little mad, and from the heart. Afterwards people stuck around, chatted and then went on to celebrate Christmas with family and friends.

It was just as Christmas celebrations should be – honest, gritty and full of joy.

We want to thank Tesco (Kidsgrove) who kindly donated all the produce needed to make up 40 Christingles – a truly community affair.

You can see some of the photo’s from today on our Facebook page. Go and have a look and please do like the page.

http://www.facebook.com/Ikidsgrove

Immerse is taking a bit of time out over Christmas – we are starting back again on Sunday 5th January at 3pm at Kidsgrove Central.

So for now – we pray that you have an awe-some, peaceful, fun-filled and blessed time this Christmas.

Be gentle with yourself and true to those who love you.

Merry Christmas.

immerse Christingle

 

Christmas is a real rush and often we feel the weight of expectation on us. ‘will they like their presents?’; ‘will the christmas dinner be ok?’; ‘will we have enough money to pay for it all?’

It can sometimes sem a lot of worry and lot of money for one day!

But Christmas can be a time to reset the clock and to begin to re-imagine what life might be for. It’s a moment when love, joy, peace, wonder and awe come colliding together to give feelings of warmth and generosity, and a desire to do good and be with others.

This year immerse has decided to do a Christingle – they are beautiful services that are quite traditional (at least for us!) but seem to hold on to that timeless sense of hope and joy that invades our lives at Christmas time. We would love you to come to our Christingle at Kidsgrove Central on Sunday 22nd December from 3pm till about 4:30pm. If you are rushed off your feet, if you are feeling stressed then carve out just enough time to join us.

Make a space:

for family,

for beauty,

for joy,

for wonder,

for The young ‘un ….

…. who changed the world.

You can also see out nativity scene and enjoy some great coffee (although our Hot Chocolate is perfect for the Christmas season!) as our facebook event page says:

 

Hi all:) I know it’s a crazy time of year- but I just wanted to invite you to ‘the immerse’ christingle & carols (with cafe revival) It’s a time to chill and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas with friends and family. Have a wonderful Christmas and a mighty blessed 2014:) xxx

 

Waiting for an angel …

Every Christmas we like to produce an art installation that begins to open up the traditional nativity story. This year it is called Waiting for an angel. more pictures to follow but here is a bit of a description for now.

If you want to come and have a peek we will be open Saturday 14th 10 am-3pm and on Sunday 3pm -5pm.

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Here at immerse we are fascinated with equivalence. We don’t take ancient narratives and force them into our post-modern context but we do hope to explore what their equivalence would be today. As we thought about the odd couple – the (probably) older man and the (probably) younger woman, we began to wonder where we might locate their story today. Would it be in a shed? A hospital? A squat?

It seems this couple lived far from the town where they grew up; when they did come home because of government decree they were not welcome. Ties had been broken; a taboo, an embarrassment in the family as dysfunctional as most families today! Anyone who has worked with and spoken to homeless people often hear of a fractured home life and torn relationships. Perhaps the equivalence is homelessness?

If you google ‘homeless pregnancies and births’ we are sure, like us, that you will be horrified at the number of stories on-line. How is it that in the 21st Century it is still possible for women to be in such danger at such a vulnerable time? Why are we satisfied that this happens in our world, in our streets? It is a scandal that is often never uncovered because women and pregnancy falls outside of the dominant culture of war, greed and selfishness. To give birth is an ultimate act of self-giving, of complete otherness where one becomes two.

More horrifying are the number of stories of homeless women who give birth and are diagnosed with a variety of mental health illnesses. Not only are these women at their most vulnerable, they are set within a category that is stigmatised by the masses. Homeless – Pregnant – with Mental Health. And as a society we feel the best place for them to be is on the street?

Imagine a woman tells you she was visited in the night by a heavenly being and it made her pregnant? What would our conclusions be? This mad, pregnant woman who can’t stay at home because of the government but is not welcome back with the family because of disagreement gives birth here, in the street. Perhaps someone will hear of her child? Take pity on them? If not then the future does not hold much hope for this poor family. If the child can only make it to adulthood he might stand a chance; but for him to get that far will depend on the strength and determination of his mother. Perhaps, if this child can live long enough to become a man – he might help her discover liberation so that she is restored to the fullness she deserves. But not yet, for now she is his only chance. And if all her mad mumblings are true – this child might be one to watch out for.

But for now …

We hope she finds an Angel

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Christmas Carols

In the darkest place ... the brightest light
In the darkest place … the brightest light

Come and join us this Sunday (8th December) for some traditional carols and beautiful coffee – and you really need to try our hot chocolate!

The Carol Service is always a beautiful moment in the life of any Christian Community. It carves out space for us to connect with an ancient story that brings about transformation and hope.

Christmas Carols always bring about a sense of nostalgia and often a ‘fuzzy’ mixed up feeling of joy, excitement and love. Come and share with us as we make our way towards Bethlehem and witness again the extra-ordinary in our midst. The birth of a child who should never have been … but was.

A world changer

Sunday 8th December 2013, 6pm, Kidsgrove Central.

At a loose end this Saturday?

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If you’re around Kidsgrove this weekend why not pop into the Town Hall and Kidsgrove Central (the old Methodist Church) for the Victorian Market.

Up at The Town Hall there will be lots of trade stalls, down at Kidsgrove Central we have 16 charity stalls and 10 craft stalls. So do come along – you might find the perfect Christmas present.

Oh – and the famous Cafe Revival will be serving luscious lattes, Cappuccinos, mochas, hot chocolates and americanos all day (I suppose you could have a tea too.)

Go on ….. You know you want to.

Balikbayan box – update.

A quick update about our Philippine project that we talked about here

Firstly, I can confirm that Forex Cargo are going to ship anything we collect out to the Philippines for us on 8th December. They are doing a great job and we are so delighted that they are doing this and that we can get our shipment in with theirs to go to the Philippine Red Cross.

So we need to get all the boxes sent off to them by Wednesday evening/Thursday morning in order to give them time to pack them ready for shipping. So we will be open at Kidsgrove Central (the old Methodist Church) at the following times:

Monday 2nd December from 10am till 2pm and 6pm – 8pm

Tuesday 3rd December from 10am till 2pm and 6pm – 8pm

Wednesday 4th December from 10am till 12noon.

If you have anything from our list here that you would like to donate to help rebuild the Philippines then please drop them off at the above time (we will even throw in a free coffee!)

Balikbayan Box – A Kidsgrove response

I am sure that you have all seen and heard of the absolute horror in the Philippines because of the destructive power of the Super Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda). You just need to see the pictures of Tacloban here to see the complete destruction of cities, towns, villages and human life. According to the BBC website:

Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 4,000 people when it tore into the Philippines on 8 November.
The UN estimates around 11 million people have been affected by the storm.

Here at Immerse we thought it would be a great idea to try to help the Filipino people but in a way that actually embraces their culture too. The idea we have is to put together Balikbayan boxes with items that they can use to help rebuild their country,

What is a Balikbayan box?

Well it is a Filipino custom –  when someone has left the country to look for work abroad or are just living abroad & studying they often send home a box of goodies to their families. you can read more about it here  

So this is our plan – we want to get as many local people to make up and bring Balikbayan boxes to Kidsgrove Central during the week beginning 1st December. We want organisations, schools, businesses, families, individuals – anyone really! to make up a box and drop it off to us. Keep your eye on this site for an update when we will have times and dates that you can drop the boxes off at Kidsgrove Central (The old Methodist Church in Kidsgrove) we will then arrange for them to be dropped off with a distributor who will take them to the Philippines Red Cross. These are the kinds of items we are looking for:

  • Tin can foods,
  • Rice,
  • Clothing, footwear,
  • batteries,
  • flash lights,
  • AM/FM radio,
  • Tarps, tents, camping gear, portable shelters,
  • Cooking utensils,
  • Over the counter medicines,
  • Toys,
  • School supplies,
  • Books,
  • Gardening tools to plan food,
  • Fishing equipment,
  • Used computers for schools,
  • Used home and office equipment,
  • Building materials,
  • Building equipment,

The Mayor of Kidsgrove, Kyle Robinson, is working with us and together we will be writing to local businesses and schools in Kidsgrove to see if we can muster up as much support as possible. It will be amazing that a small town in North Staffordshire can make such a difference to people on the other side of the world.

So this is our question for you: are you ready to make a difference?