Archive for the ‘The art of love made known’ Category

lessons in beautiful transparency

Friday, August 4th, 2017

At the suggestion of one of our pray-ers, we’ve created a rather special, gift resource for you. It’s a souvenir and thanksgiving offering to celebrate our time at our first base, and to share the testimony of how God used a window to beckon us into greater bravery and train us in the art of how to communicate the gospel in beautifully transparent ways

we’re taking flight

Monday, July 24th, 2017

The Sanctuary’s time being based at our first physical home – 6 Church Street, Ilkley – is coming to an end, following us giving twelve months notice to leave the space this time last year. We’ll be taking flight on 31 August as another step towards creating a new base of our own and adjusting our current, public access model. And so we’re using these last few weeks of having our shop-front windows onto the A65 to begin sharing thank yous and goodbyes for the five years of generous hospitality given to us by All Saints Church…

To do this, we’ve brought together elements from two previous windows – created for Yorkshire Day 2015 and New Year 2016 – featuring the work of our two most talented artists – Alison Hodson and Barbara Macnish.

What better to say what we want to over this year’s Yorkshire Day (1 August) and as we prepare to enter another new season on the Sanctuary’s journey.

The text on the window reads:

“We’re taking flight!

We’ve loved sharing our prayers and creations with you through this space.

Thank you for having us All Saints Church! And goodbye and God bless to all our neighbours and passers by.”

It is then signed by the principal members of ‘team window’ – Jill, Liz, Alison and Barbara – on behalf of everyone at the Sanctuary.

It’s accompanied in our other window, by another goose and the following information, expressing our desire to say three things to every one local to our first base:

Thank you to:

  • All Saints Church for giving us rent-free use of this building for five years. 6 Church Street has been a huge blessing to us – and countless others – because of many of your members’ great generosity. We pray that everything that happens in this space after we leave – and your forthcoming wider building project – will continue to bless many people with the greatest gift we all have to share. Though we are of course deeply sad that your future plans no longer involve us, we remain deeply grateful for all you have given us.
  • everyone who has smiled at our windows, joined us to pray, got involved with our work, given us money, time, resources or talent or prayed for us during our time here.
  • our brilliant God – for his unchanging, unqualified and unequaled love and generosity.

See you soon!

We’ll still be based locally and so you’ll still see us out and about in Ilkley – and other towns and cities in the area – with our creative work. But we’re changing our model, as well as our address. So this is still a goodbye in terms of us having a constant high street presence.

(Although our prayer, resourcing and creative work aren’t changing, we’re no longer going to be offering public access to them all. Instead, we’re planning to build a small, studio base of our own at one of our members’ houses where we can all gather and work out of.)

God bless

Ilkley – we’ve loved sharing our creations with you and praying for you every day from this space. We’re going to miss being a part of your every day life but we’ll still be praying for you and sharing things with you. God bless the whole of you – every person and every inch – with a deeper knowledge of Jesus’ presence, which will never leave or forsake you.

We’re planning to work with landlords and councils going forward to make use of multiple, empty shop-fronts so this isn’t the end of our window work – but for this last of our first windows, the main team of creatives involved all got together to celebrate the journey of the last five years and raise a toast to the glass that has helped train them in this art of communicating the gospel in beautifully transparent ways:

 

the little clay bird is flying far and wide!

Friday, July 7th, 2017

It’s been wonderful to see scores of copies of The Little Clay Bird flying out from our window-dispenser since we put up our final story window at 6 Church Street a couple of weeks ago. And we’re hoping this brilliant coverage in the local paper will spread the word – and the story – even further!

sharing the little clay bird’s story

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Then no, ow, OW! What was that awful scraping? He wanted to take the potter to task, who did he think he was making?! More slip tears squeezed from his little clay eyes as each tiny chisel caught him by surprise. Prodded and poked from every seeming direction, what had he done to deserve such destruction? The potter paused, he felt every tear and he held the little clay bird very, very near. And he whispered so gently, “this won’t take forever, but to fly you must have your beautiful feathers.”

The Little Clay Bird is a poignantly beautiful short story for all ages, written in rhyming prose, which explores one aspect of the relationship between ‘maker’ and ‘made’.

From the little clay bird’s perspective, things look bleak and he constantly doubts his sculptor’s affection for him whilst he is being formed. But the Potter – and increasingly the reader too – is in no doubt that this creation process is a labour of deeply focused love which will ultimately lead to something so good, the little bird can’t even quite imagine it.

We’re thrilled to be sharing it with you, and also to be bringing it to life as an art installation for the next month or so, as our last story window at 6 Church Street – offering passers by the chance to take a printed copy from our window-mounted dispenser too:


Special thanks to:

• our author, Liz Baddaley for giving us permission to share the story of The Little Clay Bird with you.

• our photographer and bird sculptor, Barbara Macnish for all her beautiful and brilliant work.

• our bunting shaper: Emily Tysoe for spending a mucky morning creating our template and organising help from…

Create Café (Victorian Arcade, Ilkley) for kindly lending us some of their pre-painted items to furnish our ‘potter’s studio’.


If you live anywhere near Ilkley, you can enjoy painting any of the biscuit items featured in our window (excepting the little clay bird himself!)  and more at Create Cafe’s brilliant premises this summer. To find out more, visit their website or call 01943 817788.

But wherever you live, our prayer is you’ll be blessed and inspired by the little clay bird’s story and the potter’s extraordinary love.

 

GE2017 – ready-to-send love

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Last week we shared how prayer and discussion had led us to see the general election as a gift of opportunity – and the plans we were putting in motion to bless every candidate with an encouraging message of love that also spoke up for others who need courage and love. We promised you we’d share as much as we can in case you want to write to your own candidates too, so this blog is to do that:

Over the last week we’ve been crafting these cards, writing a bespoke message to each candidate in response to positive experience and achievements in their bios, continuing to pray for each one by name, and putting together a joint letter to them all to speak up for the most vulnerable in our society – and the kind of nation the UK could be.

We can’t share the personal messages we hand wrote in each YOU ARE LOVED card because they are specific to the individual candidates’ personal details and wouldn’t help you craft yours in any case.

But we found a bespoke way to thank each and every candidate for standing up publically, acknowledge the inevitable personal cost of doing so, assure them of our prayers and affirm everything in their record which showed their skill and/or track record of standing up for vulnerable people and important issues.

And we told them they are loved and valued by every one of us – whether we’re voting for them or not.

We also told them that we’d agonised over including the letter alongside the card because we just wanted to affirm them at such a stressful time, but that this election was too key not to also raise others who we are praying for – and value so deeply – too.

Here is the text we included in the text to that letter, in case you would like to lift it into something similar of your own to your candidates:

“Dear Ros, David, John, Kris, Paul and Matt,

As candidates in this general election – happening at such a key time in our nation’s history – we wanted to write to you as a praying community seeking to champion the value of each and every one in seven billion people alive today. We feel it’s a vital time to stand up for the kind of nation we want to be and to ensure that the most vulnerable in our world, nation and community are prioritised alongside everyone else.

To that end, we’re sharing this brief list of the issues that feel most important to all of us – no matter which party we are each voting for – for our next government (and whoever of you is elected to parliament) to address. We’ve not included much information; we know you will be deluged, but have bracketed at least one expert and trusted organisation’s website after each one so you can find out more if you want:

Global issues

National issues

Thank you so much for your time. God bless you all,

The Sanctuary’s praying community”

GE2017 – a gift of opportunity

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Those of us who gather to pray together at the Sanctuary come from widely different backgrounds. But there are some characteristics present in us all. Top of that list is having been so captivated by God’s love for us and every one in seven billion, we are now heaven-bent on embodying that love, as well as making it known.

In other words we’re constantly engaged with making a difference to the world – we’re daily praying and acting in response to headlines, issues of injustice and  community events. So when several of our pray-ers responded to a call to pray about the election with what can only be described as a kind of spiritual exhaustion, it was indicative of the wider atmosphere in our nation…

When the forthcoming snap election was announced last month, the news reports contained interviews with a number of people who expressed a sense of being ‘sick’ of politics… one woman was quoted again and again as saying there was ‘too much politics’.

Media, commentators and comedians have carried on this tone. It’s not so much election fever as election malaise. We know we have to engage with this election – we know how important it is; how crucial for determining not just the course of action ahead of our nation with respect to Brexit and other key issues, but perhaps for even defining what kind of nation we want to be.

We know.

And yet…

There is a palpable weariness.

Even among many of the most engaged.

But it’s vital we turn apathy to opportunity.

Everyone in our nation needs prayer to rise above the sense of heaviness, and to be told that there is hope – resilient, abiding, certain hope.

People standing for election need prayer for protection and need to be told that they are loved and appreciated for who they are in the face of an often gruelling ordeal which, for most of them – whether you agree with their policies and ideology or not – comes out of a desire to stand up for something they believe to be for the common good.

And candidates and parties need to be given help in shaping vision – not just lobbied on pet policies – of the kind of country we could be.

There are many ways to do the above. You will be praying and acting into them already.

But, in case it’s helpful for stimulating further prayer, ideas and actions, having wrestled passed that tiredness, and listened for what God was laying on our hearts, here’s how we’re seeking to respond to the opportunity GE2017 presents us to share God’s love and courageously stand for his priorities.

  1. First of all we’re seeking to share hope with everyone we engage in – not vague or politically based hope, but sure and certain Jesus hope. We’re doing this through prayer, in the tone of our conversations and resources and through sharing an art installation in the window of our current premises.
  2. Secondly, we’re praying for our nation and urging everyone in our national and global prayer network to continue to do the same at this crucial time. So we’re investing our time in writing communications like this one, and in creating prayers like Anchor us Lord so that we all remain focused on God’s heart throughout this process.
  3. Thirdly, we’re creating a special card for each of the six local candidates standing in our area and sending them a message of love, appreciation of the costs of standing for public office, and assurance of our prayers. At a time when most of what comes at them is demands, comparisons, polling pressure and criticism, we want to speak en-courage-ment and grace – no matter what their political stance is, or whether any of our pray-ers are likely to vote for them or not.
  4. And lastly, after much wrestling prayer and discussion, despite us feeling that item three is a huge priority for us – to proactive love those who many in our community will not at this time – we’re including a folded up letter in their cards which also speaks up for others we love; most especially the poor and vulnerable.

We’re going to be honest with them, sharing that we agonised about whether to include this because we want the main message they receive from us to be about them, but that we felt this election was too crucial not to speak up for who and what we believe Jesus is leading us to champion.

Because – as we said above – this election is about who we want to be as a nation as we enter Brexit negotiations, redefine law and much more. It is about choosing a character as well as a course.

We’d love you to join us in seeking to speak and embody hope – especially Jesus-rooted hope – at this time where there is such a pervasive sense of drifting and uncertainty.

We’d love you to keep praying with us for the nation at this vital time.

But can we also go one further, and ask you to think about joining us in finding a way to express honest words of appreciation and love to all your candidates? And to consider enclosing something alongside this that speaks up for the voiceless to them with love and respect – something that voices a larger, kingdom-inspired vision for who our nation could be.

You will have your own list of policies you feel are vital, but we are choosing to highlight serving the global poor, protecting vulnerable groups within our own nation and caring for the environment well – and doing this by referring to the specific recommendations made by the following, trusted expert organisations in reference to this election.

  1. Christian Aid
  2. Tearfund
  3. Traidcraft
  4. Age UK
  5. Shelter
  6. The Children’s Society
  7. The Wildlife Trusts
  8. Friends of the Earth

Next week, once we’ve put our own communications to our own candidates together, we’ll share a bit more of the visuals for their card, the tone of the message we write, and the text we’re developing in case you want to use that more directly.

But whatever you do, we’re praying for you – and us –  to keep receiving God’s hope, love, vision and courage to see GE2017 as an opportunity – an opportunity to share his hope, love, vision and courage even wider.

For his sake, his kingdom’s sake, the UK’s sake and the sake of every one in seven billion he so loves. Amen.

 

anchor-strong hope

Monday, May 15th, 2017

We’re thrilled to be sharing this visible, joyful representation of the anchor-strong hope we have – especially in the light of so much uncertainty in our nation surrounding Brexit and the upcoming general election, as well as the personal situations of so many individuals who will come past the Sanctuary’s base over the next few days and weeks.


Inspired by Hebrews 6:19, our under-water writing proclaims a rock solid reality to rely on:

“There is a hope so strong it’s an anchor for our restless souls…

… a constant, life-line connection to eternal, immovable Love.

It’s sure and steadfast – it can’t be broken or weakened, even when the seas get rough and the storms throw their very worst at us.

Still then, this anchor-hope holds firm and true.

His name is Jesus.”

As so often at the Sanctuary, what God reveals to us in prayer to share with others is also vital and life-giving truth to cling onto ourselves.

And right now, as the Sanctuary faces a season of transition where we move towards a new base and new ways of working, we’re glad of this reminder too!

It is Jesus who is our fixed point and home… and it is the inner sanctuary of communion with him that is our best and permanent dwelling place.

Our prayer is that many people will find hope as a result of seeing this art installation – and that all of us in the Sanctuary’s praying community (especially locally) will do the same!

 

his-story window

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

For weeks, an author, an artist, two theological editors, one scientific editor and a total practical whizz have been squirreled away working together on this joy-bringing project. And today, we finally finished bringing it to life! So here it is; our Easter window – turning both panes of our picture window into an open his-story book, featuring the story of everything… with the cross where it belongs, right at the very centre.

We’re so excited about sharing this with thousands of people over the coming few weeks, and about the Easter cards we’re making featuring it for people to help themselves to from the dispenser on our door from later on this week onwards…

If you can’t zoom in on it all, here’s the text:

“In the beginning, there was cosmic sound.

Light, then life, burst out: expanding, multiplying….

The author spoke; God’s voice started his-story. And it was good!

God loves every person he creates. He doesn’t control them. (Love coerced is not love.)

But freedom has consequences. We often reject God’s best ideas for our inter-twining stories.

We try to write our own destinies – to make it our story.

More consequences; self-centred sub-plots always lead to pain, injustice and death for someone… eventually, for everyone.

 

Selfishness was our choice; not God’s.

He chose to save us from ourselves, to restore his-story by writing himself into our broken stories as Jesus.

He used his freedom perfectly – to bring life to everyone.

We killed him for it. But his nail-pierced hands had always planned to carry our selfishness and its consequences. …

No story can hold its own author in a grave…

JESUS IS ALIVE!

His plot is scandalously generous: a new beginning if we only believe and receive God’s gift…

Trade your story for his, and live the freedom you were created for – a life that brings life.

Afterwards? There’s a bigger story waiting; with no more disastrous sub-plots.

That’s why Easter matters.

But the choice remains… his-story or yours?”

Special thanks to Liz Baddaley, Alison Helliwell-Hodson, Kevin Macnish, Fiona Schneider, Jill Andrews, Katherine England and Barbara Macnish for all their help.

celebrating fairtrade with Mervis

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Over the last few weeks, our team, including artist Barbara Macnish, have been pouring hours into preparing what we think may even be the world’s first piece of art painted on tea-bags! It was all done for love; we wanted to help thousands of people think about the people who really bring them their tea, and to consider choosing Fairtrade as a result…

This creative act – and the time lavished on preparing it and its setting – has been a celebration of God’s image in Mervis Kejinga, the tea-picker from Satemwa, Malawi who features in it. And just a small reflection of his love for her and his desire for her voice, and story, to be heard.

As Barbara herself said, she could never create something as beautiful as God did when he designed and made the real Mervis!


We are all connected. And every product we buy is brought to us because of people. It has  real people with real lives hidden behind it. And if we saw them face to face, knew their names and understood just how much their struggles and triumphs are connected to our lives, we might well choose to use our purchasing power differently:


If you want to find out more about how this incredible piece of art was created, scroll further on in the blog…

Because for now, we want to share the story we’re trying to tell with Mervis’ help with you…

Who brings you your tea? Hopefully it’s someone like Mervis…

Because Mervis works on the Satemwa tea estate in Malawi, which has been Fairtrade certified since 2007.

So much has changed here in just 10 years, that there’s not room on these tea-bags to tell you all the good news. But here are some of the  highlights…

Fair pay for picking tea means the children here now go to school and parents can buy nutritious food, proper shelter and basic furniture; some families have started a small business or bought a radio, mobile, goat or bicycle!

And together, the community have funded amazing things like a maternity wing, a fresh water supply for 4,500 people, new classrooms, safe roads, solar powered electricity for 1,100 houses, mosquito nets, malaria drugs …

Ordinary things you’d expect hard working people like Mervis to be able to afford – but which they actually  couldn’t if people like you weren’t buying Fairtrade tea.

Currently, buying certified tea is the ONLY way to ensure the people picking your tea are paid enough to live on…and in some places – such as Assam in India, it is the ONLY way you can help protect desperate tea-pickers from saying yes to people traffickers who promise to give their daughters a better future.

So, please remember Mervis when you shop, and look for the Fairtrade symbol on the tea and other products you buy:

So how did we end up painting Mervis onto tea-bags? And how was it possible?

During times of prayer at the Sanctuary, around both trade and trafficking issues, there had been a sense that we wanted to create an art installation that spoke up for the people behind some of the products we buy, and to connect people passing our current premises with these real individuals, and the risks and challenges they can often face.

Again in prayer, the idea came to one of our co-founders, Liz Baddaley, to focus on tea, trade and trafficking… and to create a canvas out of tea-bags on which a tea-picker could be lovingly painted.

So she asked one of our artists – Barbara Macnish – if this would be possible, and if she would be willing to generously give her time, love and skill, to serve the people behind our products in this way.

Barabara said yes… and so Liz made her first visit to a timber yard(!),  acquired a 1m x 1.2m piece of mdf board, and then stapled more than 300 Fairtrade Clipper tea bags on to it in preparation for Barabara to begin painting…

Then, Barbara built up layers of tissue paper into a kind of papier-mache sculpted surface on top of the tea-bags, ready to paint Mervis on to this. If you look closely you’ll also see that some of the braiding in Mervis’ hair was then ‘painted’ with tea itself. Mixed media art at its finest – wow!

We then had further fun as a team, designing and crafting original bunting and information posters using a photo of a clipper tea-bag as our base design… and hanging just a bit of crockery to add the finishing touches!

Thank you so much Barbara Macnish for all your hard and loving work, Mervis Kejinga for being willing to share your image, name and story with the Fairtrade Foundation and Martine Parry and everyone else at the Foundation for their help and permissions…

Thank you also – as always – to God, for the ideas and inspiration to share his love in new ways as we intercede with him… and to Liz for having the guts to say yes and run with overseeing yet another slightly crazy project all for love.

Our prayer is that everyone who sees this window, and the artwork from it in the media and social media, and in further exhibition spaces in the future, will be connected to the infinite value of the people behind the products they buy…


If you’d like to join us in prayer for economic justice and fair trade, please visit the search by issue index page of our online worship resources library to find songs, written prayers and creative ideas to help you.

putting our hearts out there…

Monday, February 13th, 2017

At the Sanctuary, 14 February has become our favourite day of the year! Because showering our town with love is a really fun way for us to celebrate and share the greatest love we’ve ever known. Earlier this month, we filled our window with love and over the last few days we’ve been  squirreled away crafting 282 gifts to go out beyond our walls and through the letterboxes of every shop, office and restaurant around us. We can’t wait to bless every team in town. But for now we just have to be patient and wait till nightfall when everywhere is closed….