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African vibrance...

Salvador da Bahia, Brazil's third largest city, has an energy and unadorned beauty reflecting what was once the magnificent capital of Portugal's New World colony. I am staying in a beautifully restored colonial house surrounded by a "living museum" of 17th and 18th century architecture and gold-laden churches. (Breathtaking but challenging in a country of such extreme poverty!)
The city is also a heady blend of two seemingly disparate cultures - classic Portugese architecture and African drum beats, cobbled streets and lively festivals, Catholic Churches and the Candomble (Afro-Brazilian religion.)
Last Tuesday, I experienced something of this fascinating blend when I attended Igreja NS do Rosario dos Pretos's Mass for St. Anthony....
Yes, there would be all the elements one might expect (candles, incense, processions) but also the exuberant percussive worship songs ( acapella except for drumbeats) accompanied by lithe, ecstatic movements of many worshippers.(I certainly clapped!?!) There were impromptu hugs during the sharing of the Peace (I wonder how that would be received in Dyffryn Clwyd?!) and a vast (40+) procession of people of all ages rhythmically transporting baskets laden with bread rolls of all shape and description prior to the Prayer of Thanksgiving...

Yes, as one might expect, there was the distribution of wafers after the prayer of consecration and Lord's Prayer (intoned with everyone having joined hands with one another - there's an idea!?) but, before worship finished, we were all suitably doused with water by the Priest and strongly encouraged to take a bread roll from the baskets as they were returned to the main entrance...

In a church which African slaves took 100 years to complete I felt that Christ's gift of Himself had been celebrated with much African poise and grace.
I wonder what might be the equivalent of us in Dyffryn Clwyd offering something of our "Cymreictod" (Welshness) to such an act of worship....?


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Sabbatical in summary...

My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’ 
Oh God, can those words be for me too?
How I long to hear them!
I’m not Moses, but I’m also on a journey – trying to follow Jesus.Some days, life seems like an unmarked wilderness,
and I’m not sure which way to go.
‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’
Yes, I hear you Lord. Help me to trust.Other days, I’m so busy that I don’t stop to listen.
I’m stressed and distracted and frazzled.
‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’
Yes, I hear you Lord. Help me to pause and take time for you.Then there are the days when I do remember.
I walk restfully in your presence.
How different those days are.‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’
Yes, I believe you Lord. Those words are for me. 
Your presence does go with me and give me rest.
Thank you Lord!Amen
Richard England

Sabbath rest....

As I reflect on my sabbath rest - my sabbatical - these questions from Peter Mead ( Scripture Union daily bible study) got me thinking....When you stop to think about what is on your to-do list, what are the first things that come to mind? Do you trust God with these things?
Do you trust God enough to take a day off?Are you striving to please God for salvation? Rest in what Christ has done.
Are you stressed as you strive in your work, even in your work for God?
Resting can be the ultimate declaration of trust! Let rest remind you of God’s goodness towards you and trust God's faithful provision!Peter Mead


A journey begins with one step and (with some trepidation) I start my sabbatical.
The hope?
To rest, have time out to reflect on calling,  ministry and what it might look like in the future - personally and within the context of Ruthin....
So, a prayer:
Loving God, in my journeying and my resting, in my listening and or reflecting please guide me and lead me afresh to the light of your truth, Jesus.
For I ask in His name...