|Following the Government and Church of England Guidance we are stopping Kairos Gatherings and Communities, at least physically. We have also closed Resurrection Bikes and Westcliffe Hall to bookings. |
We are not stopping Kairos, worship or prayer! We are not stopping our efforts to share with everyone the good news that the Kingdom of God is near. We are not stopping loving God or building community. There has been lots of talk in the last few days of a new kind of church emerging. We have been exploring these things for a number of years. and are very grateful to God that the way He has been leading us to form relationships and build community could fit well with the situation we currently find ourselves in.
We appreciate that this is a challenging and worrying time and we want to make ourselves available to help. If there is anything we can do (e.g. pop to the shops for you, pick up a prescription, or just be available to chat + pray over the phone), then please just get in touch. We can’t promise we’ll be able to help in every situation, but we do promise to do our best. We will be checking the office phone and emails every day Mon – Fri, so you can contact us there: firstname.lastname@example.org, 01423 560558.
The next few weeks will be challenging for us, we will need to continue to find new forms for our love and worship. I am starting to have a number of conversations with Kairos Community Leaders about how we can do that well. We’ll also find ways that Kairos Kids and Blaze can connect and spend time together too. Kairos Network Church has an active presence. Our facebook and instagram pages are the best ways to keep up with what is going on.
“Though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.”
God bless you!
About Ben Askew
Posts by Ben Askew:
As people encountered Jesus they found themselves opening up to him in new ways. Telling him about their own life and listening to his tales about how they might fit into Gods great story. Pharisees, fishermen, women, Roman officials and children all found themselves drawn in by his stories and challenged by his questions.
We want to be people who can ask good questions and tell good stories in order to rediscover loving conversation and build friendships.
Asking Questions of each other.
How good are you at asking people within Kairos how they really are? How much space do we make to really listen to what is going on in each others lives? With good questions and proper attention we can help each other feel loved and grow.
Here are some great conversations starter questions:
What are you thankful for?
What do think God might be saying to you?
What is making you happy right now?
What is bringing you sadness?
What are you reading/thinking about/learning?
What are you praying about?
Opening up the conversation
Learning how to practice this rhythm means taking the same approach with other people in our life, and not making assumptions about what others might or might not feel about faith.
Most people I have talked to about spirituality and faith have ideas and opinions and are interested in genuine conversation. So starting discussion about these things doesn’t need to be difficult. As well as some of the questions above you could make use of the following:
Do you have a spiritual experience?
Do you think of yourself as far from or near to God?
Have you ever believed in something more?
How about giving this a go? Try getting using a couple of good questions to get into a meaningful, loving conversation with someone this week. Really listen and pay attention to them. If you do, I’d love to hear how it goes!
“One generation will tell your works to another.” Psalm 145
We are continuing to look at our third Rhythm of GRACE – Asking questions and telling stories. John McGinley, who came up with the idea of a rhythm of grace (great book here) describes this rhythm as recovering “the art of a loving conversation”. We do seem to have found ourselves in a world where there are many voices, emails, text messages that are issuing instructions: what to do, what to buy, how to live. There are far fewer that invite us into a conversation. I don’t know about you, but I find I am far more drawn to questions and stories than I am to instructions.
Asking questions and telling stories is about learning to use empathy and curiosity to have loving conversations with one another and with those around us; as we build these kind of conversations we will find we develop close friends and we will see those friends drawn to Jesus. A few weeks back I encouraged you to find ways to immerse yourself in God’s story. As we continue to do that, and also look to make good use of questions and stories in all our relationships, we will find that our ability to share God’s love with those around us will increase.
Let’s think for a moment about asking questions. How do we learn to practice loving curiosity? For a while our approach to discipleship has been based on questions. We ask one another “What is God saying and what am I going to do about it?” When we gather round the bible lots of us use the Discovery Bible Study Questions to increase the impact of God’s story on our lives. When we think about our own growth, or walking on a journey with people of peace we ask “What next Lord?” We know a bit about how to ask questions to develop disciples.
Practicing this rhythm starts with taking that same approach into all of our relationships and thinking of good questions that might open up conversation and friendship. It also means not asking a question and then rushing on to give an answer, but taking the time to listen, to pay attention to people, to learn what they are really saying.
A great way to take a next step with this rhythm is to start asking God questions about people in your life. Did you start praying for five people during Thy Kingdom Come? Why don’t you continue to pray for them and ask God:
“What do you love about this person?”
“What are you wanting to do in this person’s life?”
“How can I serve this person Lord?”
Our third rhythm of GRACE is Ask Questions and Tell Stories. We are called to be a people who use empathy and curiosity to deepen relationships. We want to live together in a way that declares and demonstrates the good news of God’s transforming love to everyone around us.
At our Leaders Day last Saturday some of us got to think about how we share our story. We’ll come back to that soon; for now I want to encourage you to immerse yourself in God’s Story.
I keep hearing and reading in all sorts of places about how humans are storied beings: we make sense of our lives and relationships by telling stories about them. Our brains process all the conflicting inputs and experiences while we sleep by weaving stories in our dreams, our culture plays back to us our hopes, fears and desires in books, television screens and devices. There are set patterns and themes that come up again and again in our myths, fairy tales and narratives.
Our claim, as people of God, is that there is one story beyond all others. One tale that grounds reality and gives our lives meaning. It starts in the garden of Eden and ends in the city of the new creation. Its hero is Jesus. To learn how to ask questions and tell stories well starts with immersing ourselves in that story.
Where and when do you get to encounter God’s story? How do you get to share this with others?
When we gather in our communities to study the bible together, when we listen to and preach on the bible at our gatherings. When we read our bibles on our own we are exposing ourselves to this story, asking questions of it and allowing it to shape us.
As a family we’ve picked up a copy of Steve and Bekah Legg’s devotional Life Together. We try to read it together at breakfast – in our busy morning it gives us a chance to connect with God’s story together for a few minutes. Are there ways that you and your household can do something similar? There are all sorts of other devotionals and reading plans that are useful to use; what have you found that is useful?
I’ve found that getting the Bible onto my phone and computer in as many ways as possible helps me stay immersed in God’s story. Here are some of my favourite apps.
The YouVersion Bible app – has been going for a few years and enables you to access a number of translations and follow reading plans. There is also a social function so you can highlight, make notes and share what you are reading with friends.
Dwell and Streetlights are 2 projects I love that are combining music and scripture. Dwell features 4 voices reading the ESV version of the Bible. Streetlights features a range of US based rappers reading the New Living Translation. I’ve found it really helpful to use both, to listen to as well as read scripture.
The Bible Project is one of my favourite things. They make excellent, short videos that explore books and themes in the Bible.
How do you immerse yourself in God’s story?
How do you let God’s word fill you?
Before Easter we started looking at our second rhythm: receiving and releasing God’s presence. If you need a reminder about some of those things have a look here. We’d been noticing that God’s people are image bearers and glory carriers. We get to notice God around us and be filled with his Spirit. We also get to share the Holy Spirit with those around us.
I have been reading Ephesians this week and love how chapter 2 puts it: “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Isn’t that brilliant – you are part of God’s temple, filled with his presence.
How do we release that presence with others, being open and generous with our spiritual connection to God? Here are some really simple practices:
Pray for people – are you still praying blessing or ABCD for 3 friends? Brilliant! You can let them know that – “By the way, I’m praying for you.” Your connection with God is a gift, you can share it.
Pray for workplaces or neighbourhoods – together with people in your household or community you can pray blessing for places. This can be even more effective when you head out and walk around that place – praying as you go. We’ll be doing some prayer walking in the first week of June together, look out for details soon.
Pray with people – a step further on from saying “I’m praying for you” is asking “Can I pray with you?” and, if your offer is accepted, saying a short prayer. If a friend is sharing with you about something that is hard, or a sickness or need of healing then why wouldn’t you want to use your connection with God to offer love and support? I’ve found that only very rarely do people not appreciate being invited to pray, and that often they sense God doing something as you pray.
Listen and share – many of us are used to listening to God and sharing pictures or words with others in Communities and Gatherings. You can do that out and about as well. You might need to think of some simple ways of explaining what you mean, and get in to some fun conversations. How about listening to God for a word or picture for a friend and then seeing if you can find an encouraging way to share that?
The key to learning to release God’s presence is to stop switching off our connection with God. Learn to live a more integrated lifestyle and try out sharing with friends and people of peace some of the natural-supernatural ways that God works in you. Remember these things are best when they are done in community. How could you and your community grow in releasing God’s presence around you? I’d love to hear your response and stories of what you get up to!
One of the things that I love to do in these weeks after Easter is read again the stories of the risen Jesus appearing to his disciples. In Luke 24 and John 20 and 21 we get to look in on conversations between Jesus, groups of his followers and individual friends after the resurrection.
Before Easter we had started thinking about our rhythm of Receiving and Releasing God’s presence (I’ll write a bit more on that again next week). As I’ve read the resurrection stories this year I’ve noticed four ways in which Jesus enables his friends to receive and release the news of his resurrection.
Surprise – the stories often have an element of shock, a sudden realisation. Mary doesn’t recognise Jesus at first. Thomas won’t accept he’s alive, the disciples on the road to Emmaus don’t realise Jesus is with them until just before he’s gone. This is quite normal – imagine the shock of realising Jesus is really with you after you had witnessed him die. This is shocking news!
Intimacy – Risen Jesus invites people close. Often there is touch involved, often he shares a meal. This isn’t a distant experience but an up-close intimate one. As he comes close with his friends Jesus does some deep work with them, helping them experience forgiveness, challenging them about their unbelief.
Belief – There comes a moment when we’re told these disciples believe. They accept Jesus is alive. Thomas, for example, declares – “My Lord and my God.”
Commission – Jesus gives these friends jobs to do. Mary is sent off to the others, Peter is called to “feed my sheep”, all the disciples are commissioned to go into all the world. I
imagine though these followers are still dazed and struggling to make sense of things; even so, Jesus hands out tasks and helps them become participants and leaders.
As we’ve been praying about growth and provision together I’ve found myself thinking about these four themes. I think God wants to work in us in these ways too.
Over the next 40 days between Easter and Pentecost we are going to be praying together for growth and provision for our Church. These are both areas where as a church, we want to see breakthrough.
The stories of Easter, Ascension and Pentecost remind us again and again that God brings breakthrough and does so through people like us. So I’d like to invite you to join in and pray for growth and provision every day. You can do this in your home, with communities and at our gatherings. Pray in whatever way you feel led, one of the simplest ways would be to say the two prayers below each day. As the 40 days go on I’m excited to see what God does in us and through us to answer these prayers.
Prayer for Growth
Father, you have called our church and communities to be places where people are being discipled, faith is growing and lives are being transformed. Give us greater increase and breakthrough every day, so that disciples are growing and multiplying. Amen.
‘Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’ Matthew 13:8
Prayer for Provision
Lord, give us vision, strategy, strength and finance to do the work you’ve called us to. We are a family of joyful workers, and your harvest is huge! We won’t shrink back but trust you to give us all we need. Amen.
‘May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.’ Hebrews 13:21
After a long term, when we have taken significant steps forward in loving God and building community together, it is time to gather together to celebrate and rest in the victory of Jesus. At our Holy Week and Easter Gatherings there will be opportunities to enter into the story of Easter and allow God to speak to you.
Hope is Alive because of Jesus’ Victory!
We’d love you to join us at these these Gatherings:
PALM SUNDAY – 14th April
9am Communion at Westcliffe Hall
Worship, prayer and communion with an Easter theme.
Explore Easter at Fairfax Community Centre, 10:30am
All ages are invited to explore what Easter means, with activities, crafts and refreshments.
Simply Easter at Westcliffe Hall, 3 – 5pm
All are welcome to drop in and explore the Easter story with us. Expect activities, crafts,
hot cross buns and an Easter Egg hunt.
MON – WEDS of HOLY WEEK (15th – 17th April)
9am prayers at Westcliffe Hall
Start your day with half an hour of prayer.
Holy Week Meditations, 7-7:30pm, Westcliffe Hall
Space to worship and reflect on a part of the Holy Week story.
MAUNDY THURSDAY – 18th April
Meals in Communities
Join with others to mark the meal Jesus shared before he died.
Details available from the office.
GOOD FRIDAY – 19th April
Harrogate Churches Walk of Witness
Leaving Wesley Chapel at 11.15am to arrive at the Cenotaph for a service at 11.30am.
An hour by the Cross, Westcliffe Hall, 2:30 – 3:30pm.
An hour of prayer and worship reflecting on the cross.
EASTER SUNDAY – 21st April
Kairos Whole Church Easter Day Celebration,
Westcliffe Hall, 10am
Worship all together with celebratory drinks and chocolate!
We have a rhythm of receiving and releasing God’s presence. What has been given to us we naturally and readily pass on to others. In John 7 Jesus says: Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” This living water bubbles up and refreshes us, then flows outwards to the world. Later Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on his followers and immediately tells them that they get to forgive people’s sins.
You are a stream of living water flowing through a thirsty world. Life bubbles up through you in your home, at your workplace, wherever you spend you time. God’s Holy Spirit desires to flow out from you to others so that they might also share in his love. The community you are part of is like a river as the streams within each of you come together.
Do you feel full of the Holy Spirit? Does that fullness flow to those around you? Next week I’ll share some practices that could help release more of God’s presence around you. One of the best ways to start with this is to pray.
How often do you pray for those around you and ask that God’s love would be felt in their lives? Do you remember those three people you were praying blessings for? How about continuing that but expanding the prayer slightly. I love 24-7 Prayer‘s advice for praying for friends and neighbours. They suggest we pray A, B, C, D: that people in our life would become Awakened to God’s love, Blessed, Curious about faith and Drawn towards God. Why not develop that blessing challenge into a habit and pray A, B, C, D for 3 friends each day? You will find it strengthens your ability to receive and release God’s presence.
I find it incredibly encouraging to remember that even Jesus had to regularly find ways to sustain his ministry. The gospels make it really clear that he certainly didn’t constantly give out, but rather lived in a rhythm of receiving and releasing. In fact if you have time why not grab a notebook right now and see if you can jot down the ways in which you remember Jesus receiving support, sustenance or encouragement from God or others? I’ve got a list of at least 12 ways in which he was sustained (I cheated, it’s in a book) – see how many you can find. I’d love to see what you come up with!
Life as God’s representative can be draining! The very act of maintaining hope in the midst of some of the difficulties and challenges we see in our lives and the world around us can be hard enough. We’ve talked in the past about people who go from be to do, not do to be. That means we live out of our identity as God’s beloved children. We look for ways to receive his love, presence and affirmation, and we then naturally release that to others. We allow God to bless us, and we pass blessing on to others. We seek places where we can meet God, and we lead others to join in.
The places where you can be free to receive from God and the people who encourage you to grow are incredibly important. They are what gives you the sustenance to live as his follower. Have you still got that notebook? Good – write some of the times and places where you meet God – on your own, with others. Do you have regular patterns that help you draw near? What is working well for you and what could do with a bit of change?
Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Next week I’ll share some thoughts about specific practices that might help with this, so if you have something that you know works for you let me know – perhaps it will be an encouragement to others!