February Playlist

Second mixtape of the year. February has my birthday in it so is a month I always enjoy. In Harrogate there have been signs spring might come soon. Its also seen beginning of Lent, the Christian season of “bright sadness” that focussed on making space for the eternal and beginning to anticipate Easter. As the month ends this year my part of the world is gripped by freezing temperatures and snow. Exciting and fun but also a sign that winter’s bite is not over yet!

Here’s a mix of upbeat and reflective music, ending with a prayer. I hope you enjoy listening to it.

What have you been listening to this month?

4 Askews visit Aarhus

Last week the Askews went on a little adventure! We got to spend some time in Aarhus, Denmark. We were visiting friends from The Order of Mission and their church. There were many things that were wonderful about the time; we stayed in a lovely, cosy, cabin about 40 mins out of the city which provided some warmth and space for us all. We visited some of the fantastic sites of Aarhus including a rainbow walkway, a giant boy and a robotic elevator car-park. Some of us even got to ice skate for the first time.

We worshiped together at Aarhus Valgmenighed. I always find I enjoy time worshiping with Christians in different languages and noticing the similarities and differences in how we talk about and approach God. I loved the mix of spirit, word and symbol in the service, and the hope and hunger for God to move that was tangible in the church.

The highlight for me was meals and conversations with other families who are part of The Order of Mission at their homes. We didn’t really know any of them well before our visit, but found that our shared commitments to TOM gave us a language and understanding of one another that went deep. There was lots of common understanding as we shared stories of adventure, transition, breakthrough, pain and God’s faithfulness with one another. Each evening ended quite naturally with prayer, for one another and for our global TOM family.

Perhaps this is one of the best bits of being part of a global, dispersed network – getting to visit, learn from and encourage one another in our contexts! Thank you to the Dahlmanns, the Thomsens and the Mortensens for your welcome! We’re looking forward to getting together with more TOM family at the Global Gathering in Cambridge.

10 songs from my January

In December Spotify sent me a playlist of the songs I’d played most last year. There were some surprises (and some skewed results due to my son’s taste for minecraft parodies) but it was fun to listen to what I’d been listening to.

Music stays with me, and songs become attached to certain moments. Like fragrance, I find song can instantly take me back somewhere, remind me of a person or lift me out of my current place. Music helps me appreciate the world, concentrate, get distracted and worship.

I used to love making mixtapes, to give to people or to play in our car (it is only our most recent car that plays cds not tapes. We are in automobile terms old fashioned.)

So I’ve decided to start some mixtape playlists, a few of my favourite pieces of music from each month to share with you, if you’d like to listen.

Here is January’s tape. The new year started fairly reflectively for me (as it does often) lots of looking back and desiring space, silence, prayer, but gradually I’ve got going and I think that is reflected in the songs. One or two are favourites from 2017 and a few are things I have heard for the first time this month.

I hope you enjoy this with me! What have you been listening to?

Northumbria Community

It was so good to spend some time retreating in Northumberland last week. The time to slow down and reflect was very helpful.

What was also wonderful was to be a guest within the Northumbria Community. What a joy to sit at their table and join in with their rhythms!

Theirs is a dispersed community shaped by a rule of life and a common way of praying. Both the rule and the rhythm of prayer seem to have given their members a robust way of keeping going through challenge and change, and a way to live their life in pursuit of God. The beautiful liturgy also has an outward function: Celtic Daily Prayer is one of the key ways people get to find out about the Northumbria Community’s way of life.

A highlight for me was prayers and communion in their lovely woodland chapel. A building lit and heated only by fire and candle. Chilly, but very special.


The Mountain Will Fall

“It’s like being at base camp and looking up at an unconquerable mountain; can’t dwell on the difficulty, you have to just start the journey, One step follows the next which leads the way to the next. There will be missteps but as long as the vision is whole, the mountain will fall.”

Like what I’ve been hearing from the new DJ Shadow album, love this quote from him on the creative process.

I found the quote on Pitchfork.

Ash and Plastic

I read, the other day that, even at the depths of the ocean,
there are now tiny grains of plastic.

Will that be our ultimate legacy?
Petrochemicals at the bottom of the sea.
Wilderness tamed by plastic.

Didn’t we have a spark once,
A divine drop of goodness?
It seems that we’ve lost it,
No, we’ve traded it
and all we seem to make is ash, and plastic.

Ash and plastic where dreams of beauty and goodness and change-the world
Became discarded trinkets and scorched battlegrounds.

Ash and plastic, round behind out impressive edifices
On the smouldering waste-heaps that we try to hide.

Will that be our legacy? Or will we learn
And somehow find the way to re collaborate
With You.

So that ash and plastic might be made new.

Last minute Lent ideas

He we are, Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes tonight, ash tomorrow.

It has felt to me that Lent is beginning very early this year – its almost caught me by surprise and I haven’t quite had as much time as I usually like to to plan what I might do this season to help me draw closer to Jesus.

In case you are simiilarly stumped here are three last minute lent resources you could use.

40 Acts are encouraging people to do one simple generous thing a day. I’m excited about doing this – and hopefully excercising my kindness muscles this year. We’re going to do this as a family discipline using their all-age resource.

During Advent I read Malcolm Guites excellent anthology, Waiting on the Word, it featured a poem a day and insightful commentary. I am looking forward to reading his lent anthology this year. If you don’t quite have time to get the book yet you can listen to each poem on his blog.

Finally I remember being fascinated by Ian Adam’s 40 Temptation series on Morning Bell posts last year. An image and a provocation – some quite painful. Ian has expanded them into an anthology of words and images that you can get from Proost. I’m looking forward to going through this, though expect some to make me uncomfortable.

What about you, are you embracing any Lent disciplines or working through a resource that you hope will encourage you? I was challenged to get give some of these away to people around me this year. Is there anyone around you that you could share a Lent journey with?

The Ash cross image came from Creationswap.