Encounters so far

The Revd Claire Renshaw writes:

Encounter has now been going since January 2017 and I thought it would be useful to let you know what we have been up to and what to expect in the coming months.

The structure of the service is quite familiar, with opening prayers, hymns, a time of confession and release, a time of prayer that is usually interactive and a slot for our topic for the day. The topics have focused on different types of prayer and spiritual disciplines, with the intention of providing us with tools to deepen our prayer life and relationship with God.

For centuries the monastic tradition has been full of wisdom, people able to spend large proportions of time with God have passed on some timeless wisdom that we can use to develop, grow and be nourished spiritually. It is this wisdom that we are passing on through the encounter service, allowing it to filter through into everyday people’s lives.

We themed the services on fruits of the spirit and fruits of a close relationship with God.

After each service, we have a bring and share supper, with the opportunity to sit and eat together and get to know each other better.

In January, we looked at new beginnings and the Baptism of Christ. We did an Ignatian (St Ignatius) exercise in which we imagined ourselves as part of the story and allowed God to show us something new about the passage.

In February, we looked at Love and did a meditation on the Prodigal Son, which was very powerful.

In March, we focused on joy and the joy that the Gospel should bring to our lives. We did some Lectio Divina (guided spiritual reading of scripture) and enabled God to speak to us through the passage.

In April, our Easter service, we thought about hope and the story of the road to Emmaus. We shared communion together.

In May we looked at kindness and welcomed the faith group from Henshaw’s. They led some of our songs and showed us the sign language and actions to go with them.  We considered the parable of the Good Samaritan and did a “Stations of the Good Samaritan.”

In June, we looked at peace and Jesus calming the storm. We looked at the value of and experienced a period of silence.

In July, we made the most of the summer weather and had the service outdoors. We looked at the breakfast of the beach and had fish and bread on the BBQ. We talked about creation proclaiming the handiwork of God and nature being the second book of scripture. We spent some time exploring the environment and looking for things nature can tell us about God. We then had a picnic.

Come September, we will be looking at gentleness and Jesus being the light of the world. We will be doing an exercise I call soul bathing. We rarely get the time to sit and gaze upon God and allow God to gaze upon us, we are too busy doing and learning. This is an opportunity to allow the light of God to fill our souls, to reach into all the dark areas and heal them. To bathe in God’s healing light.

In October, we will be thinking about self-control. We will be looking at another practice of St Ignatius called the Examen. Spending time in self-reflection and learning to understand ourselves better.

November will be on faithfulness and we will look at the benefits of rhythm in our lives and commitment. Also, stability and boundaries, thinking about the Ten Commandments. God’s faithfulness to us and our faithfulness in return.

December will be a service on light with a candlelight eucharist.

I hope this has given you a better insight on what goes on at Encounter. If you feel you would like to join us and deepen your prayer life and relationship with God, you would be most welcome.

Please do come along to one of our services which start at 4pm and bring something along (cold, buffet style items) for the bring and share supper.