Posted by: Tomo | January 16, 2017

Praying for Liz

The Sanctuary blog has laid dormant now for quite some time. And Sanctuary itself lies deep in the wilderness of our souls, almost a distant memory, yet forever part of our journey and who we are and what we will become.

I don’t even know if anyone else will see this post, and I may be stepping out of my place to write this, but my heart needs to.

If you see this, please pray. Pray for Liz. Beautiful, beautiful Liz. Let her know God’s love and peace. Let her soul sing.

I don’t feel I can share Liz’s story, it’s not mine to tell. Perhaps someone else may. But I hope that today many of us will lift our voices crying out in prayer. 

Posted by: soniamain | August 27, 2013

Sky Chapel at Greenbelt 2013

We had a great time at Greenbelt this year. The Sky Chapel looked beautiful ( Thanks to Tony Cook for making it for us). We wrote some words from Calvin Seerveld on the front, based on Psalm 19:

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
the very shape of starry space makes news of his handiwork.
God set up a tent for the sun at the ends of the earth
have you seen the sun?! beaming forth like a bridegroom from his marriage-bed

On the inside we had poem written by Clare Birch

Hush the velvet sky, the world falls away
and we are left
tiny and significant
searching worlds we barely comprehend
and finding only wonder

tonight I gaze again, alone.
Do you see it still, the starry canopy
shaken out to cloak the shivering earth?
From above, beyond, within,
do the skies still call you
still cover you
leaking light into the darkness of your sleep?

Hush the velvet sky
the world falls away
and we are left…

We also lead a service on the Sunday, titled Children of God, we had a good number of people attending, one little boy told his dad

“I didn’t know it was going to be that good!”

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Posted by: soniamain | August 20, 2013

Sanctuary at Greenbelt 2013

Some of us are back at greenbelt again this year. We are doing a service on Sunday at 4pm in Aspire, titled All God’s children. Also we have an installation at the Grove titled Skyrise, It’s a prayer space tent, with a hole in the roof allowing you the opportunity to spend time being amazed by the glory of God’s sky. I’ll post photos when we get back.

Posted by: soniamain | April 1, 2013

Sanctuary are still meeting for services once a month and for meals.

For our services we meet every 1st Sunday of the month, we swap between services at St Matthews church in Widcombe at 4pm and St Thomas a Beckett in Widcombe at 7pm. Contact Sonia for more details and to find out which venue we are in!.


Posted by: bluevangirl | April 1, 2012

Lent 6 – Palm Sunday

I have to confess, I’m late to lent this year. It’s almost easter, & really I haven’t given it much thought. It’s been a difficult year, dominated by brokenness & death, & God and I aren’t talking that much right now. The problem of pain, as CS Lewis termed it, looms large in my daily reality, and I wonder if God is as frustrated as I am by the injustice of it all. I don’t believe for a moment that just because I don’t feel God’s presence in my life he isn’t there – but honestly, I wouldn’t blame him if he’d decided to take a break from it all for a while.

After my dad died, I tried briefly to dispense with God altogether.

” How can you expect me to believe you care about me? how can you know what it feels like to watch the person you love suffer indignity after indignity, pain, humiliation, & ultimately a horrible death?”

Then of course I remembered the cross. Well, He’s got me there. So we have reached an uneasy truce. I’m over here with my pain, He’s over there with His. In time we’ll talk again, I’m sure. For now, I’m happy to sit under the blossom & watch His world continue around me, unfathomable as it is.

In our house at the moment things are all go – there have been school inspections, parents evenings, letters of application to be written, job fairs to be attended, school lunches to be made, furniture to be sold, tyre fires to be avoided, sick children to be tended, removals quotes to be gathered, a business to be sold and a million other things that I’ve probably forgotten.

Moving house is stressful. Moving house with kids is more stressful. And planning to move house and jobs, with kids in tow, to another country when you don’t even know where you’re going yet ….. well, its off the stress scale as far as I’m concerned.

But in all of this I have found some solace. We have started attended church again – which is in itself a minor miracle based on the chorus to teaching ratio(!) – and I have had a song echoing in my ears for the past few weeks that I return to almost every time I swim or shower or drive the car alone. Many years ago now I was lucky enough to sing with the amazing Iain Cotton at YFC services, and when he wrote the song “Lay Your Burdens Down” it seeped into my soul, and here it is continuing to bleed out of me in my moments of reflection and need. Maybe someone more talented than me could add it as a link??? Anyway… highlights the verse from Matthew 11

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

I pray that all of you who have burdens lay them down at the foot of the cross, and receive the respite you need and deserve this Lent.

Oh and a small footnote…….

It was only when I was looking up the passage in alternative versions to my youth bible that I remembered this is of course translated to “learn the unforced rhythms of grace” in the Message ….. which has become an anthem of sorts for Sanctuary. No wonder it gives me such peace! Much love to you all.

Posted by: soniamain | March 20, 2012

Sanctuary lent post four- Iain


I have set myself a little project this Lent, to explore the territory between creation and evolution. Nothing too demanding you understand! This study has partly been inspired by a recent strand on ASBO Jesus, where one chap says, “I don’t believe for one moment that fossil fuels contribute to global warming” and the other fellow retorts “You’re a Creationist, you don’t, for one moment, believe in fossils!” Ha ha. There ensued an interesting and lively debate. The American young earth creationist put up a lively fight but in the end I think he had his “pants kicked” The notion that the earth is very young, and that the flood narrative can explain all of geology appears to my understanding to be untenable as science.

To this end I have been reading “God After Darwin. A Theology of Evolution” by John F Haught. Its very good, although a bit technical in places for my slightly flabby and under exercised brain. I’m about half way through. I am not, though, going to give a synopsis or book review here and now. Phew I hear you gasp.  Instead I just want to pull out a few reflections that might serve to edify our faith in this season of Lent. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite.

“Indeed the fact of evolution now allows theology to apprehend more palpably than ever that creation is not just an original, but also and ongoing and constant new reality.”

“Evolutionary science has provided theology with a great opportunity to enlarge upon the ancient intuition – expressed so movingly by St. Paul – that the entirety of creation groans for ultimate fulfilment.”

“Evolution in all its wandering, struggling and temporally drawn out self creating, is perfectly consonant with this notion of divine grace, understood as God’s “letting be” of the world.”

“Evolution occurs because God is more interested in adventure, than in preserving the status quo.”

I am not sure I am yet ready to capitulate as much to Neo Darwinism as Haughty, but his reflections reveal a rich opportunity to see God in the dynamic, groaning, unfolding reality in which we move and have our being. I feel my understanding is evolving.

Posted by: soniamain | March 13, 2012

Sanctuary Lent Blog post 4- Damien

I like tradition.

I like the fact at certain times of year there are rituals that remind us of our collective past and cultural heritage.

On All Hallow’s Eve there are often Jack O Lantern’s decorating the fronts of houses. Originally these were placed on the gateposts of houses and other thresholds to ward off evil spirits.
When I see them, I feel connected, like I’m not completely cut off from the past, not  marooned in the present. But that I can still access the wisdom of generations before me, something bigger than my attempts to make sense of life. When life, although in many ways scarier and inherently less secure, was somehow more profound and meaningful.
Christmas is another such time for me, although horribly distorted as a festival, it is still a time when one can think of the 100s of years of celebrations and the many generations who have been involved in them. I don’t feel so alone, but that the world is imbuded with significance, even if fleetingly – a significance I don’t impose upon it.
During Lent we are reminded, however tentatively, that life is not all about survival. As the early monastics knew so well, we need tradition, rhythm, seasons. Unproductivity. A sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves. And above all – to trust.
‘Man does not live by bread alone.’
I’ve given up chocolate – how about you?

Posted by: Su | March 4, 2012

Sanctuary Lent Blog post 3

Hi All,

Here’s a bit from God of Surprises by Gerard W. Hughes that I have found helpful recently

Face the fears that haunt you

In Jungian language, ‘Face your shadow.’ Fear, like guilt, is a healthy human reaction to danger which is threatening. If we refuse to face the fear, the fear may become a ruthless tyrant pervading and poisoning every aspect of our lives. Once faced, the fears often turn out to be illusory, a truth vividly illustrated in a dream which someone shared with me while I was giving him the Spiritual Exercises. I shall call the dreamer ‘Tom’.

It began as a nightmare. Tom was in a dark jungle, alone and unarmed, but there were threatening figures lurking in the shadows. He knew that the locality was called ‘Recife’, although at the time of the dream he had no idea where ‘Recife’, was. As he could not defend himself, he decided to try and befriend the threatening figures, some of whom vanished, while others proved friendly and protected him fro the rest of his journey. Later, reflecting on the dream, he saw the pun on the word ‘Recife’, which was saying to him, ‘”Receive” those things in your life of which you are afraid and befriend them.’ He began to look at some of the fears in his life and discovered that some vanished, while others turned out to be sources of strength. One of the most constant refrains in the Old Testament and in the New is ‘Do not be afraid’. God, in Christ, has overcome all the powers of evil and destruction. God is the God of surprises who can turn even the evil we have done, and the evil done to us, into the very means of our salvation. The Church at Easter sings a beautiful poem which begins with the Latin word ‘Exsultet’, meaning ‘Rejoice’, and includes the phrase, ‘O felix culpa’, meaning ‘O happy fault’, and goes on to give the reason, ‘O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer’.

A very good way of facing our fears is to reveal them to someone we can trust who will listen and will accept us as we are. Having put the fear into words and given it a name, it no longer has such power over us…

Posted by: Su | February 26, 2012

City Wasteland

Local Cafe

“Do try to do some exercise”, said the diminutive & glamorous GP in front of me, “it’ll help”, yes, I said, and later invested a fiver in a skipping rope – figuring the one off lump sum would allow me to skip as much as I wanted (barring co-ordination & rhythm).

That was a good six months ago now, and I’m still ploughing through the same leaden fatigue. Grudgingly reflecting that it might be the impact of life events plus my work environment.

I feel submerged as I try to challenge work place bullying, – reluctantly trying to be grateful that I have a job in these stricken times and then the grind of not really having enough cash to buy tasty food, whilst the people I care about suffer extremes of anxiety & depression.

Sometimes it feels as though there’s not much out there for people like me, tired, broke, trying harder & harder to keep everything together. Who’s interested in you when your just trying to do your best?, Still, there is CoDA,

CoDA’s helped loads, it’s insistence on practicing ‘self care’ born out of witnessing lives wrecked by dysfunctional systems. Slowly CoDA’s upended many of my sacred rituals, I don’t feel so pressurised to keep trying.

If CoDA hadn’t lead me into a sense of happiness, I’d have thought it must be a cult group, so much of my thinking has inverted.

And with a fresh vantage point of recognising my need for God’s tender nurturing of me, and real enough contact to lead me, I found myself reflecting on the coming period of lent.

As Matthew recounts, Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert, as hunger hit him the Devil chirped in about transforming stones into bread, in His repost Jesus says “we cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks” (Matt. 4:4)

Though my own walk through fatigue, I know just how much I need the inspiration from God, – food, however tasty, cannot hold me together and set my feet moving forward. How come I used to read this passage as an injunction against an over attachment to food? Or missed the depth of compassion Jesus show’s in knowing our need for an articulate connection with God.

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