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May 2018: hope of creation

What a wonderful afternoon celebrating Pentecost by finding renewed life in nature and talking about the holy spirit at work in our lives.

Here are a few photos of rocks, which were then decorated and hidden; an amazing staff as a monument to nature; the intense greens of the reserve admired by Sarah; and Mike with the flower decorations made by Liz in the background.

Our Bible readings, reflections and prayers from today are included below.

Acts 2: 1-4 (NIV)
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

I wonder…. Did the holy spirit just come upon the people? Or do this outpouring of God also invigorate the animals and plants of creation?

XXX

Then later in his letter to the Romans Paul speaks of the God of creation; about the hope in the world given by the holy spirit.

Romans 15:13 (Message): “Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”

I wonder… The holy spirit came to empower the disciples and to empower us all. But what are we empowered to do? How does this relate to caring for creation?

XXX

Pentecost prayer in a Celtic tradition:
May the Gifts of the Holy Spirit bring fire to the earth so that the presence of God may be seen
in a new light,
in new places,
in new ways.
May our own hearts burst into flame so that no obstacle,
no matter how great,
ever obstructs the message of the God within each of us.
May we come to trust
the Word of God in our heart, to speak it with courage, to follow it faithfully and to fan it to flame in others.
May the Jesus
who filled everyone
with his Holy Spirit
fill the world and the church with new respect
for everyone’s power and presence.
Give me, Great God,
a sense of the Breath of Spirit within me as I…
(State the intention in your own life at this time for which you are praying.)
Amen.

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April 2018: God in Creation

Today, as we sprout anew after two years of being dormant, we are going to remind ourselves about God in creation. We’re going to look for God in His natural cathedral.

The Bible is full of scripture about our creator God and the importance of knowing that God is in everything in the would around us. Here are 10 I have picked for us today…

Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Job 26:13 – “By His Spirit He adorned the heavens”

Psalms 24:1 – “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.”

Proverbs 22:2 – “The rich and the poor have this in common, The LORD is the maker of them all.”

Jeremiah 32:17 – “‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.”

Matthew 19:4 – “And He said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them”

Mark 10:6 – “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them”

John 1:3 – “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

Acts 17:24 – “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.”

Romans 11:36 – “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

And theologians across the ages have reinforced the importance of finding God in nature. For example….
Martin Luther: “God writes the gospel in the trees and the flowers”

So today we shall follow Jesus’ command on us to keep looking for him, the holy spirit and God in the would around us:

Luke 11:9 – “Ask and you’ll get. Seek and you’ll find.”

For the next 45 minutes you’re invited to explore where you wish in the nature reserve. Maybe around the lake, or in the woodlands, or in the hedgerows. Go out and look for Jesus in the trees and flowers and animals of Oakwood.

And when you find the creator I invite you to follow Jesus’ continuing invitation to “Knock and the door will open”. Pray your thanks or requests, your praise or your pain. Knock in prayer and know that our creator God will be listening to you.

If you wish to write the prayers and leave them where you find God then there are some wooden sticks here for you to use. Or leave one of these stones there to bless someone else when they’re found.

It’s oh so quiet

It’s oh so still

You’re all alone

And so peaceful until…

Well actually it remains peaceful in Oakwood and all around Maiden Erlegh Nature Reserve, a peace you only find in the midst of nature.  We hope it’s been peaceful where you are whilst we’ve not been meeting, and hope you might like to join us as plans are afoot to meet again.

 

Sickness and disability struck the Oakwood forest church team and we’ve not been able to organise gatherings for a few years, but as the snow drops emerge so we’re emerging with ideas for how we can meet again in an accessible way.

 

If you’d like to be involved in the new season of Oakwood Forest Church then please email us at Oakwoodforestchurch@gmail.com

Oakwood Forest Church 2015

Starting On Sunday May 10th 2015 Oakwood Forest Church will be meeting four times a year on a Sunday afternoon/evening at The Interpretation Centre at Maiden Erlegh Nature Reserve.

This change has been made by the steering group for the following reasons:
1 – this makes Oakwood accessible to people of all physical abilities
2 – we will be able to use the facilities of the centre for toilets, hot drinks and focused activities
3 – the steering group will be able to lead the group better at each meeting with activities for all ages
4 – we will be supporting the vision and mission of the rangers of the nature reserve who would like to see the interpretation centre used by community groups

The schedule for the year ahead is as follows

Sunday 10th May 3-4pm He is Risen: Easter meets Pentecost
Sunday 19th July 5-6pm God, creation and families
Sunday 27th September 3-4pm Harvest, food banks and nature’s bounty
Sunday 10th January 3-4pm Epiphany: The Kings’ Journey
Sunday 20th March 3-4pm Palm Sunday; The Easter Journey to Jerusalem and Beyond

Oakwood Forest Church 2015

The cost of hiring the interpretation centre is £14.55 for 90 minutes.
We will be asking for donations at each meeting of Oakwood Forest Church to cover the cost of the hire, tea and coffee and the materials used for activities.

The Story of Oakwood Forest Church so far…

These slides were presented at the Earthing Faith Gathering in May 2014.  
The outline notes are included below but Emma has never been known for sticking to any notes and this time was no different.

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Oakwood Forest Church met for the first time in November 2013. Sprouting from a visit to the New Forest Forest Church and conversations with friends from other churches in Earley. We are the sort of people who go for walks in the woods when we are trying to find some quiet time with God and so the idea of combining Church with nature was very appealing, especially in our very urban location.  The great thing about starting a forest Church is that there are no costs and no buildings to worry about. One quick conversation with the ranger of our nature reserve and another with our church insurers was all we needed to meet for the first time with everyones blessing.

So what is Oakwood Forest Church?
Oakwood Forest Church is:
– A fresh expression of church
– Non-denominational
– Open to everyone
– Christ Centered
– Part of a national network of forest churches

It’s hard to explain how Forest Church looks if you’ve never been to one of the meetings but it is best summarised as walking, exploring and praying together in God’s natural cathedral. We are a group of people, gathering to meet God and journey together.  Over the last six months we’ve had over 50 people come to one or more of the five meetings. We’ve also joined with a local church to run an Easter woodland walk which had over 150 people take part.  We have over a dozen members who don’t go to any other Church and who find God in the natural connections of the world; for them this is an opportunity to explore faith and what Jesus is all about.

Starting a forest Church may not be for everyone; but holding forest Church type events could be a really great way of linking your congregation to the natural world and the environment we are called to protect. It is also a wonderful way of meeting with people who are seeking faith and who are looking for a way of engaging with faith outside of church buildings.  The format of each Oakwood FC meeting will vary slightly; but we will start by meeting and praying together before walking and exploring for an hour in God’s presence.

The notes and slides from all the speakers at the gathering can be found at Earthing Faith

Sensing the Spirit of God

God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone
but also on trees and in the flowers and clouds and stars
.’

Martin Luther

oakwood brook

We are made in the image of God.
Made to be in relationship with God.
Made with five distinct ways of sensing the Spirit of God.

1. Vision

Our eyes see everything and yet often they see nothing.
Slow down and stop; allow your eyes to really see.
Under your feet,
Above your head.
What do you see?
How many individual pieces of natures jigsaw can you count?
Which stands out for you?
Which takes your breath away?
Is that God showing Himself to you?

 

2. Hearing

Before we recognise anything else we hear the voice of our mothers.
If you stop quietly now what can you hear?
Voices?  Cars?  Trains?  Music?

Beyond the sounds what else can you hear?
Your own thoughts?
Your worries, to-do list?
Can you move them aside?

There you find God.
Can you hear Him?
In the distant bird song?
In the rustle of the trees?
In the movement of the lake?

 

3. Touch

Turn to face the wind.
Can you feel it on your face?  On your hands?
Is it warm or cold; fierce or gentle?

Now take your hands and pick up a leaf, stone or branch.
Close your eyes and let your fingers feel nature.
Is it smooth or rough?  Old or new?  Alive or dead?

Turn to someone else and hold hands.
How does this feel?  Awkward or easy?
What do these hands tell you about the person?
What does this tell you about God?
And what do your hands tell someone else?

 

4. Taste

Does anything taste as good as cold water on a hot day?
Perhaps hot tea on a cold winters day?
How about blackberries fresh from the bush?
Or carrots straight from the ground?

When did you last taste something that took your breath away?
We have lost connection between our food and our plate.
Where did your lunch come from?
How good did it taste?
Did it damage the world we live in?
Did it taste good enough for the damage it did?

 

5. Smell

Finally turn your attention to your nose.
Your nose can smell more than 1 trillion different smells!
How many can you smell right now?

As you walk in a spiral away from the base try and identify the odours on the air.
How many are man made?
How many come from the natural world?
Which do you like?  Which do you not?

The sense of smell is most closely linked to memory.
Is there a smell which reminds you of someone in your past?
Or a meal?  Or some other event?

Is there a smell which reminds you of God?
Perhaps a smell from a church?
or from a family meal?
or from nature?
How does it feel to sense God with you again through that memory?

 

God is not a being in the distance.
He is not the creator who abandoned us long ago.
God is alive and with us in The Holy Spirit.
We can See Him
Taste Him
Touch Him
Hear Him
Smell Him if we only stop and look and wait and let ourselves find Him.
Today, tomorrow, any day, every day.

Mossy Church at Oakwood Forest Church

Every meeting of Oakwood Forest Church includes some form of Mossy Church activity. The link below discusses these activities and where they’ve come from.

http://llmcalling.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/mossy-church-forestchurch-messychurch.html

Interestingly this attached mossy church blog post has brought to light many other people who are doing similar activities and naming them mossy church – what better demonstration of God at work in our world.

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