Advent Supper 1

If Jesus was born today, what sort of world would he find?

Advent began early this year in The Chase Benefice with me leading the first of our four Advent Suppers on Wednesday night (25 November).  Twenty-three of us gathered in Chadlington Hall for an excellent meal – it may be a penitential season, but hospitality and fellowship are never out of place! – and around it some stimulating talk on the topic of compassion.

Things got off to a good start with the viewing of an engaging online TED talk by Rabbi Jackie Tabick – ‘The Balancing Act of Compassion’ – this, together with some related suggestions for discussion, got us all talking over our meal.  [You can watch this TED talk and look at the questions we discussed at the end of this post]. Having cleared the dishes, we looked at the story of ‘The Good Samaritan’ and what it has to say about compassion.   On our table (there were four) we thought about what is meant by ‘our neighbours’, the difficulties of acting compassionately now compared to the difficulties in Jesus’ time, and what limits and checks there can be on our responses.  I’d have liked to eavesdrop on the conversations at other tables as well… but at least a short time of feedback at the end meant we had a flavour of what everyone else had been talking about, and out of it came the general agreement that compassion by itself is not enough.  Responding to someone else’s suffering or difficulty has to result in some kind of action on our part.

The next three Wednesday evenings will follow the same pattern of TED talk, meal and discussion, around the topics of empathy, community and welcome.  Next Wednesday Mark will lead with ‘A radical experiment in empathy’.  It will pick up from his sermon following the attacks in Paris.  It promises to be a really challenging and stimulating evening.   There is still time to sign up – don’t miss out! – you can book your place by clicking here.

Marian Needham


 

ADVENT SUPPER – WEEK  1
25 November 2015

TED Talk – The Balancing Act of Compassion

 

Some questions for discussion during our meal:-

  • What does having compassion mean for you?
  • Are you able to describe and share a situation when someone showed compassion to you?
  • What boundaries might having compassion lead us to cross?
  • What things stop us from acting on our compassion?

Biblical reflection

Luke 10. 25-37 – The ‘Good Samaritan’

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

Questions to consider

  • What was Jesus trying to tell us by having a Samaritan as the hero of the story?
  • What was Jesus saying by having the priest and the Levi as the ones who failed to show compassion?
  • Who are our neighbours today?
  • What things can make it difficult for us to love our neighbours?
  • If Jesus were to be born today, would he find our compassion and love for others any different from 2,000 years ago?
  • Jesus said: ‘Go and do likewise’.  In this story, Jesus challenges our prejudices and encourages us to enlarge our idea of who our neighbour is, and to love in the generous, unconditional way that we have been loved by God regardless of the personal cost or inconvenience. How possible is that today?  How can we be the ‘hands of God’ today?

Advent Suppers 2015

Advent is traditionally regarded as a time of preparation. It presents us with the chance to pause in the increasingly commercialised run up to Christmas and to think about the true message of the Incarnation – of Jesus being born among us.

If the Incarnation happened today, what sort of world would Jesus be born into?  Would we make room for him and what sort of welcome would he get?

These are some of the questions that we will be addressing in our Advent Suppers this year.

The format will be slightly different than in previous years.  We will start at 7 pm [prompt start please!] with a short 18 minute video presentation. Then, over a delicious supper with a glass of wine, we will discuss some questions raised by the presentation. After the meal, there will be some reflection on a Biblical passage and a few further questions to open out the discussion.  The evening will draw to a close with a suggested action that people might want to want to take away and time for a plenary to share reactions.  We will be away by 9 pm.

The Suppers will be held in Chadlington Memorial Hall from 7 pm to 9 pm on the following Wednesday evenings:

November 25th
December 2nd, 9th and 16th

For catering purposes it is important that you book a place now – please do so by clicking here or leaving a message on 01608 676572.

Details of each of the talks will be posted each week – if you subscribe to this blog you will be sent an email to tell you when they are added.

We shall remember…

At our Remembrance Day service in Spelsbury Church today, we dedicated a ceramic poppy from the 2014 Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red commemoration installation at the Tower of London.  It was given to Caroline Williams by her son William who served in the First Gulf War and it was dedicated to the memory of Caroline’s grandfather, Major David Cuthbert, who was lost in action at the Battle of the Somme.

During the service it was placed on the Altar in front of 63 candles, representing the 63 men and boys from the village of Spelsbury who fought in the Great War – many of whom didn’t return.

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Help for Refugees

A refugee carries a child as he makes his way through the border from Hungary towards the Austrain town of Nickelsdorf September 21 Photo credit Reuters/DAVID W CERNY
A refugee carries a child as he makes his way through the border from Hungary towards the Austrain town of Nickelsdorf September 21 Photo credit Reuters/DAVID W CERNY
Many people across the Benefice have been asking what can we do to help refugees fleeing Syria and other countries. Here are some organisations, both local and national, that you might consider supporting:

West Oxfordshire District Council is providing information for local residents who wish to help the plight of Syrian refugees. There is more information on their website – http://www.westoxon.gov.uk/refugees They note that there are some local organisations who are collecting supplies for refugees and that would welcome material and financial donations.

Crying out for Calais is a Witney-based project that is taking basic essentials to refugees in Calais. To find out how you can support their work, see their website – http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/crying-out-for-Calais

Emmaus Oxford are also taking basic essentials to refugees in Calais. To find out how you can support their work, see their website – http://www.emmaus.org.uk

Asylum Welcome are another Oxford charity but focuses its work with refugees and asylum seekers already in Oxfordshire. To find out how you can support their work, see their website – http://www.asylum-welcome.org

If you wish to make a financial donation, these Christian charities are getting aid to those most at need:

Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East FRRME is a small UK-based charity, set up to support the work of Canon Andrew White – until November 2014 the vicar of Bagdad, is providing food, shelter and medicine for hundreds of Iraqi refugee families who have fled ISIS and are now in Jordan. Some have walked across the desert to find safety, with little more than the clothes on their backs. You can read more about FRRMEs work and donate here.

Christian Aid  is working with churches and other agencies in supporting humanitarian efforts taking place in Europe and the Middle East. Their partners can provide essential humanitarian supplies such as food, fuel for cooking, hygiene and sanitation kits, water containers and cash assistance, as well as psychological support for those who are suffering as a result of the conflict. To donate click here.

Thank you to all those who gave donations at Marian’s Licensing service – we raised £535 plus Gift aid.

Serving the villages of Chadlington, Ascott-under-Wychwood, Spelsbury and Enstone