Tag: Christianity

#EstatesChurch on The One Show


For anyone who missed the One Show last night, they did a big feature on the Church of England, focusing on two estates projects in Blackburn Diocese.  It is a really good and positive piece starting at 13 minutes.

Life on the Estates

As part of the Renewal and Reform agenda, the Archbishops’ Estates Evangelism Task Group have been hard at work for the last two years*.  In the coming weeks I will post more about how things are progressing with the “commitment to action“.

Our estates projects are working toward a thriving, growing, loving church on every significant social housing estate in the country – through new patterns of ministry, sharing good practice and encouraging leaders.

I wanted to highlight the recent video that was released.  Unfortunately, most of the publicity came out whist I was on holiday so I am a bit late to the party.  But as they say, better late than never.

*well you would say that Robb, you’re part of it.

Stars in the Sky

The lectionary text this morning was Genesis 12:1-4.  This is the passage where God makes a promise to Abram that he will have descendants as numerous as the stars.

So I took a trip to The Range. This is my regular Saturday afternoon haunt when prepping for Church on Sunday morning.  To make our starry sky, the background was made from A1 blue card, A1 black paper and pritt-stick.

During the opening songs, the youglings cut out equilateral triangles of yellow paper with 3″ sides. Then during the teaching, each member of the congregation folded them into stars.  We put our initials on them as an act of commitment as the people of God.  We then used sticky foam dots (the range is great) to add them to the sky.

A member of our community died this week.  One of the most poignant moments was when his widow and I put his initials onto a star and added it with the rest of us as the people of God.

You don’t get the text of my sermon to go with it as for all age worship I didn’t have a text – RE teacher skills.  You’ll have to write your own. Sorry.

Mary’s Lullaby (Away in a Manger) – Lyrics Adapted by Ruth and Robb

Since the late 19th century, The Church has been held hostage to one of the most theologically facile songs that has ever been sung during a service. All of the accusations of “pie in the sky when you die” and a “bearded man in the sky” can be found in this universal favourite.  When combined in a service filled with “baby” Jesus and the Christmas “Story” references, The Church has been inoculating people to the revolutionary faith we have in Christ.

Away in a Manger has become such a large part of our wider cultural memory that planning a service without it can cause disagreements both inside the church community and outside of it. Ruth and I have talked about this problem for many years.  A couple of years ago we wondered what it would be like if Away in a Manger was as revolutionary as the Magnificat. Using those words as our inspiration we decided to rewrite Away in a Manger from the perspective of Mary looking at her newborn child.

We have used it for the last couple of years in a variety of different contexts and it goes down really well.  We reworked it for Metanoia and the Rock Mass but we’re only half way through recording it so here is a simple arrangement to show how it could be used on organ or guitar.

Let’s take back Christmas!  Please use it freely in worship and schools.  If you want to credit us as “Ruth and Robb Sutherland” you’d make our day.

Mary’s Lullaby (Away in a Manger)

“Away in a manger, asleep on the hay,
I will watch over you at the end of the day,
The stars in the bright sky shine down where you lie,
As angels sing ‘Glory be to God on high’.”

“My spirit rejoices, for news of your birth
Like wildfire will spread over all of the earth;
A light in our darkness, a hope for the poor,
God’s gift to all people of life evermore.”

“Your name shall be Jesus, for this holy night
Is fulfilment of promise through God’s saving might;
But now sleep in peace, as I sing lullaby,
I will stay by your side til your dawning is nigh.”

– Lyrics adapted by Ruth and Robb Sutherland