The Lord Is Doing A New Thing
The Priory has been going through a period of change recently. Adjusting to all kinds of change can be difficult for most of us, yet surprisingly, grappling with change is the process that most often transforms us into the people God wants us to be.
Even the phrase ‘Repent for the kingdom of God is here!’ has change at its heart, since ‘repent’ means to turn around and go in another direction. To allow our thinking to be turned upside down demands courage, as does any journey into uncharted territory; yet Jesus empowers us with the ‘I can’ Spirit of his kingdom, whenever we seek to walk in the direction to which he calls us.
The Bible is full of analogies for change: from the potter and the clay, to the grain of wheat that has to fall into the ground and die before yielding a fruitful harvest. Change can be a ‘mixed bag,’ and we all know how it feels when institutional change is seemingly imposed upon us from ‘on high.’
Yet the changes God uses to transform and develop our faith are full of divine opportunity. It’s interesting that the Aramaic word Jesus used for God’s kingdom literally means ‘I can!’ How empowering is that?! And the frequency with which Jesus talked about his ‘can-do’ kingdom suggests that when change is harnessed by the Spirit it may actually be the catalyst that transforms us to the likeness of Christ.
It’s human to chafe against unwanted changes so we generally regard them as our enemy, rather than the friends they may become. Whilst I am not advocating a blanket form of passivity that accepts whatever comes along without challenge or discernment, there are undoubtedly times when circumstances are simply beyond our control. As writer and conference speaker Paula D’Arcy says, ‘God comes to us disguised as our life!’
Perhaps the occasions when I most struggle to make sense of these are the times most rich in potential; opportunities for exponential growth or personal transformation. God uses unavoidable change to transform, equip and empower us for his work in the world.
At the Priory we have a fire alarm system that occasionally goes off for no apparent reason. Once it is ascertained that there is no danger, it is silenced by inserting a key into the panel. To the uninitiated, the required metal object is circular rather than key-shaped, and therefore easy to miss. Until you learn to recognise that it really is the key there is no way of silencing the deafening noise. Perhaps life is similar, for when ‘stuff’ happens over which we have little control, our emotional alarm system is triggered to alert the mind to danger and prompt the body to prepare for fight or flight.
Recognising that God cares and sets boundaries to what happens to us is the key that, once engaged, stills the clamour of our conflicting emotions. Being attentive to God’s action in our lives can also help to reduce anxiety and maintain a needful sense of perspective.
The Lord is doing a new thing among us! After months of prayers, discussion and building work, the lease has now been signed between Carisbrooke Priory and the Salvation Army, and soon our first seven residents will be moving in to live in the renovated north wing. We look forward to this with joy and expectation. So do pray for us as we embark on new aspects of our ministry together. And as we continue to embrace the necessary changes as part of our call to kingdom living, we trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to fill you, empower you and transform you to the image of Christ.
God, Who is infinitely creative, made us in His image. We are therefore often at our most contented when we are being creative. “There’s no accounting for taste” we sometimes say, evidencing the infinite variety of creative expressions, and our opinions concerning them.
I write poetry, but don’t much like reading it. It’s an outlet for my thoughts, rather like a diary, and in four years back on the Island amounts to around 1,000 “Priory Poems” and “Poetry in Residence” items! The former (by far the majority) are inspired by Priory life, the latter by Island life. As I don’t much like reading poetry, I seldom inflict my poems on others (except Maxine), unless asked. That seems fair.
So how do you express your God-given creativity? From time to time, I meet people who have yet to find an outlet, leaving them very frustrated. Some have been cruelly conditioned to believe that they have nothing to offer. But if creativity is God-given, He delights in all our honest offerings!
Which neatly brings me to the subject of offerings. God has really grabbed the attention of the Priory leadership now that the relative luxury of plenty of ‘money in the bank’ has largely been spent away. Hopefully, that spending has honoured Jesus, but maybe we took it for granted. The prayer life of this “House of Prayer” has dwindled in tandem with our reserves. It’s time to get back on our knees!
“Thus far the LORD has helped us” (1 Samuel 7 v 12) is surely true of 25 years of Carisbrooke Priory, which we will be celebrating throughout 2018. And with some of our rooms becoming ‘home’ to people for the first time in decades, we are confident that God hasn’t finished with the Priory yet. Heartfelt prayer promotes humble obedience, for which God will always provide. His account is always full, overflowing to fund His gracious generosity.
We thank God for our loyal band of regular givers, whose generosity keeps the Open Door open so that our visitors can experience the Peace of God. Is the Holy Spirit prompting you to join them?
Bob White - Chairman
Here is one of the first Priory Poems
IF WE BUILD
If we build it, they will come,
For they will hear Your call and follow your voice up to that Open Door.
And there You will place their hands into our own,
Knowing that a welcome will be shown,
Ready to restore.
If we build community,
A people in a place where You are worshipped, honoured and obeyed,
They will come to feel Your love and healing power,
More beautiful than any flower,
And peace will be made.
(Written 30 September 2014, at Carisbrooke Priory)
This will probably be the last time I write for the newsletter, as I am retiring from the Board of Trustees as of our Annual General Meeting in June this year. I gave notice of my intention to retire from being “a responsible adult” at last years’ AGM.
I know I have said many times in the past that I was retiring, and I am constantly being reminded that I have threatened to do so but have not done for many reasons. At the time of going to press, I am nearing my 81st birthday and this time I really mean I am resigning. That doesn’t mean that I will be leaving Carisbrooke Priory completely. I hope I will still be keeping the seat warm in reception for the foreseeable future.
My reason for this missive is to express my concern for some situations which I see as a little worrying. My major concern for the immediate future is the pressure on Bob, (Chairman) and Maxine who is administrator.
Following the retirement of Colin and Marja last August we have all been made aware of the amazing job that they did, over and above their job description, which has meant that somebody has had to pick up some of the tasks which they were doing. This has largely fallen to Bob, Maxine and Louise (who has been made house manager). Sharon and Evanthe have been employed in the kitchen, and they are doing a great job servicing the Tea Room. Of course it goes without saying the Priory wouldn’t survive without the Volunteers who do a wonderful job in all areas of need but especially in the Tea Room and garden. Bob, Maxine and Louise are all putting far more hours into the day-to-day servicing of Carisbrooke Priory.
Maxine and Louise are employed, but both work over and above what they are paid for. Whilst we try to make sure they take the time in lieu of overtime, there is no way that either of them can take all the time owed to them.
Bob’s situation is also worrying as he is now at the Priory four full days most weeks. The responsibility of Chairman is onerous, more so now than when I was in that position, due to the many changes taking place in the Ministry, which have been highlighted in previous newsletters.
Bob, Maxine and Louise have committed to serve God in this place. That does not mean that they have to work themselves to a standstill. Those of us who are called to support the ministry of the Priory have responsibilities to the work which we believe is God’s Commission. We need more Trustees, more volunteers, and whilst I am the last person to talk about financial needs, it is important that we increase our income, which is constantly exceeded by our out-goings. The current expenditure is unavoidable due to the increasing demands of building repairs to a 150-year old building, and the increases in salaries caused by minimum wage increases etc. Please bring these matters to God as you continue to pray for the ministry at the Priory. HE WILL PROVIDE, but we have to be His hands and voices as we continue in His service in this valuable Ministry to which we have all been called.
May God Bless You all as you serve Him. Many blessings for all who serve this valuable work.
He is the image of the invisible God,
our Creator taking human form
to dwell among us;
Infinity held in time and space,
so that we may see Him face to face, humble and generous.
God’s selfie: - Jesus Christ: the Man Who stands at the pivotal point of history.
Seen and heard, the Living Word,
so don’t let your vision become blurred: look at Christ
if it’s God’s face you want to see.
Events this Summer
25 YEARS OF OPEN DOOR WORSHIP
Thursday 10th May—Noon
Followed by refreshments
in the Tea Room
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Monday 11th June—9.30 a.m.—2.45 p.m.
Tea/coffee provided—please bring a packed lunch
To book, please contact Maxine on 01983 523354
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25th ANNIVERSARY GARDEN PARTY
Special Guest: Christopher, Bishop of Portsmouth
SATURDAY 21st JULY 2018
10.00 A.M.—2.00 P.M.
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During 2018, we shall be holding other events to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Carisbrooke Priory Trust.
Please keep checking the website, and also our Facebook page, for more details
Music for a Quiet Garden
Inspiring instrumental improvisations recorded exclusively for Carisbrooke Priory
by local musician Julian Wolfreys, using guitar and effects to create relaxing
£5.00 per copy—every penny goes towards the work of the Priory