Hothorpe Hall Holiday: a report

By Tracy Williamson

 Togetherness and belonging

hothorpegroupA few weeks have now passed since the Open Ears holiday/conference break at Hothorpe Hall and I am still feeling the good effects. Although only a smallish group of us could go (18), the overriding feeling was of togetherness and belonging. We were housed in a new mini conference complex in the grounds of the big hall, comprising a single open plan meeting room, refreshment area and dining room. This was surrounded by our wooden accommodation, lovely modern but cosy twin and double cabins. This Woodlands Suite was nestled in the lovely wooded grounds of Hothorpe Hall and caused our time there to have a real feeling of intimacy and friendship.

Chaplain to the deaf, Rev Gill Beheema was our speaker, sharing with us on the theme of ‘living life to the full’ her talks were very rich, meaningful and inspiring to us all and encouraging many of us to think in new ways about our lives and share together our hopes and dreams.

Like many deaf people I can find socialising and making connection with others difficult but during this break there was such a sense of belonging, a sense that everyone mattered to the group and with the help of the lovely local signers Averill and Karen and speech to text needs masterfully covered by Susanne and Diane, all needs were catered for and it was a joy to see and experience being able to be part of a group, to share, to follow someone else sharing, to pray aloud, to sing at the right time, to laugh and to cry with others….

The break was not just about meetings, there was lots of fun too, exploring the old Hall and its amazing grounds together, Goldie my Hearing Dog finding huge old fallen apples everywhere, Nadine and Dominic, Susanne and Vic’s gorgeous babies bringing joy and fun to the whole group, early walks in the dark with Christine, shopping in Market Harborough, trying creative writing, colouring in, meditative drawing…Sharing lovely meals together and the Lord’s supper, so peaceful yet so holy. A most beautiful and enriching time and heartfelt thanks to all who made it so.

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Reflection: Stained Glass Windows

By Mary Bucknall

Photograph of a Victorian stained glass window depicting the parable of the Good Samaritan at St Dionysius’ Church, Market Harborough, Leicestershire. (It is interesting to note that instead of the traditional ass, the artist shows a Leicestershire hunter, reflecting the town’s importance as a hunting centre.)

Photograph of a Victorian stained glass window depicting the parable of the Good Samaritan at St Dionysius’ Church, Market Harborough, Leicestershire. (It is interesting to note that instead of the traditional ass, the artist shows a Leicestershire hunter, reflecting the town’s importance as a hunting centre.)

Once I went to an early morning Communion service at the local parish church of All Saints. As I could not hear the sermon, I decided to read the Bible as I usually do, but then I looked up at the magnificent stained glass window at the east end of the church, designed by Hugh Easton and unveiled at a special service of dedication in 1953.

I gazed at it. There were 28 emblems of saints in 4 columns of 7 rows – all a riot of heraldic colour. St Peter’s keys, St John’s eagle, St Mark’s winged lion, St Luke’s winged bull, St Matthew’s angel, St James’s scallop shell, St Matthias’ dice, St Thomas’ spears, the list could go on.

I was learning visually what I could not grasp aurally through colour about each of the saints’ lives depicted in that window. It was a visual feast! During the Communion the sun shone through the All Saints window, casting a medley of colours onto the stone floor of the church.

There’s a story to be told in each stained glass window to be found in our cathedrals and parish churches up and down the land. Some depict the parables and stories of Jesus, such as the parable of the Good Samaritan and the story of the Good Shepherd holding the lost sheep. Others depict images taken from everyday life, for example the 22 species of birds in the St Francis of Assisi window in St Mary’s Church, Selborne, Hampshire.

Often known as the “poor man’s Bible”, these windows ministered to the illiterate folk of times past, as well as being memorials to the deceased – with all the history that this involves.

More modern windows of contemporary design include those installed to mark the Millennium in 2000, as in St Michael and All Angels’ Church, Highworth, Wiltshire.

Stained glass windows are a vast heritage, the result of painstaking hours of work by designer and craftsman – the artist, the glazier, the metalworker, the stonemason – all for the greater glory of God.

View previous Reflection articles

Paralympics
Hearing Only With the Ears?

Dare to be Different

The Lost Coin

Running

All the World’s a Stage?

To Know and Be Known
Hands

A New Year’s Revelation
A New Year’s Reflection

A Christmas Reflection
Choices, Choices
Intelligent Machines
Life After Death
Life’s Challenges Pt. 2
The Shattered Glass
Not Quite the Damascus Road
A Home for the Lord
The Chair

Happiness
The New Age of Martyrs

A God of Second Chances
Acceptance & Rejection
New Lights
New Things
More Thoughts on Christmas
Thoughts on Christmas

The Vastness of Creation

Unexpected Treasure

Life’s Challenges
Home is where the Heart is
Beyond Fear to Exhiliarating Trust
Friends
Sticks and Stones
Beauty in the Chaos
God and Creation
Perfect Timing
The Lord is near
Having fun and taking new steps with our friends
A friend who stands where we stand, and weeps with us
Remain in Me

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Reflection: Paralympics

By Christine Pitts

Paralympics GB's David Weir competes in the men's T54 1500m race a test event at Olympic StadiumHow exciting the Paralympics were! They were especially exciting for me because two of the athletes were from the town where I live, New Milton in Hampshire – Mikey Jones, aged 22, and Alice Tai, aged 17, both are swimmers. Mikey has cerebral palsy and as a youngster he used to come to the First Opportunities Group where I worked.

This group is for children aged from birth to 4 years who have special needs. In 2012 he had three very big operations, and then seven weeks before the Paralympics his father sadly died. Mikey was very close to his father and took two locks of his hair with him to Rio as an encouragement. Alice goes to a school near our church which is a school the church works very closely with by taking assemblies and giving encouragement to the children and teachers. Alice was born with two club feet and deformed legs and between the ages of twenty weeks and twelve years she had fourteen operations to fuse her feet and ankles together so she has no movement in them at all. Between them Mikey and Alice won two gold, one silver and one bronze medal! Our town is so proud of them that the Mayor is giving them a banquet and two gold seats will be erected in the park!

I think I heard that Mikey and Alice were actually afraid of the water when they were young but were encouraged to look for different things to try and were able to overcome their fear. All the athletes who took part in the Paralympics have had to overcome enormous obstacles and challenges but in accepting that there are certain things they are unable to do, they have found alternative things that they can do and have worked hard at developing and perfecting those things, the results have been amazing and an inspiration and encouragement for us all to keep persevering when life is difficult and we are struggling to keep going. Personally when I became deaf my biggest frustration was no longer being able to join in singing and playing the piano, but I discovered that the words of hymns have far more meaning to me than when I was trying to concentrate on both the music and the words. I also decided to try something new and have found much fun and joy in running with the local running club and will sometimes wear a label on my back saying ‘deaf runner’ which often brings people to me for a chat which is lovely. So when you are struggling take inspiration from the Paralympians, try doing things in a different way, keep persevering and don’t give up.

View previous Reflection articles

Hearing Only With the Ears?
Dare to be Different

The Lost Coin

Running

All the World’s a Stage?

To Know and Be Known
Hands

A New Year’s Revelation
A New Year’s Reflection

A Christmas Reflection
Choices, Choices
Intelligent Machines
Life After Death
Life’s Challenges Pt. 2
The Shattered Glass
Not Quite the Damascus Road
A Home for the Lord
The Chair

Happiness
The New Age of Martyrs

A God of Second Chances
Acceptance & Rejection
New Lights
New Things
More Thoughts on Christmas
Thoughts on Christmas

The Vastness of Creation

Unexpected Treasure

Life’s Challenges
Home is where the Heart is
Beyond Fear to Exhiliarating Trust
Friends
Sticks and Stones
Beauty in the Chaos
God and Creation
Perfect Timing
The Lord is near
Having fun and taking new steps with our friends
A friend who stands where we stand, and weeps with us
Remain in Me

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Reflection: Hearing only with the Ears?

By Marylin Kilsby

Two weeks ago, I was privileged to represent Open Ears at a conference run by Churchear, a European organisation similar to Open Ears. The conference theme, shown above, was:

Girl listening with her hand on an earSo faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
(Romans 10:17).

Does this mean that if we don’t physically hear the Gospel, or don’t hear the preacher on a Sunday, or don’t hear the people in our House group, that we can’t be true Christians? Of course not! However much we may miss because of our deafness, God has many other ways of speaking to us.

An introductory talk at the conference listed what the word “hearing” can mean. This includes the concepts of acceptance, understanding, taking in, thinking about. In some European languages, hearing can also mean inclusion.

People at the conference came from nine different nations and, consequently, there were nine different first languages. Most of us had varying degrees of hearing losses and the rest were pastors or ministers with special responsibility for, or an interest in, deaf and hard of hearing people. However, even at mealtimes where there is so much background noise, and even though I was the only person there with English as my first language, I was relaxed and enjoyed the conversation and communication. This was because we were all deaf aware, not afraid to try communicating using gesture, spoken languages and providing extra clues as required. There was much laughter and a real sense of belonging. And inclusion.

Oh yes, we were all “hearing” each other.

So in what other ways, apart from physical hearing, can we hear the Lord? We can read His word, the Bible and Christian books. We can pray, or sing, or wait before Him. He can speak to us through His Creation, too. God sent His Holy Spirit so that we might hear Him. Deaf Christians can hear Him just as clearly as Christians with normal hearing.

In a previous church, I used to get frustrated when I missed what was being said.

Then I realised that I would always be able to hear whatever the Lord wanted me to hear and the frustration lifted.

Jesus said:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27).

Let us be encouraged and rest in that promise.

View previous Reflection articles

Dare to be Different
The Lost Coin

Running

All the World’s a Stage?

To Know and Be Known
Hands

A New Year’s Revelation
A New Year’s Reflection

A Christmas Reflection
Choices, Choices
Intelligent Machines
Life After Death
Life’s Challenges Pt. 2
The Shattered Glass
Not Quite the Damascus Road
A Home for the Lord
The Chair

Happiness
The New Age of Martyrs

A God of Second Chances
Acceptance & Rejection
New Lights
New Things
More Thoughts on Christmas
Thoughts on Christmas

The Vastness of Creation

Unexpected Treasure

Life’s Challenges
Home is where the Heart is
Beyond Fear to Exhiliarating Trust
Friends
Sticks and Stones
Beauty in the Chaos
God and Creation
Perfect Timing
The Lord is near
Having fun and taking new steps with our friends
A friend who stands where we stand, and weeps with us
Remain in Me

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Reflection: Dare to be Different

By Mary Bucknall

You may wonder why I have chosen this title for a Reflection, “Dare to be Different”.

sheepWhile I was reading some of the Gospels, I was struck by Jesus’ daring to be different on a number of occasions. One of the earliest stories is in Luke 2: 41-51.

When he was 12 years old, he travelled on foot up to Jerusalem with his parents to commemorate the Passover feast. On the way back to Nazareth he was reported missing and his parents anxiously searched for him among the assembled company of travellers.

They returned to Jerusalem and found him three days later sitting in the Temple among the wise and learned elders, listening and asking questions of them all. His mother reproached him for disappearing without trace and causing her and Joseph great anxiety. Jesus replied, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know I must be about my Father’s business?”

Afterwards he went down with his parents and was obedient to them, although it must be recognised he was a year away from attaining maturity (as Jewish boys today traditionally celebrate their Barmitzvah at the age of 13).

Again Jesus gave his followers the slip when he got up very early and went out to a lonely place in the desert to pray. They had a job to find him! He then told them that his mission was to preach the good news to people in other towns (Mark 1:35-39).

Jesus flouted the social norms of the day by healing people on the Sabbath, which was classed as a form of work. By doing this he came into ideological conflict with the Pharisees and scribes of the day, who were very influential in their own right, and therefore he sowed the seeds of his own suffering and death. The Cross and the Resurrection lay in the future, all unknown, of course.

The night following the Last Supper a crowd armed with swords and clubs, Judas Iscariot amongst them, came looking for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. However, Jesus did not evade his captors as might have been expected, but went willingly with them back into the city, heading towards his trial on trumped up charges and his death on the Cross.

After the Resurrection the women came to the tomb looking for Jesus. He was not there! An angel told them that Jesus had been raised and was going on before the disciples into Galilee, where they would see him, just as he had told them.

By “daring to be different” Jesus was indeed taking a huge risk. But that is how the Kingdom of God is proclaimed, at unexpected times and in unexpected ways, turning traditional dogma on its head.

Are we willing to dare to be different, to take a risk for Him? Life will be more exciting, yes, more dangerous, yes, more glorious for Him!

View previous Reflection articles

The Lost Coin
Running

All the World’s a Stage?

To Know and Be Known
Hands

A New Year’s Revelation
A New Year’s Reflection

A Christmas Reflection
Choices, Choices
Intelligent Machines
Life After Death
Life’s Challenges Pt. 2
The Shattered Glass
Not Quite the Damascus Road
A Home for the Lord
The Chair

Happiness
The New Age of Martyrs

A God of Second Chances
Acceptance & Rejection
New Lights
New Things
More Thoughts on Christmas
Thoughts on Christmas

The Vastness of Creation

Unexpected Treasure

Life’s Challenges
Home is where the Heart is
Beyond Fear to Exhiliarating Trust
Friends
Sticks and Stones
Beauty in the Chaos
God and Creation
Perfect Timing
The Lord is near
Having fun and taking new steps with our friends
A friend who stands where we stand, and weeps with us
Remain in Me

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HOTHORPE HALL 24-28 OCTOBER 2016

hothorpe hall
Living Life To The Full

Come and join us for a Monday to Friday time of fellowship, worship, teaching, fun and relaxation, at the stunning new venue, Woodlands, situated in the grounds of Hothorpe Hall.

gill behenna

Gill Behenna

Gill Behenna will be our speaker, and our theme will be ‘Living life to the full’. Gill is the National Advisor for Deaf Ministry, the Chaplain for the deaf in Bristol, a Trustee of the Deaf-led charity ‘Go! Sign’ and also works voluntarily for ‘Signs of God’, a Christian training organisation.

The town of Market Harborough is just 10 minutes away, with a lovely memorial garden, tea shops and shopping. Leicester is not too far away and there are other local interesting attractions to visit. Tracy Williamson has offered to give us a workshop on creative writing, and other workshops are planned.

Places are limited – so please return your Booking Form as soon as you can!

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Reflection: The Lost Coin

By Ken & Jean Wiggett

shutterstock_77814409-300x300Recently, Ken and I had been out and about shopping for most of the day; visiting what seemed like innumerable shops and stores in our town centre. Towards the end of that day I decided to finish shopping in a large supermarket: by then, Ken was in a lot of pain with his back and decided to rest in the car.

When I reached to get something off the supermarket shelf I was struck with horror. My wedding ring was no longer on my finger! I frantically looked around on the floor then inside my gloves, pockets, bags etc, but to no avail. By this time I was very panicky and my thoughts were racing; wondering where it could be. Perhaps it had come off in my washing up gloves that I had taken off after doing the breakfast washing up. Unable to concentrate, I paid for my shopping and despairingly left the store. I decided not to tell Ken until we got home: it could be in the washing up gloves. No need to worry him, not just yet anyway.

When I got home, I frantically went straight to the washing up gloves, but no trace of it!

It was time to tell Ken, who remained remarkably calm. Together we prayed about it. I then telephoned each store we had visited. Each call was met by the same polite response: ‘No madam, it hasn’t been handed in, but leave your name and address………’. I was beginning to give up. It was lost and I wasn’t going to see it again. It was now getting late and many of those stores were approaching closing time. I was so downhearted, but as a last ditch attempt, I rang Boots the Chemist. ‘Yes, madam’. Did the assistant say ‘yes’? A ring had indeed been handed in. ‘When would you like to come in and collect it?’ My only quiet response was ‘thank you Lord’, followed by tears of joy.

On our way out of the retirement complex where we live I told everyone we met that I had lost my wedding ring but now it had been found. I was so happy. Ken remarked that I sounded like the lady in the parable of the ‘Lost Coin’.

But of course, we know, that there is so much more meaning to the ‘Lost Coin’ parable we read of in the Gospel of Luke chapter 15 verses 8-10 and how the Angels in Heaven rejoice when each and every one of us who was Lost, is found.

Jesus Christ our Redeemer is searching, longingly seeking something infinitely more valuable than even my precious wedding ring. With so much evil in the World; daily hearing and reading about so many truly atrocious, dreadfully wicked events and wrong doing, those ‘Lost Coins’: people without the saving love of Jesus, are too numerous to count.

Please take a few minutes now to Pray for all those ‘Lost Coins’ that they also may be Found and in so doing, discover their one true Redeemer – Jesus Christ.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
– Newton
View previous Reflection articles

Running
All the World’s a Stage?

To Know and Be Known
Hands

A New Year’s Revelation
A New Year’s Reflection

A Christmas Reflection
Choices, Choices
Intelligent Machines
Life After Death
Life’s Challenges Pt. 2
The Shattered Glass
Not Quite the Damascus Road
A Home for the Lord
The Chair

Happiness
The New Age of Martyrs

A God of Second Chances
Acceptance & Rejection
New Lights
New Things
More Thoughts on Christmas
Thoughts on Christmas

The Vastness of Creation

Unexpected Treasure

Life’s Challenges
Home is where the Heart is
Beyond Fear to Exhiliarating Trust
Friends
Sticks and Stones
Beauty in the Chaos
God and Creation
Perfect Timing
The Lord is near
Having fun and taking new steps with our friends
A friend who stands where we stand, and weeps with us
Remain in Me

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Reflection: Running

By Christine Pitts

best-running-shoes-for-high-archesWhen I was around 40 years old life was very busy with growing children to look after, work, elderly frail parents needing a lot of help, plus a dog who required plenty of exercise. Despite never liking or being any good at sport whilst at school I had the mad idea of running with the dog every day instead of walking as I thought it would save me some time. However after several weeks of trying to run I still couldn’t manage even a mile so in another mad moment I decided to join the local running club, the New Forest Runners, and with the encouragement they gave me I was soon running several miles, feeling extremely fit, finding I had more energy, and most surprisingly of all I was enjoying it. 30 years on and I’m still enjoying running although am now much slower and no longer run marathons. In the summer we have some really beautiful runs in the forest; at one time we had a Coach who delighted in taking us on the wettest, muddiest runs he could find so that by the end of the evening we were usually in a gloriously mucky state! The winter months find us running around the town and only ending up wet when it’s raining.

Sometimes running seems so easy that you feel you can run for ever but at other times it is really hard work especially when there is a strong wind or it’s freezing cold or very hot or there are steep hills to climb, and it would be so easy to give up. However it is during those difficult runs that your body grows stronger and learns to keep going despite the pain, and at the end of the run there is a great sense of achievement. Life is very similar, at times it is wonderful and easy and you enjoy every minute but at other times we are faced with problems and difficulties and don’t know how to continue, but Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9.25 “run in such a way as to get the prize…a crown that will last for ever”.

When I’m not running with the club one of my favourite runs is from home to the sea and then along the cliff tops with fantastic views of the Isle of Wight in one direction, and Bournemouth and the Purbeck hills in the other direction. Not long ago I was running along the road leading to the sea when I was stopped by a big yellow road sign telling me that the road ahead was closed; every road around had diversion signs, each one with an arrow pointing in a different direction which must have been extremely confusing for any visitors, although for me it was no problem as I knew where every road went.

It made me think how wonderful it is when we follow Jesus, his road is never closed because his way is the only way that leads to life in all its fullness. However we do sometimes wander off the road when temptation distracts us only to find that every direction has a sign suggesting that we try a different way but this just results in stress and confusion, but Jesus is always waiting for us to return to his way, he never gives up on us and he never loses patience with us because he loves us too much to let us continue in the wrong direction, so let us keep our eyes on Jesus for he alone is “the way, the truth and the life”.

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Reflection: All the World’s a Stage?

By Marylin Kilsby

william-shakespeare-portrait11As many will know, William Shakespeare has been mentioned rather frequently in the media recently. Shakespeare died aged 52 four hundred years ago, on 23 rd April 1616. A recent visit to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre next to the River Thames reminded me of one of his famous quotes, from his play “As You Like It”:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances…

Space doesn’t permit the full quote. It’s written beautifully, as befits the Bard, but Shakespeare’s perspective on life is that it is rather meaningless, a treadmill, especially when it comes to older age:

… mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Reassuringly, we as Christians can know that God, our Heavenly Father, gives us a completely different take on life. Our lives are never, ever futile, never, ever useless. We know that God’s plans for us are good:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

The hope we have is not a crossing-your-fingers kind of hope but a sure knowledge that we have a purpose, something to do, something to look forward to. Maybe our lives aren’t particularly exciting; they might even be painful or challenging but God is with us and He will never let us down. There is always a future and He wants to be at the centre of it. We will never be sans (without) everything. We will always have our Jesus with us. Even when our life on earth draws to a close, we have a whole, heavenly, eternal future ahead! Paul writes, in his epistle to the Romans:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Amen.

 

View previous Reflection articles

To Know and Be Known
Hands

A New Year’s Revelation
A New Year’s Reflection

A Christmas Reflection
Choices, Choices
Intelligent Machines
Life After Death
Life’s Challenges Pt. 2
The Shattered Glass
Not Quite the Damascus Road
A Home for the Lord
The Chair

Happiness
The New Age of Martyrs

A God of Second Chances
Acceptance & Rejection
New Lights
New Things
More Thoughts on Christmas
Thoughts on Christmas

The Vastness of Creation

Unexpected Treasure

Life’s Challenges
Home is where the Heart is
Beyond Fear to Exhiliarating Trust
Friends
Sticks and Stones
Beauty in the Chaos
God and Creation
Perfect Timing
The Lord is near
Having fun and taking new steps with our friends
A friend who stands where we stand, and weeps with us
Remain in Me

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It’s Deaf Awareness Week!

deafDEAF AWARENESS WEEK 2-8 MAY 2016

Did you know that Open Ears can offer Deaf Awareness talks and other resources, such as information leaflets, by arrangement with the National Committee?

The aim is to raise awareness of hearing loss, which is all too often underestimated as it is an invisible disability, and to help hard of hearing and deafened people to feel more included in church life. Open Ears can also provide information on setting up hearing loops in church buildings.

For more details please click on “Contact Us”.

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