Thursday 3 August 2023
Once again much water has flowed under many bridges since last I added to this site. No need for tedious explanations, rather I'll offer this selecion of recent birthday pieces and a couple of re-discoveries linked loosely to this time of year.
Friday 8 January 2021
Ah, yes, a rather full five years have elapsed since the last update. Way too much to cover in this setting. So I'll just add some pieces from those years and then make it my intention to use and add to the site more often from now on.
3 October 2016
It's been a busy time since the last entry. Here is a piece which captures a few minutes during the Summer. 'Cafe by the Ardeche'.
9 April 2016
Spring has arrived, vigorously ... my new hip is settling in well... and off we go again though never quite as before - se 'The last onion'.
13 January 2016
Having passed 60 at Christmas I'm thinking that it is time to stop worriting on with questions of purpose and mortality, and simply get on with living. 'Re-Calibration' is my attempt to do just that.
20 July 2015
Pastoral church newsletters are not usually considered ground breaking literature, but having sweated over this one I thought it might be of interest to a wider readership than the Norwich Area churches for whom it is intended.
July 2 2015
A day of hot, crackling sun which reminds me of other days like this from a long time ago. The border pinks from our childhood garden which are now blooming here in Pakefield reinforces that good memory. See 'Pink Buttonholes'.
June 15 2015
After weeks of waiting and willing the peony buds to open out into blooms today seems to be the day!
Also a hand out which accompanied two Praying with clay workshops held last Sarurday at the URC Eastern Synod day out in Cambridge. No expertise was offered by me or required by the particpants but, rather like the peony, creativity bloomed anyway.
April 27 2015
A new week and a new poem relating how events of some 30 years ago came to an unexpected resolution - see 'Miss G's Revenge'. This is followed by a collection of pieces produced for last year's May Day event at the Seagull Theatre.
April 21 2015
Spring is well under way, the sun shines and a quiet few hours have enabled the website to go live. You will see that it is far from complete but some recent material is now available and other archive stuff will appear soon.
March 24 2015
After many months offline the fosten.com website 'Heaven in Ordinarie' is gradually returning. The new site will grow as and when I acquire some 'how to do it' knowledge and find a few moments in which to post material
If you have always wanted to ask me something, now is the time to go for it!
Playing and praying with clay
This workshop lets you play with clay. If that is what you would like to do then please simply enjoy this time in your own way - experiment with rolling, stretching, moulding and assembling the clay into shapes that you find pleasing. (Warning: don't attempt to make structures that are too fine or thin - the clay prefers to kept a little chunky!) The clay used dries to a light grey colour in air and does not need to be fired in a kiln.
Alternatively, you may wish to follow this simple exercise:
Inside the fingertips of God
Read or listen to the Bible story of how God creates the world in Genesis 1:1 - 2:4a. Spend a little while allowing your imagination to wander with that story. Now read the story of Jesus healing a blind person in Mark 8:22 - 26 and again, let you imagination wander within what you have just read.
Now take your piece of clay and hold it lightly with your fingertips. 'Doodle' with it (quite difficult for people who are more used to being task-driven - but do persevere) and get to know its texture and how it responds to the pressure of your fingers. Allow a simple shape to form and then see if you can let that shape develop into something interesting and (even) recognisable! From time to time sit back from your creation and view it from a distance. Don't be embarrassed to take delight in what you are making. If you seem to reach a dead end don't be afraid to start again. Remember, simple and chunky is good and over-ambition can disappoint!
When you feel that you have completed your creation take time quietly to consider what you have done. Allow your mind to bring into focus people, places and opportunities that are a concern to you or are for other reasons uppermost in your thinking just now. When you have thought and, in you mind's eye, moulded these concerns into something more satisfactory or whole or peaceful you may like to use this prayer:
Creator God, whose fingertips
brought shape, life and purpose
out of that which was formless and dull ....
Saviour Jesus, whose fingertips
cleared filth, dis-ease and prejudice
from eyes that could not or would not see ....
Life-giving Spirit, whose fingertips
mould, shape and draw my life
into your Kingdom purpose ....
.... use well the work of my hands,
my heart, my mind and my will. Amen.
Ian Fosten : June 2015 : www.fosten.com
On 8 August 34 years ago I began my ministry within the United Reformed Church. Life then was buoyant and flourishing both within church and also within the local community, and we all had a real sense of building on the good work of previous generations. Since those heady days immense and, at times, bewildering social changes have occurred in Britain. For example, in 1981 at the beginning and end of each day almost all our local children walked across the Ipswich Road to attend playgroup, first or middle schools on the Tuckswood council estate. A decade later estate agents were advising house-buyers to send their offspring to schools in 'nicer' areas of the city - a car journey away. An un-self-conscious sense of 'community' fragmented into so many unconnected individual choices. With hindsight, it comes as little surprise that, simultaneously, popular Christianity has ebbed away from mainstream churches (who have not been without their faults) either towards new expressions of church for whom the bottom line is rather less about building God's kingdom in community and rather more about who gets to heaven when we die, or to no active belief at all.
In the light of all that being a part of the URC these days requires an ever strengthening belief in resurrection and, however unfashionable, that there has to be an alternative to either the growing churches' emotional, consumer driven worship experience which too often lacks sustainable intellectual content, or to opting out of 'organized' religion all together. I hang in with the URC because, for the sake of current and future generations, someone has to be showing that through simplicity, quietness, good poetry and music, thoughtfulness, intelligent listening to the Bible, honest asking of questions, and gentle sharing of faith, this authentic ‘middle way’ may be found.
Middle ways (as the Liberal Democrats experienced at the last general election) are not popular, but experience teaches that without middle-of-the-road, thoughtful, moderation the fundamentalists and the narcissists run the show. And that, long term, does nobody any good - as the Kalashnikov wavers and the smug dismantlers of the welfare state illustrate daily. Two millennia ago, the radical zealots found Jesus frustrating because he chose the route of the cross rather than violent insurrection: likewise, the religious purists mistrusted his enthusiasm for the life-giving spirit and not the dead letter of the Law.
And so we keep on keeping on, faithfully .... in NAURC there are a couple of initiatives which may strengthen us: a discussion group for readers of Reform has begun successfully and next meets at St Stephen's church on Theatre Street on Wednesday 26 August at 11 am: and Malcolm Wright is starting a monthly Julian Meeting (silent prayer) at Princes St URC from Friday 4 September at 12 noon...oh, and of course, there is the consistent, ongoing work and witness of your own congregation quietly and steadily building the Kingdom in your community.
Have a good Summer.