In less than six weeks Christians from all across Europe will gather in Birmingham for "Hidden Treasure". A weekend being organised by the Taizé community, Friday 28th April - Monday 1st May.
The title 'Hidden Treasure' is taken from the Gospel Parable (Matthew 13:44). The gathering will be a chance to explore and celebrate some of the hidden treasures of our faith, those found in scripture and prayer, and those found in the many concrete acts of solidarity being taken by Christians on behalf of those around them, often the most disadvantaged.
One such Hidden Treasure is a community project in the Winson Green area of Birmingham. Sam Ewell, a community pastor, organiser and theologian, has been reflecting and exploring the theme of how Christians are called to live in the midst of the discarded. He comments: "We live in a culture which discards all sort of things very easily. Our society is continually throwing things away. We throw away food, food waste, packaging, single-use items. But worse of all we throw away people, HMP Birmingham in Winson Green is a very visible symbol of this wider culture of discarding people."
"But", asks Sam, "what if we turned things round the other way? God doesn't create things that are useless, God doesn't throw anything or anyone away. So what if we start with the things, and the people, who have been thrown away? And begin to manifest God's kingdom from there."
Sam is involved in prison ministry inside HMP Birmingham, and with work to reintegrate former prisoners after their release. Alongside this work he has been developing a community gardening project with the intention of both producing food and of beautifying the local area. The project uses discarded food waste and organic materials to create compost, and other materials are also used, recently Sam collected the fallen branches of Storm Doris to create and made woodchip for pathways.
During the Hidden Treasure Weekend Sam and other will be leading a workshop exploring this theme, they are looking forward to sharing their story, and to hearing about what others are doing.
For more details go to: www.taize.fr/birmingham
A video of Sam Ewell introducing his workshop can be viewed at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc9gW84VCQ0