Category Archives: Godsmacked

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Here we go again……….

You could be forgiven for thinking that the US was the only place on Earth there was an election going on.

While the quality of candidates both here and there are about on par, you probable won’t get  wealthy business people from the US suggesting we need a dictator to step in, as we have here in Australia!!

At the very basic level you would hope our political leaders would be the voice of the voiceless and not the wealthy!!

Sure perhaps an enquiry into the union movement is needed, so is one into the banking and finance sector, sadly the issues with the bank/ finance sector are not seen as moral issues, only of the safe schools program or marriage equality are deemed to be the only ‘moral’ issues up for debate.

We ought to be providing housing for the homeless, shelter for the asylum seeker and support for those who have issues around their mental health.
Sadly these issues are left to smaller political parties with weird names.

So as we become further disillusioned with our politicians we sail towards a ‘hung parliament’.

If we do have a ‘Hung’ Parliament lets hope its ‘Well Hung”!!!


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‘popup church’.

POPUP is an informal get together of people, who have faith communities, but sometimes like to to discuss, vent, encourage, be encouraged and heard in a different setting.
Today three of us spent one and a half hours drinking coffee/hot chocolate and discussing matters of faith and personal stuff.
We are quite different, rather than look for differences we share what we have in common and challenge and are challenged to think and rethink what we believe and why.
It is always good to listen and be heard, and to go away knowing we love and care for each other.
One person who is a regular, has recently moved back with partner and family after a time of separation,another is a single dad coping with all the stuff of life and who hangs out with ‘dangerous’ people, then there is me, who struggles to make sense of doubt and faith.

Together we travel this road we call ‘our faith journey’, and together discover the importance of life before death!!

It’s a mixed group, crazy group, and its sinners and saints together making sense of life


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TAKE MY ADVICE I DONT NEED IT.

A recently spotted Tshirt with words, take my advice I don’t need it, caught my attention.

Not having ever being big on offering advice however, it did ring a few alarm bells for me!!

It was a reminder to be a ‘do as I do not do as say kind of person’.

It’s easy to tell others how to act, behave…..add your own favourite here!!

It reminded me of Jesus, much more than ‘being an example’ Jesus ‘exampled’.

So I will take my own advice first.


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Still Small Voice

In the bigger scheme of things, where you have your morning coffee in not that important…..right?

Maybe not, but sometimes you have to listen to that ‘small still voice’.

Recently as i was riding into the city for my daily loitering activities, I had my mind made up where i would go first and get a long black!!
As I neared my destination, something, I call a ‘still small voice’ suggested an alternate venue.

I listened, and went to another cafe instead, had my coffee and you guessed it nothing happened, that is until I was skulking back to the bike, when out of nowhere a pair of arms came around me from behind and I got a bear hug.

It was a bloke I had met once, at the funeral for Les, which I wrote about last year.

We hugged and chatted for a time, which was good for the heart!!

We parted company a short time later, and I now listen more carefully to the ‘small still voice’, maybe just maybe its God and maybe I should listen.

PS Please don’t tell The Ruth, she says I never listen!!!!


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Don’t stop dreaming

One of my grandsons, Atticus a beautiful boy aged three going on 20, was asked by his mother if he had a good night sleep?

‘Well i did but my head didn’t “
“Oh really? How come?”
“My head just didn’t have any dreams”.

We need dreamers don’t stop dreaming.

Category : Community , Family , Godsmacked , Joy , life , Love , respect


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church isn’t a DENOMINATION

Baltimore – where the “Star Spangled Banner” was written is a nice place. That’s about as effusive I wish to be about this small but strangely charming city.

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Again though, like Denver and certain parts of Houston, it’s the people that make the place special and I mean extra special.

Wandering the centre city of Baltimore took me a few minutes and after talking to a very nice police man (in a fast pursuit vehicle, all the criminals must be overweight) I made my way towards the meet up point for my lift to #BreakingBread. Thank you Julie, I would never have found it on my own!

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So three ministers walked into a church, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian and an Episcopalian. And that’s not a joke – Jenn, Sara and Jason run Breaking Bread. I don’t know the history or who did what with whom but Breaking Bread is another one of those simple church ideas that are just outstandingly wonderful. It’s not rocket science to do this sort if thing but wow it is very powerful, and those of us who haven’t thought of it before go, “I wish I’d thought of that!” IMG_0464

All it is (and I don’t mean to sound like I’m putting it down, I’m not I’m raising it as high as I can and jumping up and down shouting “WE ALL SHOULD DO THIS…”) all it is, in essence, is a simple service, a simple meal and and a simple Bible study. #BreakingBread’s brilliance comes from two things – the atmosphere and the people.

I may not have the order of the next bit quite right but you’ll get the general idea.

The night I went Rev Jason wasn’t there and Rev Jenn was leading and Rev Sara was in charge of the food. You kind of just walk in and do stuff. I was ordered (nicely) to help lay the tables – cutlery and candles were what I did, and they look great.

IMG_0462Being the summer holidays they weren’t expecting a full house only about 20 (I’d love a Bible Study of about 20). Four tables were set up, some food was prepared (mainly asparagus, THE vegetable of Breaking Bread) and things began. It started with a simple service of singing and prayers and a very simple (but amazingly profound) Communion service in which we all stood and served each other the bread. It was a very moving experience and God was there, in the eyes of the homeless guy across the circle from me, in the smile of the person handing me the bread. It was another Holy experience in a borrowed church hall. IMG_0467

The wine was shared around our tables and the act of moving from one place to another between the elements was great. It made me feel like what we were doing was communal (all in the circle together) and yet also individual as we drank from our own cups in our places by the table. Again very simple ideas brilliantly done.

After the service (which was maybe 10 minutes) we went for the food like ravenous beasts, sharing talk and laughs at the various tables. This wasn’t rushed and there was a feeling of community there – hard to describe but there was a ‘freeness’ to the proceedings that can only come from everyone wanting the same outcome. I’m sure that doesn’t do it justice but it’s hard to describe.

After seconds Jenn (the Presbyterian (yay for John Calvin)) led us in a Bible study that I will not describe here as I intend to use the idea at our church (she’ll never know!!). Once again the way it was done was simple yet the content was very thought provoking and the discussions at our table was deep and serious.

It was a wonderful night (everyone helped with the clearing up as well) in which a stranger from a long way away was made to feel very much part of a worshipping community. He was offered food and spiritual comfort, companionship and conversation, teaching and love. It was all very New Testament, early church, true Christian Community in action stuff and I loved it. I’d go every week if I didn’t live 8,500 miles away.

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Thank you to the Breaking Bread team, you are the real presence of God at work!!

 


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church isn’t a DENOMINATION

Baltimore – where the “Star Spangled Banner” was written is a nice place. That’s about as effusive I wish to be about this small but strangely charming city.

 

Again though, like Denver and certain parts of Houston, it’s the people that make the place special and I mean extra special.

Wandering the centre city of Baltimore took me a few minutes and after talking to a very nice police man (in a fast pursuit vehicle, all the criminals must be overweight) I made my way towards the meet up point for my lift to #BreakingBread. Thank you Julie, I would never have found it on my own!

 

So three ministers walked into a church, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian and an Episcopalian. And that’s not a joke – Jenn, Sara and Jason run Breaking Bread. I don’t know the history or who did what with whom but Breaking Bread is another one of those simple church ideas that are just outstandingly wonderful. It’s not rocket science to do this sort if thing but wow it is very powerful, and those of us who haven’t thought of it before go, “I wish I’d thought of that!”

All it is (and I don’t mean to sound like I’m putting it down, I’m not I’m raising it as high as I can and jumping up and down shouting “WE ALL SHOULD DO THIS…”) all it is, in essence, is a simple service, a simple meal and and a simple Bible study. #BreakingBread’s brilliance comes from two things – the atmosphere and the people.

I may not have the order of the next bit quite right but you’ll get the general idea.

The night I went Rev Jason wasn’t there and Rev Jenn was leading and Rev Sara was in charge of the food. You kind of just walk in and do stuff. I was ordered (nicely) to help lay the tables – cutlery and candles were what I did, and they look great.

Being the summer holidays they weren’t expecting a full house only about 20 (I’d love a Bible Study of about 20). Four tables were set up, some food was prepared (mainly asparagus, THE vegetable of Breaking Bread) and things began. It started with a simple service of singing and prayers and a very simple (but amazingly profound) Communion service in which we all stood and served each other the bread. It was a very moving experience and God was there, in the eyes of the homeless guy across the circle from me, in the smile of the person handing me the bread. It was another Holy experience in a borrowed church hall.

The wine was shared around our tables and the act of moving from one place to another between the elements was great. It made me feel like what we were doing was communal (all in the circle together) and yet also individual as we drank from our own cups in our places by the table. Again very simple ideas brilliantly done.

After the service (which was maybe 10 minutes) we went for the food like ravenous beasts, sharing talk and laughs at the various tables. This wasn’t rushed and there was a feeling of community there – hard to describe but there was a ‘freeness’ to the proceedings that can only come from everyone wanting the same outcome. I’m sure that doesn’t do it justice but it’s hard to describe.

After seconds Jenn (the Presbyterian (yay for John Calvin)) led us in a Bible study that I will not describe here as I intend to use the idea at our church (she’ll never know!!). Once again the way it was done was simple yet the content was very thought provoking and the discussions at our table was deep and serious.

It was a wonderful night (everyone helped with the clearing up as well) in which a stranger from a long way away was made to feel very much part of a worshipping community. He was offered food and spiritual comfort, companionship and conversation, teaching and love. It was all very New Testament, early church, true Christian Community in action stuff and I loved it. I’d go every week if I didn’t live 8,500 miles away.

 

Thank you to the Breaking Bread team, you are the real presence of God at work!!

 


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church is for EVERYONE (even little green kids)

Well I’m still in Texas (I’m not but the blog is, so stick with me, I’ve only got one more after this blog from here), and I’m feeling like a big kid.

Why????

I’m on my way to NASA!

Anyone born in the late sixties or early seventies will have a special place in their heart for NASA.

A year before my birth men walked on the moon for the first time; As I was being born Apollo 13 was in trouble; I watched the first shuttle launch in school; I saw the first shuttle disaster on tele; I wanted to be an astronaut!!!!

So here I am on the way to the Mission Control in Houston. I’m not going to go into detail here – this is not a tourist blog but the tour was great, a real high point of my trip. There were some amazing things to see – a real NASA skip (with NASA written on the side); Mission Control but the biggest thrill, however, was the Saturn 5 rocket!!!

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I made a model of one of these when I was a child, it had a little Neil Armstrong and everything. I knew the scale of a man to the machine but seeing it was MINDBLOWING!

Huge doesn’t do it justice – the jets of the rockets had a 40 ft diameter and there was 5 of them – this thing is unbelievably big; massively large; unfathomably vast. Even that doesn’t make it clear how big it is!

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I mention it because I have been in awe of the this machine for years and as amazing as it is it was nothing to how I felt that evening. My hosts (Megan and David) took me from NASA to a suburb of Houston to the Grace Lutheran Church where we met the pastor Lura Groen.

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Grace is a fantastic little place in a hip neighbourhood of Houston that does some utterly amazing stuff. The three things I want to mention are –

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  1. The Neighbourhood food bank that was going on when we arrived.

This is such a simple idea – local growers bring their produce to the church where a local co-op hires some space and sells good, local grown food for fair prices. Everyone wins – the church gets a working presence in the community, the community gets fresh local food and the growers get some money. WIN/WIN/WIN. Simple and brilliant.

2)   The work they do with Homeless teens.

Lura gave us the grand tour and one of the big things the church does, in conjunction with the other organisations, is to have a ministry to the local homeless youth, many of whom are gay. On Thursday evenings there is a drop in session held at the church with a safe place to talk (the church board has made the best room in the building available to the homeless – that speaks volumes, it says ‘you are valuable AND you are welcome’, words these kids may not here from anywhere else. There is a clothing bank and a food bank where good (hip) clothes and healthy food are available. They also supply things that we take for granted but to the homeless are luxuries – toilet paper, sanitary products, batteries etc. It is an amazing work that is not only needed but also really well done – Simple and Brilliant!

3)    Wednesday Night Worship

We arrived in time for the Wednesday Night Communion service. This is a small service held in a small side chapel. As with the House for All Sinners and Saints the liturgy was very traditional and yet was so fresh. It was a simple gathering where prayer, music and short sermon were shared and then we gathered around the table and shared the communion elements. It was made VERY clear that this was an open table and EVERYBODY is welcome. These weren’t just words spoken out of habit – this was a heartfelt invitation to all who wished to hear and come that this table was open to them!! It was formally informal or informally formal – in all the tradition and well known words there was an openness that was so wonderful to be a part of.

The service at Grace Lutheran struck me as living up to that verse that says we must accept the things of God as a child. It wasn’t childish but it was child-like – simple, profound and somehow very truthful. The service (indeed my whole experience was) simple and brilliant.

But what has that got to do with the SATURN 5 rocket – well this – as impressed and awe-struck as I was by the technology of the 1960’s that had 1,000,000 components and put men on the moon I was not as impressed or as awe-struck with that as I was with the wonderful work and the presence of God that I saw and felt at Grace. THAT was amazing in every sense of the word.

—————————————————————————————————-

They welcome they extend goes as far as green, alien children – honestly, it was in their stained glass windows – look-

 

IMG_0408

I couldn’t put this in anywhere but I must tell you y’all; I touched moon rock!!!!

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  • 0

church is for EVERYONE (even little green kids)

Well I’m still in Texas (I’m not but the blog is, so stick with me, I’ve only got one more after this blog from here), and I’m feeling like a big kid.

Why????

I’m on my way to NASA!

Anyone born in the late sixties or early seventies will have a special place in their heart for NASA.

A year before my birth men walked on the moon for the first time; As I was being born Apollo 13 was in trouble; I watched the first shuttle launch in school; I saw the first shuttle disaster on tele; I wanted to be an astronaut!!!!

So here I am on the way to the Mission Control in Houston. I’m not going to go into detail here – this is not a tourist blog but the tour was great, a real high point of my trip. There were some amazing things to see – a real NASA skip (with NASA written on the side); Mission Control but the biggest thrill, however, was the Saturn 5 rocket!!!

 

I made a model of one of these when I was a child, it had a little Neil Armstrong and everything. I knew the scale of a man to the machine but seeing it was MINDBLOWING!

Huge doesn’t do it justice – the jets of the rockets had a 40 ft diameter and there was 5 of them – this thing is unbelievably big; massively large; unfathomably vast. Even that doesn’t make it clear how big it is!

 

I mention it because I have been in awe of the this machine for years and as amazing as it is it was nothing to how I felt that evening. My hosts (Megan and David) took me from NASA to a suburb of Houston to the Grace Lutheran Church where we met the pastor Lura Groen.

 

Grace is a fantastic little place in a hip neighbourhood of Houston that does some utterly amazing stuff. The three things I want to mention are –

 

  1. The Neighbourhood food bank that was going on when we arrived.

This is such a simple idea – local growers bring their produce to the church where a local co-op hires some space and sells good, local grown food for fair prices. Everyone wins – the church gets a working presence in the community, the community gets fresh local food and the growers get some money. WIN/WIN/WIN. Simple and brilliant.

2)   The work they do with Homeless teens.

Lura gave us the grand tour and one of the big things the church does, in conjunction with the other organisations, is to have a ministry to the local homeless youth, many of whom are gay. On Thursday evenings there is a drop in session held at the church with a safe place to talk (the church board has made the best room in the building available to the homeless – that speaks volumes, it says ‘you are valuable AND you are welcome’, words these kids may not here from anywhere else. There is a clothing bank and a food bank where good (hip) clothes and healthy food are available. They also supply things that we take for granted but to the homeless are luxuries – toilet paper, sanitary products, batteries etc. It is an amazing work that is not only needed but also really well done – Simple and Brilliant!

3)    Wednesday Night Worship

We arrived in time for the Wednesday Night Communion service. This is a small service held in a small side chapel. As with the House for All Sinners and Saints the liturgy was very traditional and yet was so fresh. It was a simple gathering where prayer, music and short sermon were shared and then we gathered around the table and shared the communion elements. It was made VERY clear that this was an open table and EVERYBODY is welcome. These weren’t just words spoken out of habit – this was a heartfelt invitation to all who wished to hear and come that this table was open to them!! It was formally informal or informally formal – in all the tradition and well known words there was an openness that was so wonderful to be a part of.

The service at Grace Lutheran struck me as living up to that verse that says we must accept the things of God as a child. It wasn’t childish but it was child-like – simple, profound and somehow very truthful. The service (indeed my whole experience was) simple and brilliant.

But what has that got to do with the SATURN 5 rocket – well this – as impressed and awe-struck as I was by the technology of the 1960’s that had 1,000,000 components and put men on the moon I was not as impressed or as awe-struck with that as I was with the wonderful work and the presence of God that I saw and felt at Grace. THAT was amazing in every sense of the word.

—————————————————————————————————-

They welcome they extend goes as far as green, alien children – honestly, it was in their stained glass windows – look-

 

I couldn’t put this in anywhere but I must tell you y’all; I touched moon rock!!!!

 


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church IS people

You might have guessed by now that I really liked Denver. The city is meh but the people are WOW! To finish the Denver part of this blog and this trip I want you to meet 2 more folks. Vivian and Lotti.

 

This is Vivian.

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I went back to City Park on Sunday morning to help with the Homeless Communion again. I arrived quite early, about 11, and just watched as the under privileged of Denver gathered for both spiritual and physical food. It was a warm day so instead of sitting in the sun they just laid their bags in a queue and went to sit in the shade. As I stood under a tree and watched a young woman came over to me and asked, “Do you want me to pray for you?”

This shocked me, and I didn’t reply, she said again, “Hi, I’m Vivian from one of the local churches, I’m not Jehovah’s Witness or anything weird, I’m just a Christian – would you like me to pray for you?”

“Yes please” I stammered.

“What shall I pray for? Do you need a roof or some food?” I must admit this made me re-think my ward-robe, to her I looked homeless! I thought it was a Denver Hipster look but apparently it was Denver Dropout – oh well, it could be worse, I could have looked like a tourist.

“No thank you” I said, Im travelling through.

“OK” and uncorking a bottle of oil she anointed my head and prayed a simple prayer for a traveler.

She said “God bless you” and walked on. I watched, she went up to every homeless person there (about 90 of them by the end) and asked each one of them. She got about a 70% positive response but not once did she get any abuse or bad reaction.

With those who wanted she anointed them and prayed with them, chatted for a couple of minutes and walked on. She never asked for anything, she never seemed harsh or angry. Just a young woman doing what little she could to help spread the love of God.

It was oddly lovely to watch. She will never read this blog, I doubt I’ll ever see her again but I pray that God blesses her in all she does. If you have a faith, please include Vivian the prayer girl in your prayers too.

 

Meet Lotti – my new friend Lotti.

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After the Communion service in the park I need to head to the House for All Sinners and Saints. I put it into Google Maps (my new favourite app by a mile) and it told me to walk two blocks and catch a number 20 bus which was due in an hour.

Off I went and found the bus stop. Sitting on the bench was a guy so I sat down and said, “Hi.” People seem to do that here.

He looked straight at me – “Did you just say hi to a black fella?”

“Ummm, yes I did.”

“Well Lord bless me, today is a good day!” He said. “Not many folks would say hi to an old black fella like me, are you sure you want to?”

“Yes, I’m sure, Hi, I’m Siôn.”

“Well Sharn (that’s how they say it here), it sure is good to talk to you, I’m Lotti.”

We shook hands. Well, no thats not true, I extend my hand, and so did he and then we did some weird synchronised swimming kind of thing with our hands and fingers and thumbs.

“Did yer get that?’ He asked.

“Show me again” He did. And about 10 tries later he was satisfied that I could do it. “Well done boy. Dap me.”

I looked puzzled – “Put your fist out like this” – I did, so he punched me in the hand. “That’s dappin’. We do that when you get something right.”

I’m a total social native now.

Lotti and I sat and talked for the hour the bus took to come. He found out I was a minister – “You ain’t like no white preacher I ever seen – they don’t talk to the likes of me.”

“Thank you” I said and meant it.

He loved the fact I had come from Australia but, “There are better things to do in Denver than talk to Lotti.”

You know what? I don’t think there was. He was a Veteran of Vietnam, he used to drive trucks for a living. He laughed a deep booming laugh ever time he could, he shared wisdom and stories in equal measure. He talked of his family and obviously loved them to bits, and they him. He spoke of how he hadn’t been to church for 45 years because he’d been told God didn’t have time for him and that he wasn’t good enough for the Kingdom. I lost it at this (as those who know me you can imagine), “What rubbish! God’s got more time for you than some guy in a suit who would tell you that. Did you go to Sunday School?”

“Every week, in my best clothes” he said.

“Tell me the stories of Jesus that you remember,” I said. “Who did he spend the most time with?”

He thought about that for a minute, a far away look in his eyes.

“Well, let me see, I remember something about sinners and lepers and some little tax gatherer up a tree.”

“Do you remember the story about the good church people he sat with?”

“No, sir, I don’t recall that one.”

“Because it’s not really there – Jesus didn’t go to the folks who thought they were good enough, the suits and the preachers, he went to where people didn’t think they were good enough.”

“You serious?”

“Yes, Lotti I am, take this.” I gave him the little Bible I carry in my backpack for when my iPad runs out of battery. “Read the New Testament, that starts here. Tell me what you think.”

“I will” he said.

The bus arrived, we got on. He went and sat down. “Can I sit with you?” I asked.

“You wanna sit with me?”

“Of course I do”

“Really?”

We sat and continued to talk. This was his area, people he knew got on. He introduced me to them all. We talked and laughed, we ‘shook’ hands in that strange way he taught me. There were lots of daps and smiles.

About 20 minutes later Lotti looked up and said, ‘I missed my stop, it was five back that way.”

He stood and pulled the bell chord for the next stop.

“Thank you Siôn, it’s been a real blessing, and I ain’t used that word properly in 40 years.”

We ‘shook”, we dapped and then he dragged me from my seat and hugged me. With tears in both our eyes he got off.

He thinks he was blessed – ha – I was Godsmacked again by the God of mysteries and surprises….

 

End note – Since I wrote this on Monday I got a phone call from Lotti yesterday – he went to his his local church on Monday and spoke to the pastor who backed up what I said and Lotti is going on Sunday to church for the first time in 45 years. He promised to call me next week and tell me how it went. Please pray for Lotti too.

 

P.S. I just re-read this – Please don’t think this is story about my Great American Evangelistic Crusade and my amazing powers to save the lost and wandering or how holy and wonderful I am- it is not that at all, if you think that please read it again. It is a blog about how God reaches into everyday life and does HIS thing. All I said was “Hi”, I’m pretty sure my input stopped there – the rest was God, not me (except the hand shakes, that was totally me, and I can still do it!!).

*DAP*

Category : Godsmacked , News , SM , Social Media , The Trip , US


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Mar
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St David’s Day Gymanfa Ganu
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