Thought for the Day

25th May 2024

John 16:7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

Our understanding of our world depends very much on science and what we have learned over time. We have discovered that things we thought were true have a much bigger story to tell. When we understand things, we do so on a human level. We understand as our mind and experience allows us to. The Spirit of Truth enables understanding within us so we can comprehend and appreciate beyond this physical world. The Holy Spirit was there at creation and throughout the Old Testament but Pentecost brings it all together; The Spirit is now living not just around us but within us. The Spirit gives us the ability to recognise fully who Christ is. Not just human understanding but spiritual understanding.

24th May 2024

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

In our busy lives we often do not see what is right in front of us. The other morning I walked through an area I rarely go through. I was privileged to meet many hedge birds popping in and out, tweeting away. I met may dogs out for walk with owners, some enthusiastic, some lolloping along and some just plain inquisitive. Then there were the hurrying school students and younger ones with parents. All of this I rarely see. It struck me how much of life goes on and we just don’t know about it, or think about it. We are in our own little worlds. These are all part of God’s creation and it continues day after day whether we see it or not. We humans have caused much problem to our world by our carelessness and greed but yet it keeps going. God has provided such a richness for us but we just don’t see it or appreciate it until it is gone. We are stewards of this world and as such need to be more aware, more caring of that which God has given us.

23rd May 2024

John 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

We are told that we are made up of body and soul or spirit. When we die the inner self, who we are, leaves us while the physical body dies and decays. Jesus death on the cross is confirmed by the spear in the side which provides water (Plasma) and blood. Only in shock and then after death does this breakdown begin to happen round the heart and lungs. Jesus is then placed in a tomb, a new tomb, and the body left as Passover was happening and dealing with a dead body was considered unclean. His mother has watched Him slowly die in pain and agony. He had been humiliated. Yet Mary is right there, her care of Him even into His death is paramount. The cry of It is finished, is far from one of defeat, instead it is triumph, it is accomplished, what He came to do has happened. God and humans are reconciled. What seems like failure to the world is success for God and His people. 

22nd May 2024

John 19: 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha)

I have never been to the Holy Land, but I have seen pictures of the winding narrow streets called the Via Dolorosa, which translates into Sorrowful way. I am also a huge fan of the song of that name by Sandi Patti. Written about Jesus’ journey through those streets to His crucifixion. During this journey Jesus is initially carrying His cross until He can no longer bear the weight. He is jeered at, taunted, spat upon and falls many times, He has been beaten, whipped, and is very weak, but He keeps going. As an act of derision He is given a crown of thorns to wear upon His head. Once He arrives at Golgotha He is crucified, nailed to a cross, with two actual criminals whose crosses are either side of Him. One taunts Him, the other asks for forgiveness. In life there are two sides, those who taunt and deride faith and belief in God and those who ask for forgiveness. Which side are you on?

21st May 2024

Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

How are you with making and keeping promises? The return of Jesus to Heaven is about a very important promise. Jesus promises that we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes, so that we can be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. The power that Jesus is given in the Ascension is shared with us through the promised Holy Spirit. And that helps us to do what Jesus did while he was on earth. It helps us to continue His mission. If we don’t like what we see, we can do something about it; we are given the ability to make a difference. We are called to be his witnesses, we are called to do what he did: to heal the sick and feed the hungry and fight oppression and evil, and to work for justice and peace, to seek reconciliation, and teach others to do these things, too. In this coming week you will have opportunities to change things, to make life better for others, to make a difference by what you do and say. The promise of The Spirit in you and I mean we can make a difference. 

20th May 2024

John 15:26 When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.

As a child I was told about the Whitsun treat, the people of the church would have a special day out to celebrate Whitsun. A church picnic, or visit to a park or even the beach. We are now in Pentecost which is what used to be known as Whitsun or white Sunday, because many new Christians would be baptised on this Sunday wearing white as a symbol of purity as they were baptised into the church. The seventh Sunday after Easter is Pentecost. It celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised. The Spirit is described as Advocate, a Spirit of Truth who will come and challenge people about Sin, righteousness and judgement, who will guide us into truth, who will bring glory to Father, Son and Spirit.

19th May 2024

Acts 2: 4a All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.

We are used to not having promises fulfilled by governments and councils. The promises of more help, better facilities are all soon masked over by policy and money. Jesus made promises and these were fulfilled. He promised the Holy Spirit. Once ascended God the father and Son send the Spirit upon the people. Jesus presence is now not limited to one place, now the Spirit is world wide, God’s presence with and within everyone who wants it, who allow the Spirit to work. That Holy Spirit comes as friend, guide, helper, empowering and challenging us into action. Those prompts in our conscience are the Spirit, ring someone, go visit, send a card, pray. The Spirit also prays with us and for us and we can’t find the words the Spirit can and does. The Spirit gives us gifts as we need them. The Holy Spirit is for everyone! We must never forget He is there, never forget to ask for His help. He will not force himself on us we need to invite Him in. Come Holy Spirit!

18th May 2024

John 20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Within Judaism there is a very beautiful and caring way of preparing a body after someone has died. It is done for every Jewish person and is a last right of passage. For Jesus this too was to be the case, BUT because it was Passover, this last beautiful act was delayed. When Mary finally comes to the tomb instead of Jesus there are Angels. They ask about why she grieves. Her heart is broken, her Lords body is not there and so she cannot perform this last act of love. Through her tears and despair, she does not recognise Jesus. Why would she, she saw Him die. His voice, speaking her name changes everything. She would know that voice anywhere. She wants to hold on, not lose Him again, but now she has another job, not to prepare His body but to proclaim He is risen. Mary is the first evangelist, the one who goes and tells others He is alive. From that first Easter morning that is our job too. Tell the world that He is Risen, He has defeated death. We are to live our lives as those who know death no longer binds us. He has spoken our name, called us to live with Him. This is life in all its fulness!

17th May 2024

Matthew 7:12 In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the Prophets.

A few years ago, there was a movement called Random Acts of Kindness. People would do nice things for others. People were fed, given gifts and help, anything that showed kindness to others. I wonder if you know about other movements, kindness cards, take what you need bulletin board, kindness cups, kindness rocks and pebbles on beaches, kindness poems and even kindness bingo. These happen round the country in schools and universities in the hope of encouraging people to be kind to each other, not because they have to but because they want to. Those who experience acts of kindness are much more likely to go on and act kindly to others. As it is done to them so they do to others. Jesus called us to do to others as He did for us, loved us, cared for us, compassion and kindness to us, therefore we do those things to others.

16th May 2024

John 16:28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.

We are now in the short period between Ascension Day and Pentecost. 40 days after Easter Jesus is taken up to Heaven in front of the disciples. Before His death and Resurrection, He had prayed for them and us, for Gods protection as we live in this world and seek to serve Him. His ascension now places Jesus back in His rightful place with God. Far from taking Jesus away from us it is how Jesus goes from local to global. How Jesus can now be present with everyone. The disciples did not want Him to physically go but He needed to go so that the Holy Spirit could come and empower us.

15th May 2024

Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

When we care, when we have compassion, when we are kind it means we do not always put ourselves first. Instead, we see the plight of others, we recognise the unfairness and injustice and we want to do something about it. The Sussex centre for research has been researching kindness as it is linked to well being and relationships. They have already seen that giving to others activates the reward network in our brains. We feel better about ourselves and the world around us. God created us with this desire to help within our brains and hearts, a desire to look after others and improve people’s lives. It is all too easily drowned out by a selfish world that places others behind our own self-importance. Quite simply Christians are called to put others first and to do our best to make life better for all.

14th May 2024

Mark 16:19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.

Among the festivals in the church, we don’t really treat the ascension as that important and yet the Ascension of Jesus reminds us about Christ’s power. Rising from death to life and returning to His rightful place in the Godhead, means that Father, Son and Spirit are in control of our world, not any other rule or authority or power or dominion. Christ is more powerful because He has ascended and sits at the right hand of the very throne of God. Here He intercedes for us. He prays for us. Regardless of what is happening in our lives or in our world we know that our ascended Lord is in control and has not abandoned us. We are invited to trust Him, even when we don’t understand, even when we find it difficult to comprehend. We can talk to him, pray, intercede for others as He intercedes for us.

13th May 2024

John 15:12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

We may not think of service or self-sacrifice being about love, it depends on how we see love, but when you love it means you want the best for someone, you will do what you can to protect and help them. Stepping in when someone is at risk, people fighting off offenders in the streets like at London Bridge, helping people out of the collapsing buildings on 9/11, pulling people out of danger, police and firefighters do it on a daily basis. If we have a love for our fellow humans, for people in need, then we have a compassion, an empathy which prompts us into service of each other, into doing what it takes to help others. That going out of our way to help is self-sacrifice. All of us need to recognise the need to care for each other, to be willing to be sacrificial in our treatment of each other and to recognise that this comes from the love of humanity that each of us has been given and the example offered to us by God through Jesus.

12th May 2024

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

What do think of when someone talks about being kind? It is spoken about many times in the Bible and often comes within verses about love. Kindness and love are intertwined and often it is called loving kindness. To be kind you need love, love promotes and evokes kindness. Sadly, kindness is often seen as quite weak, we tell young ones to be nice or kind and we have forgotten the power that lies behind being kind. Without kindness the world is cold, selfish and right now we have such a selfish world. God has called us to kindness, to be people who care, who are empathetic and who make the world a better place for everyone. Don’t stop being kind.

11th May 2024

Isaiah 25:6 On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine, the best of meats and the finest of wines.

I used to climb and walk quite a lot in my younger years. Up Snowden, Old Man Coniston, Scafell Pike to name a few. I loved the climbs, rising above places, the incredible views. As I think about it God and Jesus were quite into mountains as well. In the Old Testament God does all his important work on the tops of mountains; Moses, 10 commandments, Elijah and the still small voice. Jesus preaches his Sermon on the Mount, He feeds 5000 on the mountain side. In Isaiah we are given this picture of a feast where we will experience the best food, the best wines and the best company. Where we are close to God, to Heaven on the mountain top of life with God through Jesus, living our best life on top of the world with God.

10th May 2024

Mark 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Someone I trained with had been in prison, he had changed his life, realised how wrong he had been, found faith in God. It did not entitle him to walk free until he had served his sentence. He accepted his punishment but once he left prison he took a different path. It wasn’t easy, people were suspicious, but he changed his life, he was sorry for what he done and worked hard to be a better person. He trained to be a vicar and is now a prison chaplain and works tirelessly with those in prison to try and help them change their lives. We need to try and find that compassion within us, to try and offer forgiveness where we can, to be willing to accept your own faults and apologise properly, letting it change us. Forgiveness can take a while, for some who have been terribly hurt it may never arrive fully, but all we are asked to do is try, to try in God’s strength to forgive. To try and be better people who respect others and accept our mistakes.

9th May 2024

Mark 16:19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.

Today is Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter it commemorates Jesus being taken up to Heaven after being with the Disciples and followers after His resurrection. It is one of the earliest Christian festivals along with Christmas and Easter and Pentecost. Jesus is taken up from their sight to His rightful place in Heaven, with God. His work of salvation completed, the defeat of death achieved and now He takes His divine place with God as part of the Godhead. We speak of it in our liturgy, in our Eucharistic prayers and creeds. It is an important part of our faith story and yet it will pass today, and many will not know about it. Some of us will celebrate this on Sunday in our services. The going up of Jesus into the clouds is what prompted the understanding that Heaven was up there, above the clouds. We now accept that Heaven is a spiritual place, all around us and within us. For us today we are reminded of what Jesus did on the cross and that we have a place in Heaven because of that. Have a blessed Ascension Day.

8th May 2024

Hebrews 13: 11 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices and love God is pleased.

Self-sacrifice isn’t always about physical harm, it can also be about emotional or spiritual harm. The toll that helping others can have on wellbeing and mental health. Caring for a relative or family member for example, did you know that about 1 in 5 young people are carers, 20% of young people have those responsibilities. Being the parent of a severely disabled child or adult. The worries and stresses of being a good friend, the person others find it easy to talk to, the person who is always there for people. We all make sacrifices regularly, but that self-sacrifice, that giving of ourself to serve others is an amazing part of the human spirit, a God given ability to do our best for others. This verse associates this self-sacrifice with love, we do things out of love for another. The greatest act of love is giving up one’s life for another. For nearly all of us that will never happen, but it is the basis around the Christian faith. The giving of a life to save others.

7th May 2024

John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

What is your favourite flavour of sweet? Which ones don’t you like or do you leave in the box? In the chocolate boxes we have at Christmas the Bounty is always left. When I used to have fruit gums, I always left the yellow ones. Let’s face it there are always things we leave out because they are not our favourite. When I was at school, we always had to pick sides, two popular sporty people always had the choice of who were on their teams. I was often left until last because I wasn’t considered good at sport. Sometimes we treat people like those last-to-be-chosen, sweets or team groups. Other times, we leave others out from gatherings, parties, or other activities. Maybe sometimes there are reasons, BUT whatever the reason or excuse we might give, it doesn’t feel good to be left out. We feel sad, we feel unloved, we feel inadequate and a failure. The good news is that we are never on our own at that sad time. We are never inadequate or a failure, Jesus is with us in every situation! Jesus doesn’t want anyone to be left out. His love has no conditions it just is. And Jesus wants us to love others like that, too. There should be no favourites, no one left behind or left out. There is a word in Hawaiian, Ohana, it means family, no one gets left behind. Not just blood family but friends, community. We look after each other, we love each other, no conditions attached. That is loving others as Jesus loves us.

6th May 2024

Psalm 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters.

Sheep are natural followers. They don’t like to be pushed; they prefer to be led. And it is their shepherd who leads them. We have all probably heard that sheep are not very smart animals, but that turns out not to be true. Sheep just want to be led. Sheep trust their shepherd, and go where the shepherd goes. And they let the shepherd go first, to make sure the way is safe, and then to invite them to follow him. And isn’t that what Jesus is asking of us? To be his followers? He’s not going to push us. He’s not going to force us. Instead, Jesus just keeps calling us and inviting us over and over to follow him. He promises to lead us, to protect us, and even to lay down his life for us. And he invites us to trust him. Trust him and follow him.

5th May 2024

Exodus 34:6 “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Being able to forgive is about compassion. Recognising that another made a mistake, did not really intend to hurt, that someone was lashing out from a place of hurt. It is this compassion that allows God to forgive when we so constantly treat each other and Him with contempt, when we behave badly, when we are selfish and aggressive. We are free people, we have individual liberty, we are free to choose what we do and say, but we also have individual responsibility and accountability. We are constrained by laws and by respect and compassion for one other. I can only be free to express my opinions and ideas if you are free to express yours. True freedom allows all sides of an argument to be aired fairly. I cannot expect to be listened to if I do not listen to others. God’s compassion and forgiveness does not allow people to go unpunished. If we break the rules, disrespect others, misinform, lie, cheat, defraud, then we have to pay the price. We can be forgiven if we are sorry, but we still have to accept our punishment, accept the consequences of our actions, make recompense for what we have caused.

4th May 2024

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

I wonder how you see service, the Service of All. We are all called as Human beings to look after each other, to serve each other. Sometimes that can include self-sacrifice. A real altruism, self-denial, putting others first at risk to oneself. Where this is prevalent is in the armed forces, those who train to fight, hoping that they will not be called to, but being ready when they are. Those who go to other countries to defend peace, support local troops in battles and provide training. The sacrifice of so many ordinary people in our 2 world wars, most of them would not have joined the forces but they were called to by the country. You may in your family have medals, certificates, information about family members who gave their lives. These people gave a sacrifice, their life for the freedom of others. Most of us will never be called on to do this and yet people every day make sacrifices, stepping into dangerous situations at risk of personal harm to help others. They do this because God calls us as humans to be the servant of the other. To care for each other. We are called to serve one another in order to make this world as God designed it to be.

3rd May 2024

John 14: 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Sometimes we feel alone, there isn’t anyone to help or encourage, no one to just give us a hug. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, the Spirit there at creation, actively working throughout the Old Testament and now available to all God’s people. This Spirit is called the Advocate, but also a teacher, encourager, enabler, strengthener, who offers support and blessing. This Spirit who enables us to pray when we don’t feel like it, when we don’t understand. This Spirit gives us strength when all seems lost. He is with us and provides us with the peace Jesus spoke of. We are never alone! God is with us every moment of every day through His Spirit, in us, around us, with us, moment by moment. Sometimes we need to slow down, breathe, give the Spirit space to work, to be in us. It is easy to crowd Him out through business, worry, intent but He is right there, we just need to let Him work. We just need to tap into Him, to allow Him to bless us and in doing so find that promised peace.

2nd May 2024

1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

When I was young, I played side drum in the Girls Brigade Band and in the school Orchestra I played the drums and percussion. Often in Orchestra pieces the percussion part, cymbals, timpani drums, gong etc have a lot of bars rest between playing. It is all to easy to come in at the wrong time and there were times I did just that. The clash of cymbals even a beat out just doesn’t work and can ruin a whole piece. Paul reminds us that life without love is just like this, a mistimed noisy gong or clanging cymbal. All it does is spoil and take away from what is important, love. We are very good at being loud, of proclaiming what is right and how things should be done, unfortunately that comes across as just noise, ineffective and offensive to the ear drums. Paul encourages us to be people who love, who are patient, kind, compassionate, who don’t boast or get angry, who don’t shout about another’s faults, but forgive and bear with each other. 

1st May 2024

John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

It turns out that sheep are very good at hearing, and especially at hearing the voice of their shepherd. Shepherds would get all together with lots of sheep, at the watering hole. It was noisy and chaotic, but at the end of the day, the shepherds would call for their sheep. And the sheep would follow their own shepherds to a safe place to sleep. In the midst of all that chaos, and all those competing voices, the sheep would hear their shepherd’s voice and follow their shepherd. And that is, of course, what we are supposed to do, too: Listen to our shepherd, and follow him. There are plenty of competing voices these days, all clamouring for our attention. Voices from our TVs, and computers, our phones and tablets, social media, newspapers, politicians…….. But there is only one voice that truly matters to our soul. And that is the voice of the shepherd, the voice of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Sheep are good at listening to the voice of their shepherd, and we need to be good listeners to our Shepherd too.  

30thApril 2024

Exodus 34:7 The Lord is maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.

Let’s face it, we all want to be forgiven when we get things wrong but we are much less willing to forgive others. We want people to suffer a bit, to be uncomfortable, we want people to be punished. Those are normal and respectable ideas. We need a system where law breaking is punished, that is right and just. This system does not cover the lying, the loss of trust, the dropping someone in it, the gossiping, the trolling, the insults, the betrayals. These are daily occurrences, and it is really difficult to find it within ourselves to forgive. A key to forgiveness is being sorry, recognising our faults, apologising and being different. We are not good at wanting to apologise, we often couch apologies with if, I’m sorry if you…. trying to make the reason for someone’s upset being down to them. That is not an apology, that is not being sorry. God is able to forgive and so must we. We must also be truly sorry when we hurt others. It is not easy but in God’s love and strength it is possible.

29th April 2024

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

However good we are at something, however good our life might appear to be, we will all have bad days, sometimes even bad weeks and months. We will all struggle sometimes, things might appear to go wrong but we are unique, we are valued and special to God and we are the only ones who can do certain things He has set out for us. Paul reminds us that God will carry on with us, not give up on us, but complete our lives in Him. So, each and every day we need to hang on in there, to keep going, to gain strength and support from one another, family, friends and God as we keep our eyes on the amazing, wonderful, finished product God created us with the potential to be. 

28th April 2024

Mark 8:35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

As humans we are not too keen on talking about death, actually it is good for us to discuss it and even make plans. What I have discovered is that dying is about more than our physical death. We actually die a thousand deaths throughout our lifetime. The loss of a loved one, a relationship, health, opportunities, a dream; all deaths we didn’t want or ask for. In order to live well sometimes there are things we need to let go of, things we cling to that keep us from God; things like fear, anger or resentment, regret and disappointment, guilt, the need to be right, approval. The secret of a good life is the letting go, the emptying, the leaving behind, and the dying that makes space for new life to arise. So, what is the grain of wheat in our life today that needs to fall into the earth and die in order to bring new life.

27th April 2024

Mark 14:29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

Have you ever made promises you can’t keep? Said something you later regret? We all do it. In the heat of the moment we volunteer, speak up, make a promise and then when it becomes reality, it’s hard, it may affect our standing in life, we deny it, try to get out of it… I didn’t really mean……., what I was actually saying was…… excuses, excuses. Our world is full of broken promises, our politicians are the worst, making promises they never fulfil. Peter does this with Jesus, promises even to die for Him and it goes spectacularly wrong. Peter denies knowing Jesus three times, getting more and more angry. He’s frightened, he fails BUT, the great news is that Jesus doesn’t hold it against him. Jesus seeks him out, makes sure Peter knows he is forgiven. It teaches Peter a lot about faith and following Jesus so much that he grows and becomes the first leader of the early church. Jesus understands, He forgives, He loves, and we need to accept that, learn from our mistakes and become better, stronger people in Christ.

26th April 2024

Hebrews 10:25 Do not give up the habit of meeting together as some are doing, but encourage one another.

Sheep are what are known as “flock animals.” They like to be together. They don’t do so well on their own. There is safety and strength in numbers, and sheep seem to know this. So, they tend to spend a lot of time together, and they find a lot of benefit from being together. We, as humans, are “flock animals” too. We like to be together. We like to gather in groups. There is this innate drive to surround ourselves with like-minded people. We are a community that recognises that there are important reasons to be together. Christians need to spend time together. We are not intended to be on our own. That’s why Jesus created the church. That is one of its primary purposes: So that we can come together, support each other, pray together and be kept safe. We are Jesus to each other. Coming together is vital and something we must not stop doing. This group support helps us to get through the difficult times and rejoice together in the good times.

25th April 2024

Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Think about how you feel when you have completed something, an essay, research, a piece of artwork, books, cooking a meal, running a marathon, the next level on a game, a rugby or football match, the next grade in music. When these are completed, we have a sense of accomplishment. We have worked hard, given of ourselves, learned, grown and done our best. We have achieved and finished to that point. God is into creativity and uniqueness. Think about it: every snowflake is different, no two people have the same fingerprints, and each of us has a unique DNA. He created only one “you,” and there will never be anyone else who can do exactly what God prepared for you to do. You and I are unique. On earth, value is often determined by how readily available or how scarce something is. Gold and diamonds are valuable because they are rare. Likewise, since there is no one identical to you, you are rare, unique and irreplaceable. You are of great value! As people of such great value there is investment in making us the best we can be, in achieving the best finished product we can be. But that means practicing, going through stages, working hard, growing, changing. A willingness on our part to keep our eyes on the prize, to keep working at it day after day.

24th April 2024

1 John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

At times in life we have, as a family, had to access benefits to help us live. When the boys were small holidays were not possible but for family who would put us up and feed us so we could go the beach with the boys. Training for ministry left us with one low income, huge childcare costs and rent and bills to pay. The church has never been that good at looking after those who serve it and I can recall many families who never got through training as they just could not afford to live. Picking on those who need benefits to try and appease right wing fascists is the lowest and most abhorrent move from any government. To tell people who are severely disabled they must work and then to be party to the death of so many by these cruel policies show just how far selfish, wealthy people are willing to go to remain in power and keep their wealth. The Bible is quite clear that our humanity, our goodness is shown by how we treat the least in society. Those who treat them with contempt do not have any real humanity and therefore cannot ever judge how people need to live. If there is no compassion, no humanity there should be no political job! 

23rd April 2024

Matthew 25:21 He replied ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share my happiness!’

As I get older, I think a lot about my younger years and whether I made the most of my young life. I wanted so much to set the world alight, to become famous, to have a good life. I wanted to be published, to record an album, to write the song that would win the Eurovision Song Contest. Well, I guess I got half way there. I did record an album; I didn’t write the song contest winner but I have a few little things published. We will never know how what we have said or done has impacted the world, our family and friends, we will never know how much lives have been changed for the better because of us. Perhaps we might see when we arrive in Heaven, I don’t know. But I do know that God sees, He sees everything we do and say, everything and how it affects others. I know I haven’t always got it right but I hope I will one day hear those words “well done you good and faithful servant” I won’t deserve them but God’s grace is all we need and I pray you will hear them too.

22nd April 2024

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

I wonder if you have ever considered that you are wonderfully made, and that each of us has a potential to fulfil. What we are striving for in our lives is the finished product. One definition of the word “potential” says it is “what you can do but have not yet accomplished.” If we are not careful, we can think that means “reaching our potential is based solely on our own efforts.” This is not true. It is about letting who we are in God be realised. Allowing ourselves to grow and become who we can be in God’s strength with the help of each other. Potential is how far we can go, not alone, but with God and each other working together. When we develop and use what God has given us, we are developing the potential He created in us and heading towards being the finished and completed best version of ourselves. That is never version 1.0 because we grow and change as our potential is realised.

21st April 2024

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

This particular Sunday is known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” We all know that we need someone to lead us, and to protect us, and to guide us. We are a lot like sheep. And sheep need shepherds. The world, then and now needs someone to lead us. I suspect that is why superhero movies are still popular, and probably always will be. Because our world needs heroes. Our world needs leaders. Our world needs good and faithful shepherds, to take care of us, and to lead us. Jesus is our shepherd, the Good Shepherd, good, loving, faithful. He is the leader that our world needs right now. And we are his sheep. Flocking together, meeting together, sharing together, following Jesus and listening to is voice. May we never give up the habit of meeting together or reminding the world that Jesus is the leader they need to make everything as it should be.

20th April 2024

Ezekiel 18:23 Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “No! rather that they should turn from their ways and live?

I am watching Raiders of the Lost Ark and am reminded of first going to see it with our church youth group. At the part where the Angel of Death comes out and all the Nazi’s are killed, I remember some of the youth group shouting, Go on God, you get them. Of course, we all cheered, we all cheer now when the badies get their comeuppance and yet I feel uneasy. None of us deserve God’s love and I struggle with any God being violent and brutal towards some and not others, particularly when we know that it is always the victors who write history and we do not always know all the facts. I also believe in a God who loves the undeserving and offers grace to all. Do not get me wrong, there are many evil people who have done awful things but there are also many innocents who got caught up in these things and did not deserve what happened to them. Thankfully God is the one who judges fairly, rightly and honestly and will make sure justice is done as and when it should be. His desire is that all should turn from their wicked ways and live.

19th April 2024

John 20:25b Thomas said, "Unless I see the wound in His side and put my finger in the holes where the nails were in His hands, I will not believe it!"

There is a term often used on social media, FOMO, which means fear of missing out. People worry about missing out on things others are doing. Just after Jesus resurrection the disciple Thomas was not with the others when Jesus appeared to them. When they told Thomas, he didn’t believe them. This was his FOMO moment. He had seen Jesus crucified and buried. How could He be alive? He wanted proof, he had missed out and was feeling aggrieved. We do that sometimes, don’t we, unless you do this for me, God, I won’t believe. We want some proof. A week later, the disciples were in the locked room again, and this time, Thomas was with them. Again, Jesus came among the disciples. Jesus said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas fell on his knees and answered Jesus, "My Lord and my God!" We all have our FOMO moments and we all have our moments of disbelief. It is okay to question and okay to not know it all or experience it all. God will enable us to see, experience and grow in faith. We need not fear, God will always be with us even if we think we might be missing out.   

18th April 2024

Romans 8:15 The Spirit we received does not make us slaves again to fear; it makes us adopted children of God. With that Spirit we cry out, “Father.”

Most of us do not know what being adopted really means. A member of our family was adopted and has never felt anything other than part of the family and never treated any different to anyone else. Adoption is at the heart of the gospel, we are chosen in love and adopted into God’s family where we are all treated as equal and full children of God, our father; brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Spirit works in us so that we are no longer slaves to sin and death but are adopted into God’s family as full heirs to His promises as His children. God’s love of us is totally undeserved, we are adopted because of God’s grace, we are treated as family, loved and given everything not because we deserve it but because God chose to adopt us and give us everything. It is because of this that we can call Him Father.

17th April 2024

Proverbs 16:11 The Lord demands fairness in every business deal. He established this principle.

The reputation for fairness counts for a lot. Being honest, being fair is what we want for ourselves, our families and our leaders. Through history some leaders have even had “the fair” added to their name because of their reputation; Edith the fair, King Frederick the fair. What an accolade, to be known as fair. All of us must be fair in your dealings with each other. To get into the habit now of always treating people fairly no matter their background, status, gender, religion and even if we disagree with them. God calls us to be fair, to be honest, to live with integrity and if we start now, we will be fair in all our dealings throughout life, and you never know, we may also be given the title “the fair”.

16th April 2024

John 20:29 Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Sometimes we must see something before we believe it, we use that phrase, Seeing is believing. It was like that for some people in the Bible, too. On the evening of the first Sunday after Jesus had been crucified, His disciples were together in a locked room. They were afraid of those who had crucified Jesus. Suddenly, Jesus appeared there in the locked room with the disciples. It was hard to believe, but they saw Him, and Jesus showed them His wounds in His hands and His side, so they knew it was Him. You and I have never seen Jesus with our own eyes. The question is, will we be one of those who is blessed because we believe, even though we have not seen? We see evidence of God at work everywhere, in our lives, in the lives of people around us, in creation. There are daily miracles we so easily see as normal; we don’t give God credit. We are called to faith, believing because we encounter God through the Bible, prayer and personal experience. We believe because we have seen how much God has done for our world.

15th April 2024

Ruth 1:16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

For many the reality of life these days is that of being a carer. Many of us care for our elderly parents, many for those undergoing cancer treatments, many for disabled children or partners, many for the terminally ill. We care because we love but that love is often taken for granted by a society that constantly wants to cut benefits to save money. If the government had to pay for the care provided free by so many they would have to cut their money-making schemes to pay for it. They even allow children to care for disabled parents. What a terrible indictment on those with money who rule our country. In the Bible we meet many who care for family and friends. An amazing example is Ruth who gives up her culture, her security and home to care for her mother-in-law, Naomi. She in turn is cared for by the landowner who seeing her example makes sure she is protected and gleans enough food. God uses people to care for His children, He provides the necessary and does not take advantage to feather His own nest. We are called to care for one another, and we are blessed as God cares for us.

14th April 2024

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

We are called to be imitators of Jesus, to be like Him. It is only when we begin to imitate our Saviour, when we begin to take the Risen Lord seriously and into our hearts, that we begin to realise that Jesus is a king who serves. He is our example; we are to love and serve just as He did and does. In order to embrace and serve others, we must see them the way Jesus sees them. Rooted deep inside us and half hidden from everyone are the real people that we are. The people of courage, the people of caring, the people who are willing to sacrifice for our families, for our friends, and as Jesus commands, for everyone. So, the next time we see somebody who drives us crazy, and we find it almost impossible to be around them, remember we have to see them as Jesus sees them. Every one worth dying for. Everyone valuable, created and loved completely and utterly by God. And in seeing as Jesus sees, we will learn to love as He loves. And when we learn to love as He loves, the world will be changed.

13th April 2024

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

When we use the word church we have the image of stone buildings in our minds. In the Bible the word church is the Greek translation of ekklesia which means assembly and describes the gathering of Jesus followers together in one place. These gatherings are spoken of as chosen people, a royal priesthood all belonging to God. This was how the chosen of God and the covenant had been spoken of in the Old Testament. Church is not the place we go to worship but the believers coming together, how we care for each other, interact with each other. Those who belong to the family of God are church wherever we are, wherever we meet. We are to offer hospitality to one another, serve each other and love each other deeply. We may meet in a building but we, the people, are the church belonging to God.

12th April 2024

Hebrews 10:25a Let us not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.

We regularly hear that Scandinavia, particularly Denmark, is one of the happiest places to live. Yet they have long dark winters, far worse than ours. They cope with these long darker times by gathering together with friends and family to share food and drink together. The word they use for this type of meeting together is hugge (pronounced hoogah) This gathering together helps them to offset the impact of less sunlight. Coming together around a table with loved ones blesses their hearts. The writer of Hebrews encourages the gathering together as a community. He speaks of difficult days, of challenges which will require God’s people to persevere in faith. That perseverance will be helped and encouraged by us coming together and encouraging each other. Gathering with friends and family blesses us, strengthens us, as we bear up one another in faith. We must never stop meeting together.

11th April 2024

Luke 11:17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.”

We are currently witnessing a huge division of MPs on what constitutes racism and misogyny. Right wing factions have become very populist and powerful. What it is doing is turning a house in on itself. Division, created by leaders is for one reason, to divide and conquer. Satan has been sowing division since the Garden of Eden. Humans have been sowing division since then too. Dictators obtain power and rule by fear and division. Enough angry people on a minor topic, constant threats, fear, create an emergency so laws can be broken to fix and protect. Division comes from lies, throw away statements repeated, reported and so believed. Jesus stood against division. He healed, protected, helped and cared for and was condemned for doing so. You just can’t have someone who works for real justice being popular so let’s discredit, let’s divide. Jesus tells us we are blessed when we hear the word of God and keep it, practice it, and live it! Are we stokers of division or those who hear the word of God and keep it?

10th April 2024

Luke 24:48 From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected.

How do we cope when we feel betrayed and maltreated? I know I struggle with those who would purposely hurt another by their disregard of truth and honesty, for their own selfish gain. This behaviour towards us makes us untrusting, unwilling to be vulnerable, unwilling to ask for help in case we are manipulated and once again hurt for being honest. God wants us to be people who can be trusted, who are honest, who will always look for the best in people and give them the benefit of the doubt. When we are given responsibility, more seniority, then we must work even harder to be honest and to look after others, to build trust and allow people to be themselves. Jesus example is one of complete honesty, of being selfless, a servant who did not use others to gain for himself. We have to try, through God’s grace, to forgive, but we also should not be maltreated by the very people who would profess themselves to be God’s chosen ones. To whom much is given, much is expected.

9th April 2024

John 8:51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.

For thousands of years people made sacrifices to please God to try and obtain favour for a better life. These sacrifices were never good enough. Jesus comes as the perfect, full sacrifice. He came speaking truth. Today we talk about my truth, your truth, we have forgotten that God is the only truth. Jesus is the I Am, He was there at the very beginning with God and the Spirit at creation. Humans are very good at talking the talk but not walking the walk. We say we believe in God but our actions and behaviour do not reflect this. Jesus speaks of Eternal Life, others speak only of death. They speak of God but do not actually know Him. The hardest thing at a funeral is reading the words about those who believe in God not dying, because they have. Physical death is still a certainty, it is spiritual death which is now overcome and defeated. The Spirit within us, who we really are, lives on. The truth of Easter is that physical death is happening but through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus we can and will live on forever with God.

8th April 2024

1 Kings 12:31 Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, as he decided, even though they were not Levites.

It has been said that we, as humans, have tried to make God in our image. Rather than listen to God about what is best for us, we try to make Him do what we want. God and Jesus do not mold to our ideas. Think how often we tell God how to do things, if you just do this God then this will happen and I will get what I want and then I will do things for you. Jesus does not bow to our pressure. He knows what needs to be done and when. Jesus was offered shortcuts to the throne, Satan in the wilderness, the people wanting to make Him King when he fed them, Pilate offered Jesus a way out, He was taunted on the cross to save himself. He does not take them, He does not opt out, or look for the easy route. There is only one way to go, to His death on the cross. That obedience to God is what gives us eternal life.

7th April 2024

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

We sometimes forget that the Bible contains stories about all the things we experience in life. Think about the Bible stories of loss and renewal. Abram left his country and kindred so that he might be made a great nation, renamed Abraham, and be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Jacob lost his old identity and was wounded so that he could become a new man, Israel, with a new life. James and John left their father, boats, and nets to become disciples of Jesus and fishers of people. Jesus taught his disciples that He too would have to die and then rise again to defeat death for us to have life. The Bible shows us a pattern of loss and renewal, dying and rising, letting go and getting back, leaving and return. This pattern is at the core of our baptism and it’s what we declare every Sunday in the Eucharist when we say Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. So, the question for us is what in our lives do we need to let go of? What might we need to leave behind? What needs to die so that something new can arise?

6th April 2024

John 13:34 Love one another as I have loved You.

It took the disciples and Jesus family a long time before they began to put together the puzzle of the resurrection. They knew that he had risen, but had he risen for them? We know Jesus is risen, but is He risen for us? Jesus comes and he dies that we might live. Jesus came to live as we live, to take on the burdens and the joys of our life. He went about doing good for others. He came as a servant, and finally, he had given his own life. Finally, He had defeated death and restored us to life once more. The world that Jesus saw, and taught his disciples and us to see, was where the real life is. Real life is not in the exteriors, the trappings or the ordinariness of every day. Real life is deep down in our hearts and souls where we are the image of God, the heirs of heaven. We are people to be taken seriously and we are people who take each other seriously. For it is in the service of others for God that we find real life.

5th April 2024

Luke 24:16 Jesus himself drew near, but they did not recognise him.

On Easter Sunday we shout with Joy that Christ is risen. A very simple, but powerful phrase that has changed the whole world. But you would never know this if you looked at the Gospel stories immediately after Jesus had risen, because the people who loved Jesus are running back and forth in great confusion. The women came to the grave and they saw that the tomb was already open, the stone rolled back, they looked inside, and they couldn’t see a body. Mary Magdalene ran back to Peter and told him they have taken away the Lord. Peter and John ran to the tomb, and they saw the burial cloths, but nothing else. They all wondered what had happened. They did not know what the Resurrection meant, even though Jesus had said three times that he would rise from the dead. When they do find Him, Jesus will not be the same because He has passed through another door, the door to a different and greater reality. He has passed through and defeated Death.

4th April 2024

James 5:7 Be patient, friends, until the coming of the Lord.

As Jesus died upon the cross He knew God would not leave him alone in the grave. You and I need to know, God will not leave us alone with our struggles. His seeming silence is not His absence, His seeming inactivity is not apathy. Quiet non eventful days have their purpose. They let us feel the full force of God’s strength. Had God raised Jesus fifteen minutes after the death of His son, would we have appreciated the act? Would we even have recognised it? Were He to solve our problems the second they appear; would we appreciate His strength? Would we even notice? Most likely we would give ourselves the credit. For His right and just reasons, God inserts a Saturday or quiet day between our Fridays and Sundays. If today is a silent day for you, be patient. Hang on in there. Be patient because God is working.

3rd April 2024

Acts 2:27 You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

Easter weekend events tend to skip Saturday. Friday and Sunday get the press. The crucifixion and resurrection command our thoughts. But don’t forget the Saturday. Just because there is silence on Saturday does not mean nothing is happening, it is! In the midst of the silence God is working. We often experience these Silent Saturdays. The day between the struggle and the solution; the question and the answer; the offered prayer and the answer. Saturday’s silence torments us. Is God angry? Did I disappoint him? God knows Jesus is in the tomb, why doesn’t He do something? Or, in our case God knows our career is in trouble, our finances are in difficulty, our relationships are in a mess, we are still waiting for that hospital appointment and treatment. Why doesn’t He act? What are we supposed to do until He does? We do what Jesus did. Lie still. Stay silent. Trust God. Jesus knew God had not abandoned Him and He knew that His resurrection would bring life to the world.

2nd April 2024

Matthew 20:34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.

As we have journeyed through Holy week and Easter, I have been struck by the images that speak of the abundance of Christ’s love, so many of them relating to his hands. The hands of Jesus that touched and healed so many people, The hands of Jesus as he washed his disciples’ feet, the hands of Jesus as he blessed the bread and wine, the hands of Jesus as the soldiers drove nails through them, the hands of hope which he showed in the upper room as he said ‘peace be with you.’ Throughout His ministry, Jesus’ hands blessed so many through practical acts of care and compassion. His hands expressed the outpouring of love He had for those He met. The power of touch can be the silent language which says everything, it travels deeper within people than words. A language heard, and felt, today by many through the love and compassion shown by carers, friends and family. 

1st April 2024. Easter Monday.

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

We all struggle with some people, finding them hard to get on with and perhaps very hard to love. Jesus chooses to love everyone. That is the choice before us. We cannot choose to love only those whom we like, whom we deem deserving, for whom we have good feelings, those who look, think, or act like us. It is all or nothing with Jesus. If we do not love all, then we love none. Love, for Jesus, is not about feelings and emotions but about a choice. In Jesus’ teaching if you have feet or hands you get washed, regardless of where those feet and hands have been or where they are going. That is the example and commandment he sets before his disciples and us. The first person the disciples will have to choose to love or not love is Judas, the one who for a time turns away, the one who walks in the night, the one who betrays. That, also, is our first choice. Every one of us has at least one Judas in our life. Every one of us has been Judas to someone else. Sometimes we have been Judas to ourselves. Jesus choses to love everyone, that is the choice before us every day.

31st March 2024. Easter Sunday.

John 20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Passover delayed the last beautiful act that Mary could do for Jesus. A ceremony of preparing the body for proper burial. As she arrives early in the morning the stone is rolled away, and His body is not there, only angels who ask why she is crying. For Mary this stings, failure to even do the last special thing she could do for her Lord. She is grief stricken and through her tears she does not recognise Jesus. Why would she? She had watched Him die; she saw it for herself. She asks where the body might be, still determined to do what she could for her Lord. It is Jesus speaking her name that brings her to her senses. Speaking her name, Mary, changes everything. When God calls us, speaks our name, it changes everything. From here on in Mary has a new Job, to proclaim He is Risen. To become the first evangelist proclaiming the risen Christ. From Easter morning her new job becomes our new job, to tell the world Jesus is risen. To live our lives as those who know Jesus has defeated death and we are no longer bound by it. This life in all its fulness given freely to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

30th March 2024. Holy Saturday.

John 19:34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

By this time Jesus had hung on the cross for 3 hours. He had suffered humiliation and mocking. His mother and friends were there too, seeing all this and grieving. Even in His pain He cares for His mother, He puts family at the fore. His final cry is one of accomplishment. It is Finished. God and humans are now reconciled. In the worlds view it looks like failure, in God’s view it is a resounding success. Death will be defeated, and Humans are bound for heaven. At His final breath He gives up His spirit. We are all both Physical and Spiritual beings, we have a soul or spirit which lives on. Which is never lost but carried on through loved ones and the mark we have made upon this world. Jesus is dead, his bones are not broken like the others, there is no need. Just to be sure the spear plunges into His side, to the heart where the struggle to breathe, the overworking of the heart and thus shock has caused fluid to gather. This means death, the fluid and blood are proof. From here His body is hurriedly taken down and placed in a new tomb before the Passover and Holy Sabbath begins and no work can be done. A stone is rolled over the entrance. To everyone who witnessed this, Jesus is dead and gone.

29th March 2024. Good Friday.

John 19:17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha)

Jesus carries his cross up the winding streets of the Via Dolorosa, People are jeering and taunting, he is already weak he has been beaten and he falls several times. In the end Simon of Cyrene is forced to carry it for Him. In churches you will often find the Stations of the Cross around the walls, they picture the journey Jesus is making, the falling, the abuse and the people he meets who love Him. At the place of the skull He is crucified, nailed to a cross with two others who actually were criminals. Pilate’s final act of annoyance at those who have forced his hand to punish Jesus, is to put a sign in all common languages that this is the King of the Jews. The leaders and chief priests hate this, they try to remove it, but it remains. One of the criminals, taunts Jesus, accuses Him, while the other humbly asks for forgiveness. Even here, on the cruel cross, Jesus offers forgiveness and hope. He never stops caring for people. Here we have the two sides in life represented, those who taunt and accuse Jesus, and those who look for forgiveness. Which side are we on?

28th March 2024

Proverbs 29:4 By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down.

What do you think of when you think of Kings? The old-fashioned crown wearing, sword wielding King or the wealthy monarchs of today? The Jewish People are looking for a warrior King, on horseback, with majesty and power. Horses were war beasts; not donkeys, the king led the charge into battle. A conquering King is wanted, independence from occupation is wanted. But Jesus was all about peace, the Angels declared this at His birth. Prince of Peace. Jesus was not the King they wanted; the peer pressure was there to be a warrior. There was a public expectation but mob rule does not decide what is right or wrong. Jesus does not mould to their ideas, that’s why in just a few days they were calling for His death. If you don’t give us what we want then we don’t want you. Is that how we see Jesus?

27th March 2024

Mark 11:4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it.

The disciples are sent to get a colt, a young male donkey that has never been ridden, this is a link to sacrifice, only that which has never been used can be sacrificed. Jesus rides on this sacrificial donkey as a sacrifice and the prophecy from Zechariah 9v9 is fulfilled, your King comes to you humble and riding a donkey, a colt. Donkey’s work the land, and this could only happen in times of peace and security. Good crops showed God’s favour. Riding a donkey was a symbol of peace, security, of God’s favour on His people. Here is your saviour…… the people see a saviour from Roman occupation. This King is peaceful, caring, humble. The authorities see a threat and want the people and Jesus silenced. He comes on a donkey, no chariot, no pure-bred horse. The Messiah they were waiting for was closely associated with Kingship, but Kingship as God destined it, not as they or we want it. Real Kings are servants of their people. Real Kings do whatever is needed to save their people. Jesus is our real King.

26th March 2024

Mark 11:8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.

Palm Sunday is about Kingship, a kingship of humility and not to be seized. This king will empty Himself, become a servant, a slave and will be obedient to death, to save them and us from death. As He arrives in Jerusalem the people see Jesus the King who will free them from the Romans, Jesus the King who will feed them, provide for them, heal them. The people are looking for a warrior King, on a horse, leading his people into battle. What they get is a King riding on a donkey, humble and obedient. Jesus is King, this is like a coronation, riding in to his people’s adulation. They want a hero king, who comes is a sacrificial king. What type of King are we looking for? One who gives us everything we want here and now? Or a King who saves his people, loves them, fights for justice and peace? What King do we want today?

25th March 2024

Titus 1:8 They must be hospitable, those who loves what is good, who are self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.

The word hospitality comes from being a good host to someone as your guest, caring for them, treating them well. From it comes our word hospital and host. In the Bible hospitality is Philoxenia, including Philo which is brotherly/sisterly love, and xenia which means stranger or foreigner. Being hospitable means caring for, showing love to the stranger, the foreigner. As Christians we should be practicing hospitality to those around us, and those from further afield. Much is currently made of migrants and our treatment of them is, as a country, utterly shameful. We are treating strangers as less than human, restricting their rights and freedoms and in doing so are becoming a xenophobic country, blaming a few for the ills of the many and in that behaviour lies fascism and ethnic cleansing. We are called by God to be lovers of the stranger, of those in need and to be good hosts to all.

24th March 2024

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Today is my 60th Birthday and I admit to feeling conflicted. I don’t want to be 60, I want to be 30 with all the wisdom and experience I have now. With grown up sons looking forward to enjoying them for much longer. I want to have the faith I have now when I was much younger. This verse reminds us of the brevity of life and the importance of using our time wisely. As we grow older, it becomes even more crucial to prioritise our actions and decisions, seeking wisdom and discernment in all that we do. I know I now have much less time than I have already used up and that bothers me, there are some things I would have liked to have done but now I am probably too old to do. I have regrets, I think we all do. I look at the future and know it is in God’s hands and I will try each day to live my best life for Him and pray that I can share the wisdom I have gained. I thank God for these past 60 years and ask Him to bless the next however long He sees fit to keep me here, hoping it will be a long while yet.

23rd March 2024

2 Samuel 8:14b David ruled with fairness over everyone and The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.

In all my years of teaching the accolade I was most proud of was when I was called fair by children and parents. They may disagree with me but I was fair in how I treated everyone. No dispensations, no favouritism, just fairness. The dictionary describes fairness as impartial and just treatment or behaviour without favouritism or discrimination. We may not always agree with someone or their ways but as long as they are fair we can accept it. Currently we are seeing considerable unfairness and discrimination. The treatment of certain humans differently to others because of skin colour, religion, country of origin, gender and degree of wealth. Our politics have become very polarised and people will do anything to be proved right including remove the voice of those who disagree rather than have an honest and fair discussion. King David was not perfect; he got a lot of things wrong in his life but he did have a reputation for fairness. He treated the poorest in society the same as the richest, he applied rules and laws fairly across all people. He made sure power and wealth did not afford you anymore privilege in behaviour or punishment. The same should be true of us.

22nd March 2024

John 12:27 Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

In life there comes a point when we have to face reality, we may have to do things we do not want to do! At times our calling to live as a Christian will be hard. As Jesus reality of the cross and death loomed, He questions within Himself and God’s voice comes to bless Him, encourage Him. For us that voice can come from the Bible, friends and family, the church. Also, it can come from inside, feelings, thoughts the Godincidences (not coincidences) in our lives, where God uses times, places, situations to speak to us, challenge us and strengthen us. Jesus was about to face something awful, something most of us cannot even comprehend and yet He knows if He does not do this then Humans are lost for eternity. We have a path to walk, sometimes we will query if its right, sometimes we will doubt and struggle but in God’s strength we can walk it and know it will be alright.

21st March 2024

Philippians 3:8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

All life is made up of loss and gain. Look at the way this pattern is present in our life. When we fall in love and commit our life to another, we let parts of our old life go and something of our single life dies so we can be with that other person. If you are a parent you know that there are sacrifices we make in order for the new life of our child to emerge and grow. Parents are continually letting go of their child so she or he can grow up. If you have ever been a carer for another, parts of your life die so that another might live with dignity, compassion, and love. There are the costs, the losses, we pay for an education or a career. We all chose certain losses and let go of some things so that other things can arise. For every choice we make, every yes, we say, there are losses we accept and bear in Christ. 

20th March 2024

Luke 18:7a Will not God bring about justice for His children who cry to Him day and night.

We don’t often call people just these days, we use the term justice for senior judges and to describe what happens when someone pays the right penalty for a crime. God is often referred to as a just God, a righteous God who is always fair. As His children our behaviour should reflect His, we should be people of Justice, of righteousness who are fair in our treatment of others and ourselves. We are called to listen to the voices in our society who are ignored and silenced, to fight for those who our world has let down and mistreated. God’s heart breaks at the injustice In our land, in our world, and our hearts should break too. We are God’s hands and feet, God’s voice so we must learn to do right, to seek and defend justice, to care for and help the oppressed, take up the cause of the widow and orphan, to fight for the rights of those being manipulated by the wealthy and powerful. We need to earn the title of Just once again as Christians.

19th March 2024

John 12:24 Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

For centuries people have been seeking the secret to life. It is actually something we see and experienced over and over again. It’s one of those secrets hidden in plain sight. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”. There we have it. That’s the secret to life. It’s the pattern of loss and renewal that runs throughout our lives and our world. We live and experience it, sometimes by choice and other times by chance. This same pattern is in nature. We can see it in the changing of the seasons, falling leaves and new blooms, and the setting and rising of the sun. For new things to arise and flourish the old must die away. For us to have eternal life Jesus had to die and rise again. That is the secret of life in all its fulness.

18th March 2024

Mark 12:31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.

At times in our lives, we will be asked what love is, who we love and why? In the Bible Jesus is asked what is the greatest commandment and He replies using words from Deuteronomy that we love God with all our heart and then we love our neighbour as our self. It is a reminder that how we treat our neighbour or any other person is more important than any sacrifice or holy action we might take. Loving our neighbour is not just loving family, close friends, close community, but anyone, anywhere, anytime. We are called to love anyone in need and even our enemies. God has a heart for the vulnerable in society, the orphan, the widow, the other (those from other countries and cultures). God desires that we offer protection, nurture and stability to all. The word for this love is Agape love, love of another because they are human and God’s creation. It’s a choice we have, not dependent on how lovable or not a person is, but choosing to delight in and love someone, advocate for them, care for them no matter what.

17th March 2024

1 Corinthians 12:18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

Some of us are good at DIY and can do some smaller jobs ourselves, but more often than not we all need the help of others to complete tasks and to properly care for ourselves and each other. I can change the tyres on my car, I can paint walls, I can even hang wallpaper but beyond that I need help, proper help, expertise. As we move through life others can often see things differently, more clearly and offer another perspective on something. As they say two heads are better than one, they provide checks and balances. We need each other. We are not all the same, thank goodness, God has given us each different skills and strengths so that as we work together the best outcome happens for everyone.

16th March 2024

John 8:12 I am the light of the world, they who follow me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

It is so good to be able to leave home at 6am and it be light, also to come home in the evening and it is still light. It lifts our spirits. The days lengthen, from which we get the term Lenten, a season in which we prepare for Easter and the days lengthen as we do. Physically there is always darkness, even in the land of the midnight sun. But there is always the darkness we can feel in our spiritual and mental selves, when we can feel weighed down, and in the darkness of life. The Spirit is able to come alongside to lighten the load, those around us can be agents of the Lord as they offer encouragement and help, there are friends and family, those in our churches who can also help us. There are also organisations which offer support. If we need help, we must ask. Talking and sharing can help bring light into dark places. Jesus is the Light of the world in every sense and is right there with us to lighten the load and give us the light of life.

15th March 2024

1 Corinthians 12:12 Just as a body, has many parts, all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

Recently I had my car serviced, only 3 days later a letter arrived about a safety recall. I could not ignore it, nor do either job myself. I needed to take it to the garage, I do not have the skills or expertise needed for such jobs. For my safety and the safety of everyone who uses that type of car, I am thankful that someone else does know how to fix it. If I have a water leak, I call a registered plumber If I have a gas leak or boiler problem, I call a registered Gas engineer. When I wrote my will I went to a registered solicitor. When I am Ill, I go to a trained and registered doctor. We cannot be experts in everything. We are all different and have differing strengths and weaknesses. We all need each other. We are part of one body but we each have different God given strengths and skills to use for the good of all.

14th March 2024

Mark 1:9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

People still bring their babies and children for baptism or christening in church. They come as part of a family tradition or because they believe it is right, they also come because it means a party. In the Bible Jesus comes for Baptism by John, his cousin. His public ministry is about to start and he comes, like the people of the time, to nail his colours to the mast as to who He is and why He is here. John feels he is unworthy to do this for Jesus but Jesus reassures him otherwise. It is such an honour to baptise anyone. As this Baptism happens God’s spirit comes down on Jesus as a Dove. This is a symbolic sign of peace, of purity, of love. A sign of God’s approval and blessing. This is a reminder and encouragement for us that God sends His love, His sign of blessing and approval on each of us in that same Holy Spirit, not just at our baptism, but that same Spirit who brings us peace and cares for us every day. 

13th March 2024

John 12:4b But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue.

How often do we remain quiet about our faith because of fear? We worry that speaking out about something as a Christian might result in us being teased, laughed at, ostracised so we remain quiet. Fear can so often hold us back from being the people God wants us to be. Belief in Jesus is seen as not cool, but is it, really? Having faith and belief is actually one of the strongest, coolest things we can do because we are not towing the line, following the crowd, but instead we are swimming against the tide, standing up for truth, honesty, integrity, justice. We believe in God because we know there is something more to life. It doesn’t mean we don’t question or challenge sometimes, but we know there is more, we see it, experience it. In that strength of knowledge, we should be willing to speak about what we believe, to admit to faith and bring that faith into every part of our lives, conversations, work, how we treat others and family, how we behave. Faith is both words and actions that back it up.

12th March 2024

1 Corinthians 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

How do you know when it's time to clean? When your feet stick to the floor when you walk through the kitchen. When your mother can't find you when she comes into your room to wake you up in the morning. When there are more dishes in the kitchen sink than there are in the cabinets. There came a time when time Jesus did some house cleaning. When He went to the temple, He couldn't believe what He saw. People were selling cattle, sheep, and doves to be used as sacrifices in the temple. Some men were even charging people to change their money so they could pay their temple taxes. It looked more like a flea market than a place to worship God. Jesus was pretty upset. This was the place to worship God. He drove the cattle, sheep, and those who were selling them out of the temple. He also turned over the money changers’ tables. As we think about Jesus cleaning the temple, we can also be reminded that there is some other cleaning that needs to be done. Our hearts might well need cleaning from selfishness, greed, careless language, rudeness, impatience, laziness, bad thoughts. Time for a life spring clean!

11th March 2024

Proverbs 17:17 A true friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for help in adversity.

Feeling alone, particularly when things are difficult, makes us susceptible to being misled and to thinking bad thoughts about ourselves. We can easily slip into believing we are unloved, neglected and worthless. This is not a safe place to be. We all need friends, family and support, people we can just be ourselves with, who can see when we need a friend, when we are hurting and need support. People who can also celebrate with us when things are good. We are so much better together. There are support networks, organisations, groups who can help and I would encourage anyone to seek help when they need it. But we also need to be good friends as well as have good friends. We need to offer support as well as expect to receive it. We need to include people and not shun them, not make people vulnerable because they don’t fit into our norms. We each have a responsibility to each other, to stand up for each other, to support each other, to never leave anyone behind.

10th March 2024

1 Corinthians 1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.

Appreciating each other is so important, realising the things others do for us day in day out. Today is Mothering Sunday, the opportunity to thank our Mums for all they do. I recently took a funeral where the daughter of the Mum who had died told me it was only now that she appreciated how much her mother had done for her and now it was too late to tell her. It is good to be reminded how much we need each other, rely on each other and how much we need to appreciate each other and be thankful for what we offer each other. I love the old African proverb that for me to be me, I need you to be you. One of the first things said in the Bible is that it is not good for humans to be alone. We were created to be in communion, working and living together, using our gifts and talents for the common good of all. Make sure that today you thank your Mum, appreciate all she has done for you and don’t wait another year before doing that again. Appreciate her and everyone on a daily basis!

9th March 2024

Philippians 1:4 I thank God for the help you gave me while I preached the Good News; help you gave from the first day you believed until now.

Yesterday was international women’s Day, I have mixed feelings about it, I love the fact that we raise the profile of women, celebrate their success and tell their stories but I struggle with the fact that we still need an International Women’s Day because Women are still so poorly treated across our world. The problem we face is that male dominance throughout history has meant that everything, including laws and stereotypes have been created by men, for men. Women are fighting against years of male dominance and male diktats. St Paul spoke about thanking God for those who had helped him in his work. Many of those were women who funded him, looked after him, provided for him as he travelled. Once again much of this has only come to light in recent years as early male leaders took women out of the picture in order to reinforce a male dominated religion. We all need to promote equality and parity, to stand with each other as we all seek to finish what was started with gender equality. We all have the opportunity and the power to change things, but it starts with us. 

8th March 2024

Ephesians 4:2 Called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, and bearing with one another in love.

When I was younger I was shown an illustration of how we are stronger together. In those days we had huge telephone directories, it was really easy to rip one page, even a few pages but try to rip the whole thing, impossible unless you were a super strength human with a sneaky way of doing it. The point was as humans we are stronger when we work together. On our own we can be manipulated, ripped, torn, damaged, mislead; but once we are surrounded by others, those who help us, strengthen us, stand up for us, it is really hard to break us. We are stronger together. As Christians part of the role of church and meeting together is to offer that support and strength, that wrap around support which helps the vulnerable to be stronger and grow. There is protection and strength in numbers. When God said it is not good for humans to be alone He was telling us He created us to stand together, to support each other. When we bear with each other and stand together, we are stronger because of it.

7th March 2024

Matthew 4:16: "the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."

During the winter months I really struggle with the dark nights. The current switching off of street lights, particularly on motorways and main roads makes this even worse. It makes the dark even deeper, more threatening. Lights in the darkness are so comforting. The lights from someone’s window, the lights up on houses over Christmas, the light from a torch or a candle. Light brings reassurance, a feeling of safety and protection. Light enables us to see more clearly, to expose any problems and difficulties. In life there are areas of darkness where we can shine our light. Where people are experiencing the darkness of grief, bereavement, illness, poverty, homelessness, loneliness, this is where we can shine the light of love, shine as lights in the darkness as God has enabled us to do. Shine the light and expose wrongdoing, challenge fraud and lies, expose cruelty, expose those who would benefit from the dehumanising and mistreatment of others. We can shine our lights in the world, be the light of Christ to others and expose wrongdoing. Keep shining!!!

6th March 2024

Luke 24:5b Why Do You Look for the Living Among the Dead?

When you go somewhere or are involved in something you will have certain expectations. Sometimes these are spot on and sometimes we get something completely different, the unexpected. When the women go to the Tomb expecting to care for and anoint Jesus dead body, they find a stone rolled away and an empty tomb. They come expecting death and find resurrection, but initially they do not believe. They overthink it. Sometimes so do we. They meet angels but think Jesus is still dead, isn’t He? They have forgotten the words about finding the living among the dead. Had they forgotten or did they just think it was not possible? Do we question if it is really possible? Once the women realise Jesus has risen, they go and tell friends, families, disciples who in turn do not believe them. They had seen the miracles, they had seen Him raise the dead, they heard the witnesses but still they do not believe. Are we like that? Don’t believe even when proof is right in front of us? Finally, Peter realises his error, he remembers Jesus words and actions and He knows Jesus has risen. Do we realise our errors? Do we finally recognise the risen Jesus and live accordingly?

5th March 2024

Matthew 7:11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

None of us is perfect, my family know that I have my issues and foibles. I can get angry, annoyed, I can cry in frustration and hurt, I make mistakes and my family have seen it all. I am not a perfect parent but I don’t really remember the bad times and mistakes. I remember holding them when they were ill, praying for them and with them, reading them stories. I remember the wrapping them in comfort and love, favourite foods, birthdays and Christmases’, being there at the highs and lows. I remember that at every point of hurt, grief and pain I wished I could take it away from them. Picture now, the perfect parent, God, who does not remember the bad, the sin, the wrongdoing, the anger, the hatred but does remember holding us when we are sick and in need, wrapping us in comfort and love, praying with us, being there at the lowest and highest points of our life and everywhere in between. At every point of anguish, grief, hurt, disappointment He is waiting to take it all, if we only let Him. God is all of the good parenting and none of the bad. 

4th March 2024

Mark 3: 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him.

In the early parts of the gospels, we see that when Jesus was around things happened. He was really popular because He cared, He healed, He fed people. Lives were made better by Him. By the time we get to the cross there were only a handful of people supporting Him. Sadly, once we get what we want we easily forget those who gave it to us. Once we are alright it is easy not to help others. Today Christians and many organisations make a difference, food banks, warm banks, homeless shelters, access to medical care, things happen but those in leadership whose job it is to protect the vulnerable, to care for the poorest and support them have happily handed that off to the church, to charities because they are fine, they have all they want and more, so to retain power and influence it is easy to spend money on popularity rather than real need. There should be no child poverty, no homelessness, no lack of dental care, no lack of NHS spending but their selfish ambitions mean those in need are always neglected. We are people of action, of love and compassion, we change things like Jesus did, by prayer and by action. We need to hold people to account, our counsellors and politicians. Challenge them, their constant misleading and manipulation of figures and facts. Be truthful and honest. That is what Jesus did and so must we.

3rd March 2024

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Just recently I was listening to a programme tracing the events leading up to the murder of Brianna Ghey. What was so obvious was how the pair who murdered her used individualism, separation from friends and family, trolling on social media, divisive controlling and misinformation to separate this young innocent form those who could support and help her. By the time the two murderers committed their crime they had removed her from her support network, kept her from others who could stand up for her, manipulated her on social media so she felt alone and that they were her only friends. Our wellbeing and the wellbeing of others is vastly increased when we are supported, when we have friends and family who stand up for us, when we do not allow others to be separated from the group and so become vulnerable. When we cut people off, shun them, ostracise them, ignore them we are contributing to their vulnerability. Those who prey on others do so by being divisive, separating someone, making them alone and so susceptible to a manipulative “friend”. God designed humans as sociable, interactive, interdependent beings who need to look after one another. We have a duty of care each to each other. Not allowing anyone to be separated or become vulnerable to those who would cause harm.

2nd March 2024

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. Having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His.”

If you have ever watched a cowboy film you will have seen them brand cattle, put their mark of ownership on the cattle so people know who they belong to. All around us are branded items, we buy Pepsi or Del Monte, Cravendale, Superdry, Adidas or Nike. We purchase favourite brands. Remember Toy Story and how Andy put his name on the foot of Buzz and Woody, all marks of ownership. When we become Christians, we are branded, we carry the mark or seal of the ownership of God. We can physically experience this with the sign of the cross made on our foreheads at our baptism, but whenever we make our declaration of faith in God, from that moment we are branded, marked by God as His children, sealed by the Spirit. We are marked as Christ’s own, bought and paid for by Jesus’ death on the cross, part of the family of God, we carry Him in our hearts and minds for all our life.

1st March 2024

Luke 6:38: Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

I have often been asked, what do you think you are playing at? Or words to that effect. They come from those who believe that acting in the interests of others is upsetting the status quo, might damage their good life. When life goes well for us, we easily forget that what we do or don’t do, can make life different and better for others. Doing and saying the right thing makes life better for all. It benefits us and everyone else. The choice lies with you and me, all of us. When life is going well for us we can easily choose to be those who are selfish, entitled, arrogant, rude, unpleasant, to preserve what we have for ourselves only: or we can choose to be people of goodness, compassion, kindness, to be helpful, to always see the best in others, to not blame but to encourage and bless. This is simple courtesy, treating each other well, as we would like to be treated. Being people who do the right thing by each other and by God in all circumstances. If we are blessed, then we should always fight for others to be blessed as well.

29th February 2024

1 Peter 2:17. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour all.

How good are you at treating others with respect? Perhaps you feel you do not get the respect you deserve. Treating each other with respect is something we should all do, no matter what we read in papers or get told on social media. I am no better than you, you are no better than me, none of us are any more entitled than another. Even if you are born into or rise to highest ranks of society, you are no better than another who does not. The moment we begin to treat everyone equally, of equal value, then things change. Compassion and dignity become the priorities, not wealth and power. We recognise the value of every life, and we mourn when any life is taken or lost. Many of us have influential and high-powered jobs, we play a huge part in society. We must never forget that we are no better than another, If any of us are fortunate to achieve well we must not forget the other who is not as fortunate and never forget God created us all equal.

28th February 2024

Matthew 7: 9 & 10 Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?

How do you feel when someone does something wrong to us or those we love. We feel aggrieved, angry, hurt. But think for a moment, everyone that we hurt, that we dehumanise and maltreat, they feel the same, aggrieved, angry and hurt. None of us have the monopoly on being offended or hurt and it does not justify mistreating others with malice. If we do not want or like things done to us, then others will not like it either. Therefore, we should not do it or say it. We must see those around us as equal and deserving of just as much as we are. None of us are any more entitled than anyone else, no matter who we or they are. We justify our poor actions by dehumanising the other. By making excuses. No one deserves different treatment because of their gender, their religion, their life choice, their culture, their place of birth. Each one is a human being, created by God as equal to one another. None of us chose where we were born, none of us choses our culture and none of us have to right to disregard another because they are different.

27th February 2024

Malachi 3:1b Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come, says the Lord Almighty.

In Malachi we have the prophecy of this event in the Temple, the coming Messiah, BUT that coming means all the issues, problems, evils, injustices and misdirection will be exposed, lit up for all to see. The refiners fire, the fullers soap; only refining, cleansing, changing will bring people back to God. Liars and cheats will be exposed, they cannot stand before God. Those who oppress the poor, who pay insufficient and unfair wages, who cause and support child oppression and poverty, who mistreat and scapegoat the alien and the stranger, who choose wealth and are selfish and unrepentant in their pursuit of it, who choose not to serve but expect others to serve them. These words about treating people properly, fairly and equally exists across all religions and all religions are guilty of pushing these instructions aside in favour of selfish gain, self-importance, superiority, prosperity and domination of others. The blaming of others for our problems, the blaming of the weaker members of society for its issues. The unwillingness to look, listen and learn from our mistakes. We are called to live peaceably, to live together, to work for the flourishing of everyone not just ourselves.

26th February 2024

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

How good are we at time management? It is often a question on application forms or in interviews. The Bible teaches us a lot about how to handle our own experiences and time? The prophets and Jesus took time away to slow down, to pray, to seek and wait for the mighty hand of God on their lives. This is an example for us to follow. Do we take time to listen, to seek His will, to prepare, to take time out from the world and all its many distractions that usually demand our attention? This time of fasting and prayer was where Jesus was prepared, blessed, challenged and tempted. At the end of it He is ready to begin His ministry, to build the bridge between Humans and God, to open the gate, the door to Heaven. Lent gives the opportunity for us to be prepared, blessed and challenged and we will be tempted. If we use our time well we can be blessed and be a blessing to others and God can and will use us.

25th February 2024

Mark 1:12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness.

Being tempted is an experience we meet every day. Tempted to disobey, to take risks, to lie or bend the truth, to take something not ours, to be unkind, to act up, to walk away. After Jesus’ baptism he was guided into the wilderness. The Holy Spirit led Him into a solitary place with the purpose of making Him rest and prepare for greater events to come and to contemplate and pray, to seek God and His will for the future. It is why people go on retreat before big events in their life, to seek God’s will and refreshment. It gives time to listen and be quiet. Fasting, going without food, allows a person to concentrate more upon God and to seek the way forward. It is a giving up of earthly things so we can concentrate on heavenly things, our relationship and calling. But whenever we seek God and look to prepare ourselves, we will be tempted to turn away, to give up, to not bother. In God’s strength we too can overcome those temptations just as Jesus did.

24th February 2024

Luke 2:49 Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?

I love visiting Cathedrals, seeing the incredible buildings built before all the technology of today, feats of engineering and beauty. I often find these visits are real blessings, things happen, the atmosphere, the holiness and presence of God. In Jesus time the equivalent of a Cathedral was the Temple. The centre of the Jewish religion. Joseph and Mary go to the temple to thank God and what a visit it becomes!  Joseph and Mary have had so much happen to them, and it keeps happening. From here the family go home and Jesus grows up. The stage is set! He is wise, has the favour of God on Him. We hear nothing again until he is 12 and returns to the Temple in Jerusalem where He remains behind and mum and dad have to go back and find Him. What does He say about where He is?  I am in my father’s house. Where better to be than in our Father’s house, whether it be local church or Cathedral.

23rd February 2024

Luke 2:37b Anna never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.

We meet some interesting people in the Bible, Anna, a prophetess. An early widow who had lived in the Temple for years. She dedicated her life to God, a life of prayer and fasting. What if she had decided after a year or so, that’s enough, I’ve served long enough in the Temple, time to move on, find a new life. Sometimes if we don’t see a quick benefit or an instant success we are tempted to give up, move on and not be patient in our life for God. Patience is something we need as Christians. Anna had been there a long time, then she is there as Jesus comes into the Temple, she speaks out, prophecy, she identifies Jesus as redemption. Her years of prayer and fasting brought to fruition in this moment. We never know what God may have for us, but we could miss a crucial time in our calling if are not patient and listening to God. 

22nd February 2024

Isaiah 58:7 To share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself away.

Have you ever wondered why Lent is Forty days? Forty is obviously an important number, it is mentioned 146 times in the Bible and is linked to a time of trial, testing, preparation or probation. Also to God’s grace. Isaiah 58 tells us that during such times we are to pursue justice, set people free, share food with the hungry, house the homeless, and cover the naked. Lent is an opportunity to better use our time in what we do for others and for God. As we approach Easter it reminds us what Easter is really about and that we need to take time to prepare and change whatever is needed in our lives before God. Whether it be forty days or every day, or any period of time, we need to have time to examine ourselves, to look at changing those things in our lives that need changing. The opportunity to give up things which drag us or others down. 

21st February 2024

Mark 1:12a Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness.

I wonder whether you have ever been in a wilderness. Literally or figuratively. Wilderness literally translated means wild deer ness, a place where wild animals roam. Somewhere we are not familiar with and feel uncomfortable, threatened, scared and not safe. We cannot see a way through or out. Life here is a struggle. Lent may be an opportunity to take ourselves away from the norm, to prepare and learn but being in the wilderness can happen to us at any time in life. Being cut off from usual life, usual people, usual routines. Every day is like running a gauntlet, fighting just to exist, never mind flourish. Wilderness experiences of illness, poverty, bereavement, hurt, job loss, failure, too much success, can all leave us cut off from our support, friends, family. Here we must navigate new ways through and out. We need to remember that although we may feel alone, we are not. God seeks us out even there when no one else seems to find us. Remember Elijah in a wilderness of fear or Esther in a wilderness of isolation from her family, Mary, Jesus mother and the other Mary and the disciples trapped in a wilderness of grief on that first Good Friday. But God is there, in the midst, the presence of comfort, encouragement and love. In the midst of the wilderness God finds us and holds us as we journey, guiding us step by step, supporting, encouraging. Lent is a time of preparation but can be a time of wilderness, as Jesus was not alone, neither are we. Those Angels are there to help us, strengthen and support us. God is right there with us.

20th February 2024

Luke 4:2 For forty days, being tempted by the devil, and he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.

Looking at how much we have in our homes we find it hard to give things up, to have less, instead we tend to want more. It is a symbol of success and achievement. In today’s society we have a lot more than food to give up during Lent; technology, possessions, money, power, position as well as food. Jesus had a wonderful baptism experience, a mountain top experience followed by forty days of loneliness in the Judean outback away from all the distractions of the world. He gave up everything He had and was to go into the wilderness or valley experience. Many Christians come off social media during Lent and recognise how it has become too negative for them. Some never return. Others take the opportunity to read more, study more. Some give up watching TV, some give up certain foods. There is no hard rule about what we give up or take up. It is the giving of more of ourselves to God that is most important during Lent.

19th February 2024

Mark 1:15 The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

We have arrived in Lent. The next few weeks can be, if we choose, those of fasting, prayer and preparation for Easter. As humans we can never be perfect. It is impossible to keep every rule completely, to not get it wrong sometimes. BUT a change of heart and a belief in Jesus Christ leads us to forgiveness and the right way before God. Jesus, the Son of God, took forty days for time apart to prepare for His earthly mission, how much more do we, ordinary people, need to take the forty days of Lent to prepare and rededicate our lives to God. Take quiet times apart for meditation, fasting and reflection to bring us closer to God to prepare us for the mission set before us. Jesus regularly took time away, to pray, to contemplate, He is our role model, our example, so let us follow our leader and use Lent to prepare, to learn, to be challenged, to seek, serve and follow Jesus.

18th February 2024

Matthew 8:8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

If you wanted Jesus to heal someone, would you want Him to physically come and touch the person? I think I would. We would expect Jesus to come and see what needs to be done. In this story of the Centurion, he is a soldier in command of others and yet he says he is unworthy for Jesus to come to his home to see and heal his servant. He recognises Jesus authority, he sees what the religious leaders could not. How do we see Jesus? Do we have that faith? Do we recognise Jesus authority? The centurion tells Jesus that all He needs to do is say the word and it will happen. Say it, speak it out. The power of God’s word. God spoke and the world was created, God’s word was made flesh in Jesus, Jesus was God’s word spoken to us. Words have power, God’s word can create and heal and change things. God speaks and we should listen. We have the power of words, the power to speak into situations, to heal and hurt, to change things for the better. Jesus spoke and the servant was healed, Lazarus was raised, lepers were cleansed, sight was restored, the lame walked. Words can challenge, can heal, can bless, can encourage but they can also hurt and destroy. As Jesus used His words for good, to speak truth to power, so must we.

17th February 2024

Philippians 3: 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider rubbish for the sake of Christ.

If you were asked to list your achievements, what would you say? What are you most proud of? St Paul lists off many things which make him a Jew of Jews. He reminds them of his zealous pursuits of Christians to put them to death. He speaks to the reasons why he could be proud, more than most, of his Jewish heritage and yet he says all this is rubbish, it doesn’t matter, it counts for nothing before God. Our self confidence in our achievements, culture, practices, beliefs are nothing if we do not know Jesus as Lord. No matter how wonderful we may think we are it is only in Jesus that we can be saved. Only Christ allows us the defeat of death and eternal life. There is nothing wrong with achievements, or being proud of the good things we do, but that pride needs to be in the context of our faith, our life in Christ for which we daily live and strive to do our best.

16th February 2024

Matthew 5:39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

I expect you are aware of the phrase, the straw that broke the camel’s back, the idea that as the load begins to get heavier, it can be the lightest of things which can finally break us. Being a hardworking, well mannered, good person is something most of us aspire to and do on a daily basis, within that we will have events, situations which make us struggle, but somehow we keep going, we do things to try and make that situation easier, we even take more upon ourselves rather than upset someone else. Eventually we snap, it becomes too much, our self confidence and self-esteem are finally downtrodden, and we react, sometimes seemingly unproportionally to that small thing, but it is a reaction to weeks or months of this finally coming to a head. We may get angry, often upset, feel violated or maltreated. The other person may not even realise the impact they have but our response should, if nothing else, make them question why. Turning the other cheek is an excellent aspiration but it can also be a millstone to our own mental health and wellbeing. There is only so much we can take as humans. God would have us treat each other better, be more ready to be kind than not, be more ready to help than not and to always appreciate that a careless word or action from us could really hurt someone and devalue them. In everything we do and say we need to think first and seek always to bless the other and not to hurt or devalue them.

15th February 2024

Mark 3:14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to proclaim.

Can you remember a time when you were called to do something, or chosen to be part of something? These events make us feel good, that we have been seen as part of something important. The Disciples were called and chosen by Jesus. They then followed Him and His teaching, worked alongside Him as students in training and then were sent out to proclaim Jesus to the world. The word Disciple means follower and/or pupil of a leader or teacher. They were also called Apostles which means emissary, missionary, one who is sent out. We tend to think of these first 12 as the most important and yet we too are called to follow Jesus, we are chosen by God, and we are sent out to proclaim His love. We are Apostles and Disciples; we are called to serve Him and bring others to Him. The list of 12 names we read in Mark soon becomes much longer, it is added to every day across the world and we are part of that list of those called, chosen and sent out.

14th February 2024

1 Corinthians 7:17 Each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.

For some the ordinary is not enough. We like life to be exciting, when things are happening, we want to be in the centre and sometimes we lose sight of the importance of all the ordinary, basic things we do every day. There will be times when we wonder what good can come from the basic, ordinary things that God is calling us to do, but we must do it anyway. Being reliable, supportive, feeding ourselves and others, turning up to things, sharing a cuppa, doing our job. Christ will work through our ordinary, our daily prayers and through our obedience in doing daily things to bring joy and blessing into our own life and into the lives of others; but most of the time this happens in the ordinary things of life. We need to see God in the ordinary, to be willing to do things, however simple they may seem, and that way God will work His miracles through us.

13th February 2024

John 2:9 The master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.

When wonderful things happen for us, many people do not see it. We and our family and friends may recognise God at work but others will not. The master of the wedding feast does not know that the good wine is a gift from Christ, so he gives credit in the wrong place. Most of the guests went home that day completely unaware of the miracle. They enjoy the best wine, directly from the hand of Christ. But they don’t know where the gift had come from. They enjoy the gift without knowing the giver. Daily we enjoy good gifts from God and do not acknowledge where they come from. We have been greatly blessed. Often the wine is flowing for us. Our troubles are often few and our joys are many. The real problem is that we’re giving credit in the wrong place. We see it as our hard work, our provision but at Cana if it had not been for Jesus all they would have had to show for it would have been six stone pots of water. If it had not been for the blessing of Christ, our life would be just stone pots of water. Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain!

12th February 2024

James 1:17 Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from him.

How do you look at your life? Do you accept that there are good things, blessings, that are God given or do you see it all as your right? Actually, every good gift comes from above, from God, the creator. Everything that brings us pleasure and joy. The gifts of music and art, the gifts of work and sport, the gifts of love and family, the gift of health, the gifts of food and shelter, the gifts of peace and joy. We are so blessed and yet we habitually blame God for all that is wrong, and very rarely thank Him for all that is good! We love to take credit for our own success but love to blame God when things are not so good. Life is a blessing from God, it is a wonderful opportunity to serve and bless others, sadly we become more selfish, more self-reliant and like to praise self rather than God. We must begin to accept and realise that all our wonderful blessings come from God and we need to be more thankful and give Him the credit.

11th February 2024

John 2:7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Sometimes we wonder what is the point in carrying on, why bother, we think, enough is enough. Often in the Bible we see people who play their part in a story because they do what they are asked to do, even when it may appear pointless. Jesus Christ could easily have turned water into wine without any involvement from the servants, but He chose not to. God works with His people. He works as His people pray and as His people are actively involved in His service and in doing as they are asked. God’s blessing came to the wedding guests through the obedience of the servants. Gifts of grace come from the hand of God, but they are received by His people through the prayers and the work of his fellow workers, us! Here’s the principle: God will do what only He can do, and we do what He has called us to do. God wants to use us to bless others but we must be willing to do our part. The gift of the new wine is given as the servants are obedient to all that Christ told them to do. So it needs to be with us!

10th February 2024

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

We sometimes wonder why things happen in our lives, we question “why me” and we try to look for reasons. As Christians we try to trust in God and what He can and will do in our situation. But none of us knows how God will use what is happening in our lives, but we can be sure that God will use every circumstance to work His loving and best purpose for us. This is true of every situation whether illness, heartache, loss, or disappointment. When the difficult times happen, Jesus is already there, He will always be there, He will show His glory; but it is not for us to tell Him how or when. When things are difficult and also when times are good, we need to tell God what is happening, and we need to ask for His help. He is already there but we need to recognise our need and be willing to let Him step in.

9th February 2024

John 2:1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there.

I think we all like a good wedding. Friends and family coming together to share in the joy of a couple. These days people tend not to have a free bar, it is far too expensive; often a couple of bottles of wine are put on the table, any more you want, you pay for. In Jesus time the groom was supposed to provide all the wine. We first encounter Jesus performing a miracle at a wedding in Cana. Mother Mary recognises that that there is a problem and she brings the need to Jesus. What do we do when we see a need? We should always ask for help and the first person we must ask is Jesus Christ. Mary had the ear of Christ, and so do we. Mary gives us a wonderful example to follow. First, she asks for help from Jesus and then she submits the matter and herself to Jesus. May we be willing to do the same, that way miracles can and will happen.

8th February 2024

Luke 18:17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

Within the church generally we are very good at telling people whether they are accepted or not. We love to make people jump through hoops, the criteria we have put in place, when Jesus makes it so clear that God accepts people as they are and with simple childlike faith and belief. Certain people in our churches try to make people follow our rules, our criteria. Often those who are rich and powerful are rewarded and given an easy pass, the success and promotion in worldly things is seen as reason for promotion in the church instead of the simple child like faith that God asks of us. When children accept and believe things that is it, no ifs or buts, they trust and accept. Children feel completely safe with their parents and know that they will do anything to care for and protect them. Children trust completely. Jesus reminds us that this is the type of faith we should have. That acceptance and trust that God will do anything to protect and care for us. A faith that knows we are completely safe with Him. This is the child like faith we are encouraged to have, may I encourage you to see God like this and completely trust Him.

7th February 2024

1 John 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

Time and again in the Bible when people encounter God and Jesus the pieces fall into place, people finally recognise God, who He is, they recognise Jesus is the son of God, the King of Kings, the one they have been looking for. Professional success, material wealth and societal prestige, take second place to God. If we want to live our best life now? Stop thinking about OUR life and OUR happiness, OUR preferences, OUR success and OUR accomplishments. It’s not about you, not about me. It’s about God. It’s about this radical message of living life as servants, of turning the world’s view of success on its head. It’s about taking up your cross and following, no matter what the cost, just so we can be one little part of the grand and wonderful work of God to transform this world. For any of us to really and truly have our best life right now is by giving it away to God. It’s not about us. It’s about God. Turn our lives over, give them up and follow Him. We’ll never find a better life.

6th February 2024

Proverbs 17:9 Love prospers when faults are forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

The church is currently on a supposedly mission orientated drive. Money is being poured into new bid ideas and missional activities while parishes are being starved of support. It seems that many of our church goals, nationally and locally, are all about us! Not God! The mission of the church is, sadly, not about you or me. The mission of the church is about God, about God’s redeeming work in the world, about living that out and making room for others to join us in that living. The world is full of people who are looking for hope, for love, for friendship and compassion. People who are looking for fairness and justice, not gimmicks, not lessons in good behaviour, but forgiveness. The disciples finally figured it out. It took them a while, it took them sorting through the questions of self-importance and self-interest that, up until that point had been the motivating, compelling forces in their quest for success, for the ability to live their best lives and share that love and forgiveness with others.

5th February 2024

James 2:7 Pure and genuine faith in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

We all meet a lot of people in our lives and they are all different with differing ideas, strengths, problems and needs. When Jesus began his ministry he encountered all sorts of folks, people who were not living their best lives, people who needed some hope for the future, something more to believe in. At the end of his ministry Jesus didn’t have thousands of adoring followers lined up to hear him; just a few fearful women at the foot of his cross. Jesus did not flash a smile and promise “Your best life now!” No, He said strange things, like: follow me and I will make you fishers for people or, if anyone wants to be my disciple, they should take up their cross and follow me. Instead of promising relief from the political oppression of Rome, wealth to eliminate the drudgery of day-to-day existence, positions of power and influence to bring success, Jesus spoke about strange new ideas like love and justice, ideas that had very little to do with us as an individual, with our life and our success and our best life now, it was and is to do with God! God’s message of love and reconciliation for the whole world, not just for us. Where we care for the orphans and widows and refuse to let the world corrupt us.

4th February 2024

Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

We have all been told at some time that we should do the right thing! Recently we remembered the horrors of the Holocaust, where the right thing was not done. In the Bible this phrase is used, Do unto others what you would have done to you. If we had applied that phrase to the Holocaust then the Nazi’s too would have been tortured, interred, experimented on, and murdered. But what happened was others were dehumanised, made out to be less than the Nazi race and therefore any punishment was justified and excused. We are still at it today, dehumanising, pretending others are less than we are because we’re male, or of a certain race or colour, or we went to a certain school or university; we dehumanise people because they are disabled or sick or poor. Blaming others for things because we believe we are special and are better than others. This is simply not the case. In God’s eyes all are equal and all are deserving of fairness and justice. Doing unto others as we would want for ourselves is so simple and yet so easily ignored! Following God’s teaching on Doing unto others is the only way we will stop injustice, unfairness, genocide, murder, poverty and hunger.

3rd February 2024

Luke 2:26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

In the temple Joseph and Mary encounter Simeon, a righteous and holy man. He had been promised that he would see the Messiah before he died. I often ask myself and others what if Mary had said no? I also ask what if Simeon had not listened to the Holy Spirit? He was directed to the temple, what if he’d shrugged it off, didn’t pay attention to that thought, that feeling, that prompting. What if we do not pay attention to the Spirit in us, to God’s prompting, that nagging feeling, that call to be made, that gift to be given, that place we should or should not be. Simeon listens to the prompting, he is urged towards the family, to Baby Jesus. He speaks prophecy, he is part of prophecy. He sees the Messiah, holds him in his arms and reminds everyone that this Baby is for Gentiles and for Israel. Light and glory. Simeon blesses them and offers the prophecy of Jesus death and the hurt to come. Mary is warned of the pain and sorrow to come for her so that the world might have the chance to be saved.

2nd February 2024

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

For most of us we want the best for ourselves and family. We want the better job, more money, a bigger car and house. We all long to be those who are comfortable and well off rather than poor. Interestingly church growth across the world, particularly in the west, is very much tied into how we have a successful, happy, abundant, prosperous life. People are sold the story of having our best life now! It’s all about us! This is often called the prosperity doctrine, the misinformation that God wants us to be wealthy and it enables some preachers and church leaders to live as millionaires. That is not servanthood, that is not serving God and people, caring for the poor and sick. If life is all about us, we cannot live our best life as God intended. We have to recognise that life is not all about us but it is all about God. About making God’s world the best for everybody not just us.

1st February 2024

John 1:46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

Young children love the word why. They go through a stage of replying why to anything we ask them to do. Many of us continue through life to ask why, to question everything and that is not always a bad thing. The calling of Nathaniel by Jesus is someone asking questions, challenging Jesus to find the truth. He questions Philip’s claim to have found the Messiah, who is this person, how can anything good come from Nazareth? Nathaniel is sceptical. He knew what kind of folks lived in Nazareth. What kind of guy from Nazareth could answer the longing in HIS heart, give him the purpose HE needed? Nathaniel then challenges how Jesus knows him. Jesus reply is to speak into his heart, into his mind and personality. Jesus speaks the truth and Nathaniel learns that to live his best life He needs to follow Jesus. Jesus speaks the truth into our lives as well, but we must be prepared to listen and to hear, then we too, can live our best lives in Jesus

31st January 2024

John 1:48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Do you ever sit and think or ponder? Sometimes we have a place we like to just sit and think, a favourite chair or room. We first encounter the disciple Nathaniel sitting under a fig tree. A place for pondering, thinking about things, working through some of the issues of his life. What is the meaning of my life? Am I happy? Where do I fit? Am I living the best life I can live? These are questions we ask ourselves. These weeks of Epiphany are the time in the church year when we get to see Jesus starting his ministry, making his way into the lives of all these people offering them the life-transforming opportunity of becoming his followers. Nathaniel finds the answers to his questions in Jesus and becomes a follower. We can also find the answers to our questions if we follow Jesus. When we ponder, when we think Jesus is there with us and offers all we need to find our way forward. What Jesus did for Nathaniel He willingly does for each of us.

30th January 2024

Luke 2:22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.

Do we like doing what we are told? As children and teenagers, we rebel against being told what to do because we believe we know better. Society only functions because most of us do as we are supposed to, we keep laws and rules and enable people to live decent lives. A little after Jesus is born, He is taken by his parents to the Temple. Joseph and Mary do as the law requires. They are people of faith! They bring Jesus and present Him to the Lord. The Lord gave them a son and they offer a sacrifice of turtle doves or pigeons in thanks to God for what He has freely given. Jesus is presented as a symbol of light in the darkness, presented as all children should be in thanks to God. Doing as the law requires sets Jesus as one who is within God’s law, a fulfilment of the Law.

29th January 2024

Luke 12:48 To whom much is given much is expected.

Last Year My husband and I were invited to film for a TV game show. As it has now aired, I am free to talk about it. We had a wonderful day, were treated so well by the runners, junior staff, make up people etc. They were so kind and helpful, nothing too much trouble. Where I struggled was the treatment by the celebrity presenter. You get the impression on the TV that they try to get to know you, are interested, want to have a conversation with you. That was not the case. Apart from a brief wave and general hello at the start, no other interaction happened than what you see on TV. As things were being re shot the presenter was engrossed in their phone, they occasionally talked to the guest presenter, but the contestants didn't really exist. For the sake of a personal introduction, a shake of the hand, a picture with you, the experience would be so much more welcoming. The problem with celebrity, it seems, is that they can see themselves as above others, that they don’t have to make an effort to even just be polite. How sad. This verse reminds us that the more we are given the more is expected of us in how we use it, how we treat others. Simple respect and politeness cost nothing. Yes, being famous means meeting loads of people and that can be tiring, but the wonderful lifestyle they have because of their status is more than enough of a reward. No one is better than another, no one has the right to look down on others, politeness and respect cost nothing and should be freely offered by all to each other no matter our status in society.

28th January 2024

John 6: Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

On a hillside with 5000 hungry people, Andrew speaks up. What he says would be seen by most as silly, pointless; what use is a small picnic to feed 5000 people. But He, as all the disciples have, has seen His confidence grow, he has experienced Jesus encouraging him, supporting him, not criticising his mistakes and failures but using them to help him grow stronger, to be more confident because of his faith and his friendship with Jesus. Are we those supporting friends, encouraging friends, friends that do not criticise and allow others to grow and flourish, learning from mistakes? Everyone of us makes mistakes, we all fail but everyone of us deserves a second, third, fourth and more chance to learn and grow, because God loves us all and God wants each of us to succeed.

27th January 2024

2 Corinthians 4:7 Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us.

You may not believe it or even think it, but every one of us can do amazing things. It may not be easy, but in God’s strength it is possible and encouraged. We may need to struggle, to keep going when around us negativity pushes in, but we will find strength from within, strength we never thought we had, strength from God, from our faith. That is the resilience of the God given human spirit, where we are never alone even in our darkest moments, because God is there; with us, around us, supporting us, holding us. In the midst of the hardest, worst times we are never alone. We have resilience from creator God, resilience in the human self that we are. Sometimes we need to look deep within, to dig into those deep resources within ourselves but we do not need to face anything alone.

26th January 2024

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

At times of great turbulence and uncertainty throughout the history of humankind, the Bible has provided a source of comfort, assurance and hope. Her late Majesty the Queen once said “To what greater inspiration and counsel can we turn, than to the imperishable truth to be found in this treasure house, the Bible?”. It’s something Jesus pointed out to his own first followers, that even when everything around us is crumbling, even though, “Heaven and earth will pass away, my words will not pass away”. God’s word will continue throughout famine, war, pestilence, plague and pandemic. And I wonder if this is something we particularly need to hear today? So much of what we thought we knew and the things that we trusted to be there always were upended or taken away by COVID and subsequent issues of war and costs. Hope is something that is in short supply at the moment. BUT, The Bible gives us hope, because it shows us that God’s big story and His ultimate plans for good are there for us all. It gives us hope because we read in its pages that what we see and experience here and now, is not all there is, and that God and His love and His goodness will ultimately prevail. 

25th January 2024

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.

Being resilient is a term banded about a lot these days. The Government challenge the resilience of our young people and in my opinion disrespect them. Resilience does not come from being stuck in a place and refusing to move and change, but rather from a willingness to adapt, learn and change when things do not go our way. Something our young people have had to do over the last pandemic years. A determination to succeed still needs people to listen, to learn, to adapt and change. Being resilient means not conforming to the ways of this world which says we push on regardless of the pain and suffering we cause, in order to get our own way and further our own agenda. Instead, we make choices to change, to adapt, in order to offer the best not only for ourselves but for others too. God created us as individuals who need each other. It is not good for humans to be alone. Instead, we grow, learn and change together. We become better people because of who are around us, families, friends, colleagues, neighbours, we all need one another to strengthen and help, together.

24th January 2024

John 6:1 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?"

Empathy is a characteristic that is really lacking in our country and our world. Instead of putting ourselves in the shoes of others we judge harshly, offloading the blame for all our ills on those we can, usually because they are different. We use disability, illness, skin colour, culture or religious belief to mask our own inadequacy and complete lack of empathy. Struggling and failing in areas of our lives can actually help us develop empathy for others. When we experience failure ourselves, we are more likely to be understanding and compassionate towards others who are going through similar struggles. This is what Jesus did when He became human, became as we are, experienced life as we do and still chose to love us, care for us, fight for us. Empathy is a characteristic we need to develop and use more in our ever increasing, intolerant world.

23rd January 2024

2 Corinthians 4:9 There are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.

When life is tough, when things seem not to be going well, do we want to give up, yes, do we, no. Do we feel despair, yes, do we know enemies and feel crushed, yes, do we give up, no! How many of us would take a risk, give up our security, our safety, to rescue someone we love? To walk away from injustice, to stand up and challenge wrongdoing in work, in society, in government? Most of us will never be in that situation and yet daily we do face difficulty, despair, hardship, sometimes physical injury or disability. For some of us every day is a difficulty to be overcome, none of us know what our neighbour is facing, what daily struggles some of us face and yet somehow, with resilience and determination, we take it one step at a time and keep going. The resilience of the God given human spirit is amazing.

22nd January 2024

Proverbs 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.

We have bad days, but we also have good days. We are human, we get it wrong, but God sees the heart. He sees us in the quiet times, when we are secretive, when we work quietly without a fuss. It is really encouraging to know that God sees it all, the good as well as the bad, but it is also a warning, If we are not that good person, if we pretend to others that we do care when we actually don’t, then we are reminded that God sees the truth, the real us. We may be able to fool friends, colleagues and family but we cannot fool God. Let me encourage you to try and be better, kinder, more caring and try a little harder not to slip into those bad days, not to let them get to us. But, even when they do happen, remember God knows the truth. All God wants from us is for us to try, He would rather we try and fail than never try at all. Remember the good you do, be reminded of how much you care for others, it is not for us to shout about or expect praise for what we do, but it is the whole person that matters, the us that God made us to be and as God sees us for who we really are, let us try to see the best in each other.

21st January 2024

Luke 6: 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

How good are you at being merciful? When someone upsets us, outdoes us, gets more than us, uses us; do we want them to suffer, to be paid back for their insults and more? Do we want our pound of flesh or do we really want revenge? Our practice of mercy comes from our experience of mercy from God. If we got what we deserved, let’s face it, we would not survive, we deserve nothing. Being merciful is a Godly attribute we can have; using our ability, in God’s strength, to forgive others, to show mercy and compassion. To offer a second chance, to work for peace, human rights, economic justice and to transform how society works. Our showing mercy and compassion means we stand with those who suffer, we look for the flourishing of all, we show mercy, even to the undeserving, we act on behalf of God as compassionate, merciful people who promote justice and mercy and try to stop exploitation of our world and all living creatures. 

20th January 2024

2 Samuel 7:5 Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in?

Sometimes we feel life is good, we have done well and things are going our way, maybe at last. King David was in this good place and he knew it. Life had been generous to him, not least in providing him with a strong house made from cedar wood. David wanted to be generous to God, as the source of his good fortune, and wanted to build a special house for God. The trouble was David wasn’t actually listening to God who had different ideas. God didn’t want David’s generosity expressed in this way. God wanted to continue being generous to David in establishing the kingship with his offspring forever. How often do we try to force our own ideas on other people, out of a mistaken sense of our own generosity, instead of listening to them? How often do we try to force our ideas on God instead of listening to Him? Instead of giving people and God the things that we think they must want, can we instead offer them the generosity that recognises who they truly are, and be generous with whatever they really need for them to be the people God is calling them to be?

19th January 2024

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

I do love Call The Midwife. Great Sunday night viewing, feel good factor and the triumph of good over evil. The mix of Nun midwives with others is truly wonderful, we see the value of nursing staff in the community, the value of support and of the relationships developed in the community. They tackle many of the issues facing the slums of London and of health amongst ordinary people as development happened, not always for the better. It offers strong female role models, in the midwives and the Nuns. No one predicted how successful it would be but it has caught the imagination of people because it reminds us of how important community is to society. Always help, always someone on our side, always someone to care and fight for the underdog. This is the society God promotes, fairness and justice, care for one another, empathy, compassion, helping the poor and making society better for everyone. Sometimes the church forgets that Community is vital, people working together in the local area, providing needed support, not because we want to force people into church but because we want people to know just how much God loves them and enable them to become part of the wonderful, amazing family of God.

18th January 2024

Isaiah 40:3 But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.

The long dark and cold days and nights of winter are difficult. The older I get the harder it is to get up in the dark, come home in the dark, the cold permeates more and the cost of heating the old vicarage is a lot. Morale is low even in the New Year, because of the short daylight hours and the cold weather. It seems summer is so far away and the change in our seasons shows how we have not been prepared for the very cold or the very hot, the huge amount of rain and storms we now have. God gave us a world to steward and care for, a world with enough resources for everyone to live well but we have chosen to exploit those resources for wealth and power. As a result, too many now live in damp and cold, struggle to eat and heat. So many children live in poverty. As much as I struggle there are far more for whom life is a daily battle. For all of us there is hope, we cling to the hope of a better future, of leaders who will make things better and be true to their promises. I cling to the hope of life in Jesus, to a secure future, to help, provision and compassion from a God who is interested in me and everyone of us. If you need more than that then please do contact someone, ask for help, there are people who will share the load, please do not cope alone.

Samaritans 116 123

17th January 2024

Matthew 11:2 & 3 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

I can honestly say that we all, no matter how strong a faith we have, have moments of doubt. John the Baptist has been put in prison because he has challenged Herod on his adultery, divorce and remarriage. John, the voice crying out in the wilderness, Jesus’ cousin who leapt in his mother’s womb, who baptised Jesus and witnessed the spirit descending and the voice of God, is sitting in prison and has time to think. What is happening to his mission, why is he in prison, why has Jesus not come to help? He sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the Messiah. Jesus does not criticise, or challenge John’s doubt, instead he tells them to report to John what they see, the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed. Jesus does the work of God, the miracles, and so reminds John of the continuing mission. We all have doubts, it is okay to have doubts, Jesus does not condemn our doubts but reminds us of all that He has done for us and all that He will continue to do for us, even when we doubt. God never gives up on us, ever.

16th January 2024

Exodus 34:6 The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands.

Theologian Elizabeth Johnson wrote a book called Abounding in kindness. In it she tries to show us that God’s love is an amazing, incredible mystery that we simply don’t fully understand. She shows how God is Abounding in Kindness. There is no end to His love or His kindness. She points out that we just don’t appreciate this. Yet it so clearly shines out in the Old Testament where they constantly encounter a God of great mercy who abounds in love, kindness and faithfulness. Then in the New Testament Jesus is the very embodiment of this abounding love and kindness all the way to the cross and beyond to defeat death itself. For Johnson, God’s compassion and solidarity for those who are suffering requires us to show the same. If God’s heart is turned in compassion towards this world, as we know it is, then we as His followers should show this abounding love, kindness and compassion to each other. If we do not help our brothers and sisters in need, if we do not try to alleviate the suffering and poverty of the other, if we do not care for our created world, then we are not fulfilling God’s role for us in the world.

15th January 2024

Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

God is a God of promises; the promise of an enslaved Egypt to be made free to Moses, the promise to a poor young girl living under oppression in an empire, that she will bear the Messiah. Promises made in the shadow of conflict, oppression, persecution, and uncertainty. Look around right now, so much suffering and oppression. War in Ukraine, in the Holy land, so many places beset by darkness, injustice, ethnic cleansing, poverty, occupation, oppression. Here in UK, so many people lonely, destitute, homeless, in poverty, struggling to just survive. Facing all this we wonder just how we can wait any longer. Advent is a season of waiting, it is almost beyond our abilities to wait, to sit with the pain of this broken world and wait. As another Christmas has come and gone, we must hold fast to the promises of God, promises made to the oppressed, the excluded, the humiliated; made in times of war and occupation, oppression and injustice. The hope is there to be seen, even in the absolute mess of the world, God is at work, He has been at work down the centuries. He is already at the side of the broken and forgotten, already comforting and defending the poor and lowly, the humiliated and those caught up in war and power games. We continue to wait for God’s certain promises to come to fruition as so many have done over the years. We listen for new promises He is making to us day by day; we wait for the peace and justice held for us by Jesus Christ. We wait, we watch, we pray that the Child who came to Bethlehem that first Christmas, who redeemed us, died for us and defeated death for us will come again and restore the world to the perfect Kingship of God and restore us to the people of peace and love that He created us to be. Even so Lord Jesus, Come!

14th January 2024

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

27 years go today I gave birth to my eldest son. He’s just bought house with his partner; he became a teacher and will soon move out. It is amazing to think that that baby became a grown man. This story of life is common to us all. We are born, we grow, we live, we may have children of our own, we grow older and eventually we die. As I grow older, I realise that there have been many things I regret not doing, too much time spent striving for things out of reach and not appreciating what I actually had. God knows us before we are born, God knows the number of hairs on our head, God wants what is best for us, He wants us to succeed and have a wonderful life but we are often so busy trying to get the next best thing that we never live the great best life God wants for us. Before we know it, our children are grown, we are quickly headed to retirement and all that we could have done wasn’t accomplished. God is still wanting the best for us, even now, it is never too late to appreciate what we have and seek to live the best life God wants for us. We just need to recognise it.

13th January 2024

John 20:21 As the Father sent me, so I send you.

What do you think of when anyone talks about being a prophet? Most of us think prophets are of the Old Testament, resigned to history, we forget Jesus was a prophet and we don’t really talk about Jesus in this way. Remember Jesus was interested in us and his followers becoming like him, just like the prophets of old were persecuted and often rejected so am I and so will you be. Jesus’ life and work is prophetic and as we become like Him so do we become prophetic. We do not just read a book and repeat what we learn; but we go deep into ourselves to hear God’s message born in the midst of pain, burden, frustration, suffering and disillusionment. From inside we know we need to find other people who see what we see and do something about it. If we do not challenge the status Quo, no one will. When we are motivated by revolutionary love in the prophetic tradition of Jesus, we recognise the pain of our planet, the agony of the poor, to work for peace and against injustice and racism and hate, so that we can transform a broken world into the community of God.

12th January 2024

1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.

I wonder if you have ever thought about why you are here, in this life, at this time? I know I have. Many people question their existence and role, some even needing help when this brings doubt rather than hope. God reminds us time and again that we all have a purpose, that we are all chosen and precious. In simple terms we are chosen because we have been born. Each of us has been chosen by God, known before we were even in our mother’s womb. We are chosen because we are here, now, and God is waiting for us to just look to Him, that He may bless us. We are keepers of His revelation: people with creative thoughts and ideas, people with gifts and talents, people who are chosen and precious to God. Do not hide away what God has chosen you for, do not ignore His love and His call, do not allow others to stop you answering His call on your life. There are things only you can do, so step out in faith and allow God to work in you.

11th January 2024

Hosea 12:10 I have also spoken to the prophets, and I give numerous visions, and through the prophets I give parables.

Various theologians write and speak about how prophets arise in periods of crisis to chart a message of resilience and hope. Prophets appear firstly as an early warning system, speaking out about what is to come. Then, as it becomes more real, they educate people about what to do to end the suffering and alter the course. Finally, they describe the future and guide people to find it within themselves. Prophets ground their prophecy in the bedrock of spiritual traditions. They recall the ancient stories and covenants between the God and human beings. They reinterpret ancient teachings and retell the old promises; immersed in tradition even as they talk about the need for change. As we begin 2024, I invite you to join me in becoming a prophet. It does not matter what our race or culture may be. It does not matter what age or gender we are. We can all become prophets of our own time. We are all needed and we are human beings living in extraordinary times. We seek a spiritual purpose to our lives. We ask difficult questions, we seek vision. We challenge leaders and politicians; we strive to be common-sense advocates for what will work best to help all people.

10th January 2024

Matthew 2:11b Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The third Epiphany gift given to Jesus is Myrrh. Myrrh is associated with sacrifice and death. Myrrh is a perfumed anointing oil used for burial. This gift is clearly associating Baby Jesus with death. In His future His death would be crucial to His story as both King and priest. The true humanity of Jesus, Son of God, both human and divine is reflected. He can and will die. He will defeat death on our behalf. Who wants to sacrifice themselves? This is something Humans are rarely called to do, occasionally someone will sacrifice themselves. What would you do if you were called to make sacrifices? A challenging question. Jesus is a King and a priest who will offer Himself as a sacrifice to die so that we can have eternal life. All three gifts are linked to Jesus life and ministry. They are a prophetic, foretelling of what Jesus was going to do. It has an impact on our lives, It is a challenge to servanthood, priesthood and calling, to live our lives as best we can for God each and every day.

9th January 2024

Hebrews 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

The second Epiphany gift to Jesus was Frankincense. Frankincense was an expensive incense, used in worship, used to anoint priests, reserved for those called to serve God and the only incense used at the Altar. So, Frankincense can be associated with the priesthood. Who wants to be a priest? There are some of us who are called to be priests or vicars. Unlike being a king or Queen, this is a lot less popular choice for people. But, if you were a Priest, what would you do? Priests are called to care for God’s people, to lead them in prayer and worship, to be servant leaders, to visit the sick, to pray for God’s people and to stand in the gap. Priests are called by God. Jesus is a priest; He stands in the gap between God and Humans, allowing humans and God to be reunited. He acts as both servant and leader. St Paul calls Him the great High Priest who came to serve and enables us to hold firmly to our faith.

8th January 2024

Isaiah 60:3 Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

We have just celebrated Epiphany when we remember the coming of the Magi or kings to Jesus. They brought several gifts. The first listed is gold. We associate gold and riches with Kings, they are often presented to Kings in worship. Who wants to be a King? At some point in life, we all want to be a king or Queen, but what would we do if we were? Would we want to give generously or take? Be entertained or actually help people? With power comes responsibility and yet it also changes people into more selfish people who want to get the best for themselves. If you can suddenly do pretty much what you want with little or no consequences, what would you do? Early kings often maltreated their people, took everything from them, treated them as slave labour. Many Kings believed they were put there by God so no one could challenge them or say no to them. They were supposed to take care of their people, protect them, and lead troops into battle. The job of a proper King was to lead their people before God. Sadly, kingship meant many forgot all about God and placed themselves in that role. Jesus is a real King, Lord, Son of God, who will and does care for His people and leads them properly and safely, protecting them to eternity with God. This King will have to die and defeat death to achieve this, which He willingly does. Jesus is our true King.

7th January 2024

Matthew 11:29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

The return to work after a holiday can be quite a shock to the system. The lay ins now replaced by very early mornings, the travel to work, the arriving and finding the internet, crucial to work, is not functioning, the keys to necessary rooms not available and the beginning of a new year is not running as smoothly as we might have hoped. The enthusiasm we arrived with soon lessens, the targets for the day are quickly undermined and one begins to feel that the hope and promise of the new year is already waning, if not gone completely. Our faith can also follow this same pattern. Our enthusiasm wanes under pressure, our desire to complete tasks and targets are thwarted by things beyond our control and it is easy to become quickly despondent and lacking in energy. God knows we will daily meet situations beyond our control, that we will struggle to keep our enthusiasm and will easily lose our focus, so all He asks of us is that we commit our day to Him and allow Him to deal with things, to not take it all on ourselves but allow Him to shoulder the burden. That way we will find the strength and rest that we need to serve Him with enthusiasm daily.

6th January 2024

John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

All through the Old Testament the story of our salvation is sown. Jesus comes on that first Christmas to show us that the beginning and the end of all existence is Jesus, the God-man who walks with us today in our hearts just as he did as he was taken up in the arms of his mother on that first Christmas. This is the unbelievable mystery that God is with us. Emmanuel. He has come to stay. He has come to share our humanity. He has wept and suffered. He cries today in the pain and the sorrow of a world that refuses to leave the darkness and move with great love into a new light and into a new life. He does not give up on us, offering unconditional love day after day. From the beginning God has offered us everything, humans have turned away. He is still offering that love each and every day.

5th January 2024

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone.

Jesus was not born in a royal palace but in a humble stable for animals. Jesus was wrapped in common cloth and placed in a manger for his bed. He was welcomed into the world by the poorest of shepherds guarding their sheep at night, the poorest and most lowly people. There was no room for Mary to give birth to her son in any inn. This is hardly the treatment expected for the Birth of the Christ Child. And yet, if the truth be told, it is all too often the way we treat each other. When you think about it our wonder gives way to shame, and it all becomes too painful for us to grasp. And yet when we look at the crib on Christmas day, everything becomes clear, and true, and lovely. God who dwells in inaccessible light, suddenly appears as a weak and helpless infant, hungry to become one of us, to take on flesh and share our humanity. It’s all about love, God’s weakness is His love for us. The Child has come not only to love us, but more important to teach us how to love each other. “Love God with your whole heart, mind and soul, and love one another just as I am always loving you.”

4th January 2024

Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

The Bible gives us hope as well as many other things. Throughout the bible is weaved Hope. The hope of a Saviour weaves through the Old Testament. The hope of all things new and eternal life through the New Testament. The hope of the Jesse tree who comes from David’s line, to be born in Bethlehem. In the gospels there are signs of the future to come and we look about us in the world and think those signs are being fulfilled, we wonder, we pray, we worry, but no one knows or will know the day or hour. All we are called to do is to live as if it is about to happen, not be caught out, live as those waiting but not wasting, to expect the unexpected and live the best we can for Jesus; with honesty, integrity, compassion, servanthood, patience, peace, joy and gentleness. The scriptures offer us hope and patience, comfort and compassion, peace and strength, may we always look to the Bible.

3rd January 2024

John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

At Christmas, we hopefully become aware that the festival Christmas itself is a gift. It was the first gift. It is God’s gift even today. And when we give gifts to each other at Christmas, this mirrors the gift of God Himself to us on that first Christmas. The gift of Christ himself, freely given to us but along with it comes a challenge to our lives. A realisation that we need each other, that we must reach out to each other, that we must overcome the barriers that separate us from each other, that we must work to understand that it is in true humility and service that we find truth. We walk from darkness into God’s light as we find the lost, heal the broken, feed the hungry, release the prisoner, rebuild the nations, bring peace among people, and live as Jesus calls us to each and every day. 

2nd January 2024

John 1:4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

I love singing carols, the story they tell, the message they give, and as we sing them and celebrate, we realise that love is ours, freely given in Jesus, but, it is also a challenge because love has a price. As God becomes one with us in Jesus, we realise that this is the way of peace, this is the way of harmony, this is the way of all reality; the price is the challenge that we must love one another in the same way. As God loves us, freely and unconditionally,  we must love, in the weakness, in the need, in the reaching out, and in the gentle feeling of His presence. For God is a God of light and not of darkness, a God of ultimate triumph and not failure. A God who loves us unconditionally and then asks us to do the same through Jesus.

1st January 2024. Happy New Year and God's rich blessings be with you.

2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Happy New Year! Another year has begun, we will spend a few weeks writing the wrong year on the date, we are all older and the time that has gone can never be got back. We make resolutions offering ourselves a new start, a way to change, Dry January or Veganuary, join the gym, go to Weightwatchers, just try to be a better person. This yearly idea that it is never too late to make changes in our lives which are good for us and for others. For many this idea of resolving to change works well, for others it seems to last a very short time before we confess, we have not been able to keep our resolutions. God offers us this new start every day, every part of every day. We do not have to wait for a new year to get a new start. God offers us a new start at any time. All that is required of us is to accept that we are not perfect, realise we need to apologise and try to change to become better people through Jesus. Jesus defeated the hold of death on us because of our wrongdoing and so enabled us to be forgiven and able to make a new start at any time. As you begin a new year remember to make a new start with God and remember you can do this at any time.

31st December 2023. New Years Eve.

Luke 1:37 But nothing is impossible for God.

We are not asked to worship Mary as Jesus’ mother, but we do need to treasure her, respect her, recognise her for who she is, God bearer, mother of Jesus our saviour. She is an example to us of one who lets God work through her and thus the saviour of the world is born. You and I do not know the consequences of us not doing what God asks, not hearing his voice, not doing what we might see as either too normal or impossible. Remember Gabriel’s words, for nothing is impossible for God; Mary was given everything she needed to be the mother of Jesus, to fulfil God’s work. We are and will be given everything we need to fulfil God’s work, whatever that maybe, we will mostly never be remembered by the world for what we do but God will always remember. Mary does not ask for our adoration, not to be remembered, she points always to her Son, always to God and looks for nothing for herself, she simply does what God asks of her, that is her example to us; at the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, may we be the same.

30th December 2023

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Within the early church they were weighed down by the idea of original sin; that babies are born sinful as sin is passed through Human Nature. St Augustine taught that to stop any human being damned to hell they must be baptised, even as babies, this enabled the church to force babies to be baptised so that should they die, they would go to heaven. A doctrine enforced by fear! I certainly do not believe that God ever intended that doctrine to be part of the church and what I know of God, babies are not sinful. The Roman catholic church hold the Virgin Mary, not tainted by original sin, in very high regard and have been accused of the idolatry of Mary. As a result, the protestant church has tried to avoid giving Mary any real value or credit. We need to find a middle ground; Mary is vital to the story. Jesus’ humanity relies on Mary being his mother, being born of a woman by the Holy Spirit. She could have said no! She did not. In any role we are given by God we can say no, we can refuse, we always have a choice as Mary did, question is do we do as God asks of us or do we say no?

29th December 2023

Luke 1:46 & 47 And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.

During Advent and Christmas, we think a lot about Mary. Her candle is for joy. We remember the important role Mary had in Jesus’ story and the joy she expresses in the Magnificat. In the church she is the one woman who has been treasured and respected, featuring hugely in religious art, music and literature and in theological history. She is often called the second Eve as Jesus is called the second Adam. She is the mother of God, Theotokos which means God bearer. She was the epitome of humility and obedience and as such an example for us to follow. In church tradition she is the daughter of Joachim and Anne. We first meet her as she is visited by the angel Gabriel and willing to let it happen to her as God says. We last see her in Acts1 v14 where she is devoted in prayer after the ascension. We see her at the foot of the cross, entrusted by Jesus to John. Jesus’ humanity comes from Him being born of a woman, Mary His mother, by the Holy Spirit, both God and Human.

28th December 2023

Isaiah 9:6a For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given.

A child is born to us. What a wonderful prophecy by Isaiah. A child is born to us, how simple, how full of mystery. A child. When we think of God, we think of great light, we think of creation, we think of an extraordinary, untouchable reality that dwells in great light, we think of something far outside the boundaries of our own mind, unable to grasp even the beginning of what it is to be God and what God is like. And then God appears, weak, a helpless infant, a child, a baby, full of need, totally relying on a mother and a stepfather. We wonder why does God do this? Why would He come in such a way in His weakness? The only answer is love. We realise that out of unconditional love God Himself became one of us and took on our own life, our own flesh and blood, that He might let us know, in such a striking way, that the solution to all our problems lies in our weakness not our strength, lies in our humility and not our arrogance, lies in the ability to love and not to be frightened and not to walk around in the darkness but in the light. 

27th December 2023

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

Each year as I read these words, I think of my childhood. I confess, I was afraid of the dark. At Christmas there was always light, the tree lights, fairy lights and street decorations. I feel safe in the light. The light of the world comes in Jesus’ birth and it shines in the darkness; we are surrounded by darkness so we appreciate the great wonders of the light itself coming to us. Jesus brings light to our hearts. At Christmas; our steps are lighter. We are drawn closer to each other. Our spirits are lifted. And rightfully so, because it is deep into the winter darkness and things around us get a little dark in our own hearts, problems in our world. For this Christmas we face an uncertain future, wars, hunger, famine, death and destruction in the Holy land and Europe. We need to understand that our light, our life and our security comes from God Himself. Even in the darkest times The light of Christ shines out.

26th December 2023

Luke 16:28b&29 Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’  “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

Realising the error of His ways Jacob Marley urgently tells Scrooge about his impending doom, that his old partner can avoid such a horrible fate as his. Scrooge doesn’t believe him, thinking he is a phantom of digestion: “a bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese,”. It takes three Christmas spirits and the whole night to teach Scrooge that he is dead inside and that, indeed, he has been so most of his life. Why do we love this story so much, endless remakes and readings? BECAUSE A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is true. we are citizens of the earthly city, the old city, we are citizens of Jerusalem and Herod is our king. We are troubled by the report that a prince of Life is born. We do not really want peace on earth. We scoff at good will unless it comes our way. We are serious in our hatred of these things and will do whatever necessary to preserve the status quo. We do not like change. We will even condemn the prince to death on a cross, worship power, status and money and pay lip service to a tradition rather than change. We have the opportunity to recognise the error of our ways, question is, will we?

25th December 2023

Matthew 2:2 ‘Where is he, who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.’

At the end of Dicken's A Christmas Carol, the change in Scrooge, the redemption of this man, happens because of God’s grace, God sends His own Son, Jesus, to defeat the power even of our death. It will take Him the days and nights of the Passion to do it! But He will defeat death itself. He will become the new Star, a Super Nova that does not fade, the Star in the East, where there is dawn, beginning, a new aeon, the universe commanded by the Creator in Love. We will become citizens of a whole new city, our Father’s house in which each of us has a mansion. What a drama God enacts in us! We are scared, yet drawn in, and finally, completely taken with this drama. We proclaim it, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it is true. Freed from Death, Scrooge was filled to the brim at last, with Life! So are we! From death to life is the story of both Christmas and Easter. A baby was born who changed the world, who offers that change to you and I, to everyone. All we have to do is take it. May God bless you this Christmas Day.

24th December 2023

Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

The carol While Shepherds watched, was written at a time when hymns and music in churches could only be that which came directly from the Bible. As this carol’s verses were lifted straight from Luke Chapter 2, it was accepted, the only Christmas Hymn allowed to be sung in the Anglican church in the 18th century. It was then called the Song of the Angels at the Nativity of our Blessed Saviour. It’s first tune was one we now recognise as that of an Easter hymn but as Carols began to become popular a new tune was adopted, one that came from folk songs. This is very much a carol of the people, one that would be sung in public houses, village squares and in church. Lifted straight from the Bible, it is a carol that recounts an important part of the Christmas story, everyone, no matter their status in life, from the poorest to the richest, we are all invited to come and find Jesus. 

23rd December 2023

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

While you have been singing carols you will pick up on words like Joy, peace, hope and love. Christmas presents these things to us and encourages us to practice them. If I ask which is the greatest of these, what would you say? If I asked you for the best present you could receive, what would you reply? Children are good at recognising that in both cases love is the most important. The love that came down at Christmas, the love of God embodied in a baby who would be the saviour of the world. We give presents to others because we love them, we come together as family and friends because we love them and they us. Love is the greatest gift we can offer to others and that we can receive from them. It is also the greatest gift we receive from God, the love of Jesus, freely and unconditionally given every day to us and first given on that first Christmas at Bethlehem.

22nd December 2023

Ezekiel 36:26: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

At this time of year, we will see the name Christina Rossetti at the bottom of one of our favourite carols. She wrote In the Bleak Midwinter initially as a poem for Christmas. If you follow the verses of the carol, you spot a very harsh beginning, words like bleak and stone, Rosetti had depression and other medical problems and treatment for these was poor, if you could actually get any help. Her poem came from a place within, a place where life was at times, hard as iron, stone like and bleak. Yet there was also room for the desire to give the gift of her heart. She also reminds us that even though this is the Son of God who comes, the stable, the manger, the loving mother was enough for Him. He comes to be the saviour of the world through a dangerous, poverty filled situation so as to identify with ordinary people. Rosetti’s poem became a wonderful carol, music written by Gustav Holst then Harold Darke, we sing it each year and declare that we can and will give Him our heart.

21st December 2023

Luke 1:44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

When we light the Advent candle for joy, we remind ourselves of the spiritual truth of this Christmas season: “Unto us a child is born.” In telling the Christmas story, the Gospel writers remind us that when things seem darkest, joy can come in unexpected places and small packages. Children remind us of the joy of playing, giving, learning, and loving. In the presence of such joy, our inner child can awaken our Christ nature and then the Messiah is truly born in us. Joy makes daily life more exciting; we appreciate life so much more; we see things as blessings rather than just every day. It allows us to bring another dimension to everything we do and change how we act and interact with those around us. Joy fills us with a gratitude to be expressed to God and to each other. The joy of Jesus being born in Bethlehem to bring us eternal life.

20th December 2023

Luke 2:31 &32 For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.

Dicken’s A Christmas Carol is about the dark side of Christmas. Scrooge hates Christmas. To love Christmas, he has to change and, like most of us, Scrooge does not want to change his ways. Jacob Marley was dead. The register was signed by “the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner.” Even Scrooge signed it. Marley is dead but His spirit is in chains and suffering eternal wandering and punishment because of the selfish life he lived. This story is the meaning of Christmas dug deep. Christmas: that magisterial account in the Bible of the confrontation of death by Life, where death is exposed, examined, troubled to the core, and dragged kicking and screaming to become born into Life, to change its very essence. We humans are all to easily members of the firm of Scrooge and Marley. We do not have the luxury of visitations by the spirits to challenge and change us but we do have the prophets, the Bible, Jesus, His forgiveness and love, but we must choose to take it and to change.

19th December 2023

Luke 1:18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

Most renditions of the Christmas story begin with the angel Gabriel telling Mary she is to bear a son. But in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ birth story matches John the Baptist’s. Months before visiting Mary, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah to announce that Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son to be named John. Because he is so old, Zechariah questions whether paternity is possible, like Mary’s initial response to her improbable pregnancy. But while Mary’s question is answered, Zechariah is chastised for doubting, then struck mute for the duration of his wife’s pregnancy. The situation and the question are the same, but Mary gets encouragement while Zechariah gets silenced. Why? … Muting the perpetual cycle of thought is a gift that brings greater peace. For Zechariah, muteness was imposed. We are also sometimes called to mute our own thoughts, to be still and know God, with quiet minds and open hearts, we find rest in the peace that surpasses all understanding, the peace of God.

18th December 2023

Luke 1:44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

When we light the Advent candle for joy, 3rd Sunday or Gaudete Sunday, we remind ourselves of the spiritual truth of this Christmas season: “Unto us a child is born.” In telling the Christmas story, the Gospel writers remind us that when things seem darkest, joy can come in unexpected places and small packages. Children remind us of the joy of playing, giving, learning, and loving. In the presence of such joy, our inner child can awaken our Christ nature and then the Messiah is truly born in us. Joy makes daily life more exciting; we appreciate life so much more; we see things as blessings rather than just everyday. It allows us to bring another dimension to everything we do and change how we act and interact with those around us. Joy fills us with a gratitude to be expressed to God and to each other. The joy of Jesus being born in Bethlehem to bring us eternal life.

17th December 2023

Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

When thinking about Christmas we often forget there were 2 babies involved, Jesus but also His cousin John, the Baptist. A pregnant Mary visits a pregnant Elizabeth and at their meeting there is recognition by the baby within Elizabeth as well as Elizabeth herself. Recognition of someone and something special happening. At this time of year when we prepare for Christmas and dutifully do our carol services and Christingles, concerts and readings, it is easy to forget why we are doing them. We can forget exactly what is special about Christmas. One of the reasons we place nativity sets under our altars, outside the church doors, around our homes is to put the nativity, the birth of Jesus at the centre of Christmas. They serve as a reminder that Jesus is why we celebrate Christmas. All the other things we do should be our joyful response, our leaping for joy at the birth of Jesus our saviour. Let me encourage you, if you don’t have a nativity set you can get all sorts, classical, cartoon style, play Mobil, Lego, whatever type doesn’t matter, what matters is they remind us of exactly why we celebrate Christmas.

16th December 2023

Micah 5:2 But you, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, from you will come one who will rule over Israel, from the ancient times.

This year there is no tree in Manger square, no hotels or tourists, the church of the nativity is pretty much closed, only basic services are happening in the churches. Bethlehem is a dangerous place this year. The war in Gaza has left the city exposed and without the safety needed to celebrate Christmas. Bethlehem is a dangerous place this year. It has been a dangerous place over the centuries and it was a dangerous place on that first Christmas. Yet Bethlehem was where Jesus was to be born, from the line of King David Joseph had to take Mary on an uncomfortable and dangerous journey to Bethlehem to register them as King David's line. As the place where the King and saviour of the world is born, Bethlehem is important and has been the subject of struggles and wars through the centuries. This town of Bethlehem is being represented across schools and churches, village halls and homes all around the world. We may not be physically able to go to Bethlehem this Christmas but we can go in our hearts and minds and recall the story, the characters and be reminded of that first Christmas in Bethlehem.

15th December 2023

Mark 13:32 But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

We are now in Advent. Advent means "to come." Do we know what's coming? Of course we do, Christmas is coming. This is an exciting time, but it may also be a difficult time of waiting, especially for children. Waiting for the day when you can open the gifts that you see under the tree. What can we do to make this time of waiting for Christmas more than just a useless time in the waiting place? We can think about the true meaning of Christmas. We can think about Jesus and his love. We can think about giving instead of receiving. We can enjoy all of the beautiful music and the decorations of the season. We can get ready and we can help others. When we do those things, we will find joy, even in the waiting. We are waiting for Christmas, but we are also waiting for something else. We are waiting for Jesus' return. He told us that he would come again and he told us to watch and be ready for him. What should we do while we are waiting? We should worship and praise him, love and serve him, and share his love with others. When we are doing those things, we will be ready for his return, and we will find joy in the waiting place.

14th December 2023

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Are you someone who reads the Bible? Or perhaps it just sits on the shelf gathering dust. As someone who loves the Bible, its stories and words of hope, can I encourage you to read it. Not all of it at once and I recommend you do not start at the beginning. If you’ve never read it before, consider starting with one of the Gospels. If you’re sceptical about the Bible, why not give it another chance. If you’re troubled by the way that the Bible has been used to oppress, please continue to wrestle the truth from it. Wherever you start from with the Bible, consider taking the next step and If you know and love the Bible and you follow the God you find revealed in its pages, most especially in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, keep reading, keep studying, keep loving it, keep letting it dwell with all its riches in your life day by day with its transforming, hope-giving, life-affirming power. If we all did that, the world would be a much better place for all.

13th December 2023

Mark 13:37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Keep Watch!’

I have heard that if you live to be seventy years old, you will spend three years of your life just waiting. Waiting in line at the shops, waiting in the doctor's office, waiting for lunch to be ready, waiting for play time at school. In his book, "Oh, the Places You'll Go," Dr Seuss talks about a place called "the waiting place." He describes it as a useless place where people are just waiting. Waiting for a train to go, or a bus to come, or a plane to go, or the mail to come, or the rain to go……..Everyone is just waiting. I don't particularly like waiting, do you? I don't like it, but I don't know of any way to avoid it. We all have to spend some time in this "waiting place" that Dr Seuss talks about, but it doesn’t have to be a useless place. While we are waiting, life goes on, and we must make good use of our time. What can we do? Well, we could read a good book or call a friend on the phone. We could make a list of things we need to do today or, we could even study, listen to music or a talk. We can read our Bible and we can pray! There are many things we can do besides just waiting. Let’s make good use of our time.

12th December 2023

2 Corinthians 4:8 We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair.

In recent months the war in Ukraine has dropped out of our news. A year ago it was always near the top of the programme, now only now and again it pops up. The situation hasn’t changed, if anything it is worse, but the interest of newspapers and broadcasters is elsewhere. In church we have Ukrainian families, some with family members still there. One of our church members went into the war zone to get her elderly, disabled mother out and bring her here after her sister had died. If you need an example of resilience, this is it. She was told not to go by everyone, gov sources said do not even try. She went anyway. Her pathway into Ukraine was blocked in many places, she kept going until she found her way in. Often her travelling was blocked by destroyed roads, flattened buildings, walking miles over rubble because that was the only way. In the words of St Paul, she was troubled, she had her doubts, she found herself in despair at times with enemies around, but she never felt alone. Her faith and her resilience born from that faith kept her going. To many this was foolish, too dangerous, not possible, but she stuck at it and in God’s strength brought her mum home. 

11th December 2023

Psalm 40:2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

Accepting failure can give us a new perspective on life, we can reassess the priorities in our life and it can help us see things from a different angle and viewpoint. Failure can also help us develop perseverance and resilience. When we fail, we have two choices: give up or try again. Those who choose to keep going despite failure are often the ones who experience the greatest growth and success. To the world the death of Jesus looked like a failure and yet from it came the world wide spread of faith in God, of forgiveness and love. What seemed like defeat and failure became life giving success. Failure does not define us. How we react to it does.

10th December 2023

Mark 13:35 Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.

The Scout motto is Be Prepared, you used to carry a hanky, a 10p for the phone box, now we all have a mobile, we prepare for a new school year, for birthdays and Christmas, for holidays, exams, special events. Getting ready and being prepared takes time and needs to be done well. We prepare so we are ready for what is to come, we have the equipment, the knowledge, the resources, so we can do our best and give our best and so there are no surprises. The story of the master leaving the house in care of servants, if they know when he’s coming back, they will prepare just before, if they don’t, they either take a risk and get caught out or are ready at all times. Like that party we had when parents were away and chaos ensued, furniture wrecked, damage done, can it be cleared up before they get back so they don’t know. NO! Advent means coming, Jesus is coming, He came that first Christmas and we celebrate that each year But He is also coming again, and we need to be ready, to be prepared, not just clearing up at the last minute. 

9th December 2023

Matthew 25: 40 Whatever you did for one of these you did it for me!

Mother Teresa was often asked why she did all she did for others, caring for the sick and homeless, feeding the poor, living a life of service. Her reply was always that when she looked into the eyes of these people, she saw Jesus and as she cared for and served others so she served God. Because we are created by God and bear our creators resemblance within ourselves, in every human heart, there is a desire to help and care for others. Yes, in some people that desire to help is so small that they never really find it, but for us, who we are before God, what we do for others, is seen by Him. Those little acts of kindness, our words and actions, the smiles, the tears, the shoulder to cry on, the hands we hold, the hugs we give, the just being there; that is doing unto others and therefore doing it for God.

8th December 2023

Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” which means “God with us”.

Asked to tell the Christmas story in their own words, groups of children I have worked with pretty much share the basic version we all know from hymns and nativity plays: Joseph and Mary, a donkey, angels, star, stable, kings, shepherds, and, of course, baby Jesus. As these children talked about each character, I remember one pupil pointing out that in normal life kings and shepherds would never “hang out” together. Their bond, what brings them together, is Jesus. They are each an important part of the story, no one is less or more than the other in Jesus. What that means for us is that from his birth, Jesus taught that we should love everyone: black, brown, or white; rich or poor; cool or nerdy; gay, straight, or questioning, old or young; at our centre we are all one in God’s love. It’s unconditional love, love is who we are, not just at Christmas but every day.

7th December 2023

Galatians 5:13-14: But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

I sometimes wonder if we realise that our freedoms rely on the respect of others and their freedoms rely on our respect. If our determination to only look after ourselves is found in the hurt, destruction and eradication of others then we have sacrificed ourselves on the altar of fascism. The term Ubunto, means I am because you are. I can only truly be me if I allow you to be truly you and we do the same for each other. We are all reliant on each other and as individuals and we will not always agree. Not one of us will ever be completely right. Every one of us makes mistakes. This does not stop us from moving on, from growing, from freedom, but only if we are willing to change, if we are willing to listen and learn from each other. Sometimes we have to find a compromise to find a solution, a fair and just way for each other. Our true freedom lies in humbly serving one another in love, in being who we are because of who you are.

6th December 2023

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.

The first candle we light on Advent Sunday is the Patriarchs’ candle, also called the Hope candle. The expectation of what God promised through the patriarchs’ and then the prophets would come to be. Our faith is the assurance of things hoped for, we contemplate both hope and faith as we spiritually prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas. Hope arises when we glimpse a new possibility, these glimpses can inspire us to make positive changes, they can motivate us to adopt new ways of thinking and behaving. We believe because we come to some understanding of how a thing works. We may also believe because it’s what we’ve been taught to believe. The challenge is that it’s possible to hold two seemingly contradictory beliefs in tension. For instance, we can believe in an all-abundant God. Yet, sometimes, if funds are low, the anxiety we feel about provision for us betrays a lack of that belief. Resolving these contradictions is the domain of faith. It’s in the spiritual dimension that we experience faith as a deep inner knowing arising from divine intelligence born within us as we find and grow in Christ.

5th December 2023

Matthew25:29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.

The Parable of Talents reminds us that we all have God given talents, gifts and abilities to use in this world, we must step out in faith and be encouraged by what God gives us; and remind ourselves that when we don’t use those gifts and help others we are turning against God and being disrespectful of all that He has given us. Around us there are folk who regularly visit others, check on neighbours, get shopping for people, organise appointments, help with friends’ children, donate to places like Crisis or the Salvation Army, give to food banks, help out at these places, offer help and companionship, pray for people, support others and so the list can go on. As we do all these things, we are doing this for God’s people, and we are doing it for God. Bless you! God has given us so much we return only a little when we use what we have to bless others and in doing so bless God. Thank you! Be encouraged, what you are doing is fantastic.

4th December 2023

Jeremiah 33: 15 In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land.

However we view Advent, a time of waiting or preparation, a time of serious contemplation or a time to get excited, Advent guides us to explore what Christmas means to us personally and to discover within ourselves that the greatest gift we can give to our family, friends, and the world is who we are in Jesus! I ask myself each year why does the story of Mary and Joseph and the baby born in a manger continue to resonate with us more than 2,000 years later? It is because Christmas represents the godly child born in each of us and the divine attributes we can develop as we learn to express our godly nature in human form. The four Sundays of Advent proclaim aspects of our divine nature; hope and faith, peace, love, and joy. The traditional themes of Advent allow us, through meditation, prayer, and Bible study to contemplate the ways to share our deepest gifts of hope and faith, peace, love, and joy with others. 

3rd December 2023

Psalm 145:14 He helps those who are in trouble; he lifts those who have fallen.

The discoveries all around us that we use every day, that we depend upon for life, did not just come into being complete and perfect, they were all ideas which initially were failures, some failing again and again; but they were persevered with, worked on, learnt from and even as they are used daily, improvements are made. So it is with us. We are not complete and perfect, we need to strive to become better and so we persevere, we work on ourselves, we learn and grow every day. Hopefully we recognise the same applies to others and instead of criticising and judging we try to support and encourage so that we may all grow and flourish together and so make God’s world a better place for all.

2nd December 2023

Romans 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

We are now in Advent, I wonder if you eagerly opened the window on your Advent calendar this morning and discovered what was there. Advent is a season of waiting, of hoping, of preparing and of discovering. The excitement of a coming Christmas, of gifts we can’t wait to unwrap, can be lost in the waiting because we do not use our time wisely. Advent offers us time to prepare, to get ready for a big celebration but also a time to discover, to learn more about life and our place in it. This verse speaks of waiting patiently, that doesn’t mean just sitting doing nothing, it means doing things while we wait to prepare. Reading, studying, learning, discovering, preparing. Being people who use time wisely, use it for good and do not waste it. For me this Advent season is a journey to Bethlehem, a journey where I discover new things every day as I prepare for Christmas. As I travel along, I am never alone, God travels with me on this voyage of discovery. So do many others who God sends in and out of my life just as He does yours. Enjoy your own voyage of discovery this Advent.

1st December 2023

John 5:32 There is another who testifies on my behalf and his testimony is true.

In court rooms, in churches, in legal cases people are called to give testimony, to tell and show what happened to them or to someone else in a situation. That testimony might be positive or negative, but it is then judged and often corroborated by others. A person testifying about themselves although compelling and helpful, often needs backing up by evidence or by the testimony of others. Jesus was often accused of not having evidence to back up His testimony and yet there was John the Baptist, a clear witness to Jesus and to God’s participation in the world, there were the prophecies and scriptures in the holy books, there were the miracles and teachings. The evidence to corroborate Jesus and who He was came well presented and clear and yet was ignored and twisted. We are called to give testimony about what we believe and who we believe in. That testimony comes not only through our speech but through how we live and what we do. We may not stand up in church and give a testimony but every day we give testimony through how we live out our faith.

30th November 2023

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

Do you know what the current best seller is for books? Neither do I, but I do know that the Bible is the most read book in the whole of Christian history. It may or may not surprise you to know that it is now deliberately excluded from the bestseller lists because it would upset the results. Before this exclusion the Bible topped the best seller list every time. Business and industry didn’t want that so they excluded it. This collection of 66 different books written over 1500 years, but with an incredible coherence from start to finish, the Bible. This book translated into 700+ languages; where 5.6 billion people have access to it in their own language, the Bible. So, much easier to change the rules and take it off the list than to admit it is the most popular book. It is a book that has changed history, changed nations and changed lives. It is a book worthy of respect and worth reading, why not give it a try. 

29th November 2023

1 Samuel 16:7b For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

I hate upsetting people; I feel dreadfully guilty even when it is not my fault. When the tension rises, we’re having a bad day, the final straw breaks the camel’s back, we snap and in that one moment people see and judge us. God sees it too, He judges us as well, BUT He looks at it alongside all the rest of our life, all the good we do. He sees every part of our life, while everyone else only sees that odd moment, He sees us 24 hours a day, He knows the real us. Don’t get me wrong, we need to apologise to those we hurt, even when it’s not our fault, we also need to apologise to God, but God, and perhaps those who know us best, see what happens in the context of all of who we are, He knows our intentions, what we really are trying to do for the best. God looks at the heart and that is who we truly are in Him.

28th November 2023

2 Corinthians 4:9 We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed.

We often view unsuccessful times, struggles and problems as a negative experience, but they can actually be a valuable tool for growth. Humility is an important aspect of life, and when we are unsuccessful it can help us develop a more humble attitude. When we struggle and fail, we are forced to acknowledge our weaknesses and limitations, to accept that we are not perfect which can ultimately lead to personal growth. By embracing failure and learning from our mistakes, we can become stronger, humbler, and more empathetic individuals who are better equipped to serve others. What we can and need to do is to give support and receive it. To be encouraging and be encouraged. To speak up in confidence knowing we are listened to as we listen to others. To see failure not as something to be avoided but to embrace it as part of our learning process, to learn from it and build upon it.

27th November 2023

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.

We all have bad days. Everything just seems to go wrong. These bad days do not define who we really are. But one ill-chosen comment, one bad reaction, one careless word or action and suddenly we are seen in a bad light. We are human, that isn’t an excuse but we are not perfect, so it does happen. But there is so much more for us. So, at this time of year, when it is damp and dark and a little sad, a little good news is needed, I think. Let’s be encouraged that actually what God is interested in, is what you and I are like most of the time. The things we do and say that no one else does. The person of our heart. That is who we really are. Each of us is an individual created by God to do special things, things that only we can do and say, people that only we can make a difference to. This is who we are and who God calls us to be. Bless You!

26th November 2023

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

As Christmas approaches, I usually buy a new decoration. This year I have found an old-style oil lamp, reminds me of the 70’s power cuts, it has a Santa and glitter which is constantly moved by the power supply and is lit up. The movement draws the eye and it makes me smile. I have always loved a snow globe but this is constantly moving and I love it. It is mixture of the old and the new working together to make something lovely. We can become so wrapped up in the old, in tradition for traditions sake, that we forget the new needs to be embraced as well. As the world changes, as we understand more and more, discover more through science, understand what being a human actually means, and realise that much of the past was established through limited understanding; we realise that God is at work now and in different ways and we the church need to catch up a bit. We need to realise God works everywhere and in everyone and the limits we put on things are not God’s limits. God’s love is for everyone, whoever they are and we have no right to tell people what God wants when we don’t listen to Him or respect what He is doing around us. We might try to put God in a box but God does not belong in boxes and neither do we.

25th November 2023

Jeremiah 8:4 Say this to the people of Judah: This is what the Lord says: You know if a person falls down, they get up again. And if a person goes the wrong way, they turn around and come back.

Failure can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. It can leave us feeling lost, confused, and questioning God’s plan for our life. However, it is important to remember that setbacks are a natural part of the human experience and overcoming them is possible in God’s strength and love. Failure is an inevitable part of life. We live in a broken world. Whether it’s a failed business venture, a broken relationship, or an unfulfilled dream, we all experience setbacks at some point. It’s essential to understand that failure is not a reflection of our worth as individuals or our relationship with God. In fact, failure can be an opportunity for growth and transformation, even when things don’t go as we expect. It can be challenging to trust but we can find support and comfort in knowing that God is always with us, even in our darkest moments.

24th November 2023

Matthew 24:50 The Master will return on a day and at a time that the servant does not expect.

It is so much easier to do the right thing and behave well when we know we are being watched and seen. We will settle into work and chores far more quickly when someone is watching us. We want to be seen to do the right thing. Left to ourselves we may well do things differently, to not work or do chores as we should, to be unpleasant and uncaring because if no one knows, it doesn’t matter! WELL it does matter. We know within ourselves but more importantly God knows, God sees, who we really are. Who we really are comes out when we are not held to account by people, when we think we are not seen. We should be the same person in both public and private life. Being seen doing good things should not be the only reason we do them. Being faithful to God in all our life isn’t particularly attractive in the world’s eyes but being seen to do good by others is. A current trend with our politicians is being seen to do things, to get what they can out of a situation. Before God it is not about what He can and does do for us BUT about who we are in Him. Good, honest, faithful people all day, every day no matter who is or isn’t watching.

23rd November 2023

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

I grew up on Dr Seuss stories and love watching the films that have been made of these stories. At this time of year, I particularly like watching The Grinch story. The idea that this character has spent his life hating Christmas because of what happened to him when he was young. He speaks of his heart being 2 sizes too small. We often refer to people who are kind and generous as being big hearted, in Grinch terms their hearts are 2 sizes bigger. The Bible speaks time and again about loving God with our heart and soul and mind. That everything we are and do flows from our heart. At the end of the story the Grinch says Kindness and love are the things we need most. How true! Nothing is more important or more valuable than love, love comes from the heart and from love comes kindness, compassion and care.

22nd November 2023

Matthew 22:39b ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’

We all meet people who profess faith in God but then treat others with contempt. Love of God and love of humanity are not two separate things, one cannot love God but shun humanity. Compassionate action, concern for the other, reflects and mirrors the divine image. Love is not an obligation but happens because God is present in the human soul, because we are of the creator. When we love others with warmth, affection, and care for their needs, it is God loving them through us. We love because God loves us and that love flows through us to the other. We express our love for God in loving God’s children. We cannot say we love God but then let children go hungry, we cannot say we love God and ignore our neighbours need, we cannot say we love God and treat others with contempt.

21st November 2023

Isaiah 43:4 Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honoured, and I love you.

This weekend I have watched my first Christmas Carol film for this year. As I watched I was struck by the lack of value placed on Scrooge’s life by others in the scenes with the Ghost of Christmas yet to come. The people who knew him in life speak so poorly of him, they take and sell his belongings before his body is even removed, he will not be missed. He was disliked and even hated and the only things that had any value were his belongings which could be sold. None of us really know what others think about us, they may be polite to us face to face, but we don’t really know what they honestly think. What we do know, for certain, is how much God values us, how precious we are to Him. We are not the sum of our belongings, we are not spoken ill off or forgotten about. We are loved so completely and utterly, we are so unique, so special, we really matter to God! Our life has real value, we are the only one of us ever to live and we are the only one who can do what God has set aside for us to do. Chosen, precious and loved.

20th November 2023

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away.

How good are you at paying attention? Do people feel you listen? Do you take in what is happening around you? This chapter of Matthew is about paying attention, attention to what is going on around us. It uses the seasons and the cycles of the fig tree to remind us that we can tell the coming seasons by the clues around us. We see change everywhere currently, huge climate change, many more big weather events, global warming, seasons are now at different times of the year. We also see change in the world, wars, innocent death, loss of freedoms, the rise once again of fascism, extreme right wing policies, hatred and ethnic cleansing. In the midst of all this change is the promise of God and His word being not only constant but enduring forever. God and His word will never pass away. So we pay attention to the world, its events and we pray, pray for peace, seek to work for good and we let God and His word direct us and guide us through all the changing scenes of life.

19th November 2023

Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.

An old proverb says, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, we can believe we are an expert when we actually do not have that complete knowledge. Humans like to pass themselves off as knowing lots about as many things as possible, but, we often cannot be bothered to learn all that we need too about things and this can lead to deception, misinformation and thus danger. Our capacity and ability to learn is amazing, wonderful, and exciting but it needs to be appreciated and valued. The Bible speaks of the eyes of heart being enlightened, what we learn needs to be both head and heart knowledge, making us not only knowledgeable but also practical, helpful, compassionate beings who work together to make this world a better place. We need to take our opportunities of learning and remembering and value these opportunities, value the capacity for knowledge we have and not waste it. Never think we know it all and always be willing to learn more, to learn from others, to value the knowledge of others and our God given capacity to learn.

18th November 2023

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

The words from Ecclesiastes speak of time, a time for everything under heaven, time to be born and a time to die, it also talks of a time to laugh and a time to cry. Crying is often a huge part of our grief, particularly in the early stages, but as we remember the person for who they were to us, the laughter comes in the stories, the memories of what happened when we did this or said that. It also mentions gathering and scattering stones, gathering stones to mark a place or a burial site, scattering stones when a memorial or place reminder is no longer necessary. As these words speak of time we always long for more time, more time with someone where we might treasure them and appreciate them more. More time to do things we always promised we would do but didn’t. As we remember our loved ones, we hopefully begin to realise that every day, every moment counts and matters. Time with loved ones is not to be wasted but used and appreciated. God gives us time to use well, to make others feel special and to treasure those relationships God has blessed us with.

17th November 2023

Hebrews 12:1a Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

There are lots and lots and lots of Christians who have gone before us. The Bible tells us these are the Great Cloud of Witnesses who we have as our example. Grandparents, Great grandparents, aunts and uncles, men and women of God who came before us, people who are part of our family, who are part of our makeup, part of what makes us who we are today. These folk we believe are in Heaven and see what we will do, and they’re cheering us on as we try to live for Jesus. They know that if we believe in Jesus, we will be in Heaven one day too. We celebrate and remember these people because we want to remember and be encouraged by the example of Christians who lived and died before us. We want to think about all the good things they did and how they lived for Jesus so that we can live for Jesus too. We remember their faith and follow their example so that we can be like them. So that we can be a blessing to others around us and those who will come after us.

16th November 2023

Psalm 30:8 Weeping may last for the night time, but joy comes with the morning.

I am a real fan of The Repair shop, and so often the items brought in are the only thing someone has that belongs to someone they have lost. It becomes important because of the memories it sparks inside them. We watch as the music played by an object, not heard in years, sparks memories that were almost forgotten. We watch as an item returned to its former glory brings a smile, a memory back to life. It is not surprising that objects and things spark memories; whether it be colours, smells, foods, activities, they can all make us remember, cast our mind to another time, place, event and person. Memory is a rich blessing, within its richness there is both pain and joy and yet the pain is, more often than not, surpassed by the joy that comes. One of the greatest gifts that God has given humanity is the beautiful gift of memory. In a sense, memory allows us to relive a moment, a time, a relationship that was so special to us. It allows us to remember God’s faithfulness to us.

15th November 2023

Matthew 15:14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.

What we do and say matters, actually what we do matters more because actions speak louder than words. When people look at us what do they see? How do we behave? What people see us do and say and whether the two match up enables them to make a judgement about us and what we believe. This verse gave us the phrase “the blind leading the blind” when those who we look to don’t live out what they say then we will not be able to either, we will be lead astray. People find God and faith because of friendship, compassion, care, honesty integrity and truth. If they do not see these things in us, in our actions then they will not want to know about our faith, about our God. Being blind to how we behave, to whether our actions and words meet up means we cannot show others our loving compassionate forgiving God because it does not shine through us to them. It is a hard job to be a good Christian but all God ever asks of us is to try, to try in His strength. May we be those who strive to be better people who don’t just pay lip service to God, who are not blind to God’s ways, but strive to live well for Him.

14th November 2023

Colossians 3:16a Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.

I wonder what the Bible means to you? For many it means very little. Perhaps, a few nice words at Christmas? A few usable quotes? The inspiration for some of our great works of art and literature? It is so much more than that. It’s the source and bedrock for all we believe as Christians and the means by which we come to know the saving love of God in Christ Jesus. It truly is the Word of life. We’re talking about so much more than words on a page. The Word of God in the Bible, points to the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ, who we come to know through its pages. And every Sunday and week day, throughout the world, whether in church buildings or online, the Word of God is preached, shared, bringing to life people’s faith. Our faith!! These words should influence everything we do and everything we say. We must let the word of Christ make its home in us. Make sure we’re well-stocked with the treasures of God’s word in our minds and hearts and let these riches take up residence in our life.

13th November 2023

Daniel 2:21 And He changes the times and the seasons: He removes kings, and sets up kings: He gives wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.

At this time of year as the autumn heads to winter, storms, rain, cold, darkness, life becomes more difficult, people often feel sad and we miss the warmth and care free days of summer. Life is the same as we grow older and life changes, the storms come even more frequently, darkness is more present and we long for those care free days of youth. Those long days outside, on the bike, fishing at the pond, picnicking in the park, little to worry about. As the seasons of the year roll around, we look to spring and summer once again, we long for time to use more wisely. In life the seasons do not come round again, in the autumn and winter of life there is no promise of spring and summer to come again in earthly life, only in our heavenly future with God. Even in our autumn and winter years God promises us wisdom and understanding. Love, care and compassion. These things that we have, here and now, we must use to the best of our ability in God’s strength.

12th November 2023  Remembrance Sunday

Philippians 1:3 I thank God in all my remembrance of you.

On November 7th, 1920, in strictest secrecy, four unidentified British bodies were exhumed from temporary battlefield cemeteries at Ypres, Arras, the Asine and the Somme. None of the soldiers who did the digging were told why. One body was selected at random. The other three were reburied. The Unknown Warrior was placed inside a coffin, on top was placed a crusaders sword and a shield on which was inscribed: "A British Warrior who fell in the GREAT WAR 1914-1918 for King and Country". On the morning of the 11th of November, he was taken to Westminster Abbey. The idea of the unknown warrior/soldier was that all of the relatives of the 517,773 combatants whose bodies had not been identified could believe that the Unknown Warrior could very well be their lost husband, father, brother or son... THIS is the reason we wear poppies. We do not glorify war. We remember - with humility - the great and the ultimate sacrifices that were made, not just in this war, but in every war and conflict where our service personnel have fought - to ensure the liberty and freedoms that we now take for granted. Every year, on the 11th of November and Remembrance Sunday, we remember the Unknown Warrior and every person who has lost their life in the service of others. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

11th November 2023

Isaiah 49:15 Can a mother forget her child and have no compassion on them? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

This time of year, is very much about remembering. The history of this word is about bringing to mind and bringing together things of the past. The falling leaves remind us of the fallen in life. At the remembrance service at the Royal Albert Hall today, poppy petals will fall in the silence, one for every life lost in war. In remembering we bring together the tearing apart of people and places by war and conflict. The tearing apart of families by loss and death. The tomb of the unknown soldier came from the desire to offer bereaved families the possibility that their loved one had been brought from the battlefield and placed in honour in Westminster Abbey! Even as we easily forget the things we promised to learn and change after each conflict, God does not forget us! We are all treasured and loved by God, never forgotten, always loved. 

10th November 2023

Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them!”

In this past week we celebrated All Saints and remembered all the Christians who have gone before us. I wonder how many saints you can name, people who have gone before us who have helped us and been an example to us. My Nan was my first example of faith, her love and service, her wandering around the house singing hymns and carols, a trait I continue even now. Even when the official church did not recognise these local, family people as saints like Matthew, John or Paul, these local and family people served God faithfully and are most definitely saints and I’ll let you into a secret, you and I are saints too. Ordinary people who have been set apart to serve God through our faith, our love, our service. There is an old saying about standing on the shoulders of giants, these saints are the giants whose shoulders we stand on and we are and will become the shoulders that others after us will stand on too. 

9th November 2023

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring everything to your remembrance.

One of the sureties of life is that we will all lose people dear to us. We want to remember and honour those we love but see no longer, whose memory we treasure and whose presence we miss as the old funeral service says. Remembering is something we do every day, it implies that someone or something exists in our memory but is not always present in the moment, but can be recalled without much effort. Remembering is the storehouse of our heart and mind. We bear someone or something in mind. We preserve a memory, we recall and bring to mind those who have been part of our lives, who have loved us, cared for us, gone into bat for us when things have not gone well. Each day is about bringing back memories, good memories, things which make us smile and laugh. We might use flowers and candles to mark our remembering of someone. We also have photos, artefacts, things given to us or said to us that we hold on to and remind us of our loved ones. God gives us these memories, the opportunity to remember the blessing they have been to us. May we never forget.

8th November 2023

Ephesians 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Learning is lifelong. It is a capacity given to us by our creator, God. For children and adolescents learning is an optimal experience. Their brain wants to learn, to keep making connections. As we get older it can take a bit longer but our experiences, our learning offer us wisdom, understanding, the ability to explore, to develop. Some of what we learn only ever gets into short term memory and working memory while other things go into long term memory, usually because they are repeated and recalled regularly; where we don’t think about something or someone every day but the memory is there to be recalled as needed. The value of learning cannot be overemphasised. Learning the skills we need for life, learning the knowledge for our career, learning the basic functions of our bodies, learning the Bible and our faith in Christ, learning to distinguish between fact and fiction, truth and lies. These are vital to our life and need to be recognised, appreciated, and valued.

7th November 2023

John 16:22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

Ideas of Heaven and what happens after we die differs among us, for me, I am a great believer in families being watched over by loved ones, of spirits in heaven, the spirit and soul that makes us who we are that live on in our lives and hearts because of the part they played in our lives. Although the physical body has gone, the Spirit, the Soul, what made them and us who we are, lives on within us and within the world in which they lived and had an impact. We never get over our grief for those we lose to death and anyone who tells us to get over it is not understanding or compassionate. We do learn to adapt and live with our grief. We learn to adapt and live here on Earth without our loved ones. God promises to be with us as we remember our loved ones, He promises to comfort and bless us as we adapt to life without them and He continually blesses us with memories of love and laughter as we are mindful of those we love but see no longer, whose memories we treasure and whose presence we miss.

6th November 2023

Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

Every time we get a new prime minister they promise better, honesty, transparency and integrity and it never happens. Things are kept hidden “for our own good” they tell us, when it is actually for their good and theirs alone. In big organisations when scandals come they promise better or they deny the problem until it is too big and damages them. Those at the top are so out of touch and do not understand normal, everyday life but apparently they think they are in touch with us . Actually they see profit as most important and all else is cast aside and glossed over. Owning up to our mistakes is the only way to change, to improve, to do better and grow. God challenges us to change, to confess our sins, it is a major part of being a Christian. We must own up to our mistakes, seek God’s forgiveness and then we are able to be forgiven, to change, to grow and to move on. We need honesty, integrity and transparency in our Christian lives. We need to admit the issues, to be honest and in doing so become better people and a better world.

5th November 2023

Romans 12:2a Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed and changed by the renewing of your mind.

As I reflect on all those I have accompanied through their school journey, I realise how much I watched them grow and change. Seeing determination, hard work, challenge and stubbornness, particularly through the recent Covid times. This comes about because of a willingness to change and adapt. A willingness to be transformed and allowed the mind to be renewed. This was a choice they have actively made. Recently we have watched 2 nations once again turn to aggression and conflict because they are unwilling to change, Yes, they are unwavering in their belief but unwilling to compromise, to make change in order to find a way forward without bloodshed, without conflict and without enormous awful consequences. One of the lessons for us is not to be so stuck in our determination that we are unwilling to change or compromise to find a better way. Not to be so stuck in our belief that we are unwilling to listen to another’s. Not to be so resolved on an issue that we cannot see the wrong within it. Determination is a good thing but only when it allows us to be transformed, to change and adapt as we grow.

4th November 2023

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

I wonder, do you know in which UK public building these words, written in Latin, are found? ‘Unless the Lord builds the house the builders labour in vain’ (Psalm 127.1). These are laid in the floor of the Central Lobby in the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Our politicians walk over these daily! They are a reminder that Scripture, the Bible, has informed, shaped and provided the foundations of our country. God’s word is a strong foundation for a nation, and for God’s people as we know it and learn to live by it. Colossians reminds us to let the word, God’s word, dwell in us, live within us. The Bible is a living word, God’s word. Those words in Westminster are there to remind politicians that they are there to serve, sadly these days these words are trodden under foot just as people are trodden under foot in the pursuit of power and wealth and God seems forgotten by the very people called to serve. Perhaps they need reminding that they are servants of us all.

3rd November 2023

Ephesians 1:16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

This time of year is about remembering, bringing actively to our minds the people and events stored there. Remembering is something that should happen fairly easily, without too much effort. This is slightly different to recollection where we learn and recall information, usually for an exam or test. Remembering what is in our storehouse enables us to function on a day to day basis, learning how to talk and walk, learning to read all stay with us for life, learning those things to enable us to look after ourselves, learning how to behave within society, these become second nature, we learn them and they are part of us, we don’t always value them because they are part of our normal experience. IN those early years of life we are like a sponge soaking up everything, our capacity for learning is enormous. We are born with about 100 billion neurons which then make connections as we learn and grow. Our remembering in prayer is such a blessing both to ourselves but also others who we offer up to God for His care and blessing. Remembering someone in prayer is one of the greatest gifts and blessings we can give.

2nd November 2023

Romans 1:7 To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today is All Souls, part of three days where we remember the saints, not just the canonised ones but all those who have gone before, served the Lord and been an inspiration to us. All Hallows Eve, now called Halloween, readies us for the remembrance of those who who were called of God, also called saints, blessed and holy. For centuries the church had its local saints, there were so many that there were just not enough days in the year so the church created All Hallows or All Saints Day when we could remember these special people. Every one of us as God’s children is to be remembered and treasured and so on All Souls we remember those we love but see no longer, who memories we treasure and whose presence we miss. So today remember those folk, those saints from your life, those who have made you who you are, blessed you and given so much to you, and thank God for them.

1st November 2023

Psalm 90:17 May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us, yes, establish the work of our hands.

My husband and I are now pretty much empty nesters, one son working, away a lot, the other studying and working away. Sometimes we don’t hear from or see the boys for days, but they know we are always here, supporting and loving. I miss them terribly; the years of a young family have gone so quickly. I am so proud of them and we would never stop them pursuing the right way forward for them, even if that means hardly seeing them. Our children, as they grow, must take on life’s responsibilities, learning to live and adapt for themselves. The same applies to us as Christians, we have a family to support and help us but we have to take on life’s responsibilities for ourselves, we must learn to live out our faith, adapt as necessary and grow up in faith. God is always with us, we are constantly loved and supported and, in His strength, we learn, grow, change and adapt. Our children may not ring us every day, but we need to be in contact with God every day; a constant relationship offering support and strength in daily life. Just as our children are our greatest blessing and give us such pride and joy, we too, should be God’s greatest blessing, giving Him pride and joy in us.

31st October 2023

Colossians 3:16 Christ's message in all its richness must live in your hearts. Teach and instruct one another with all wisdom. Exceed in hope.

As a school Chaplain one of things, I hear from those who have our students on placement, or meet them outside school, is how confident and self-assured they are. Not a confidence that is overstated or over played, but rather where it allows independence, good choices, active participation and decision making. Part of our school life is about developing young people, not just as those who are successful in exams but those who will become wonderful adults in our world. We make it clear that this does not just depend on exam results but also how one relates as a person. How we communicate, how we make decisions, how we function under pressure, how we develop as a person. The same is true of us as Christians, it is not all about Bible Knowledge but as much about how we live out our knowledge and our faith. How we communicate, make decisions, offer hope and forgiveness, how we function in everyday life. Head knowledge doesn’t change lives, heart knowledge and thus action does change lives, may Christ’s message live actively in our hearts.

30th October 2023

Nehemiah 8:8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.

In the history of God’s people, His word brought to the people through prophets and teaching was key. By the time we reach the story of Nehemiah the people had turned away but they are brought back through reading God’s word and they reaffirmed their identity as God’s people, bound to him in a sacred covenant. Those words and many others are written in our Bible. Once a year we have Bible Sunday, when we give thanks for the Bible in the life of Christian faith. We commit 'to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest’ the Scriptures, we pray for those who don’t have a Bible in their own language, and for those whom owning and reading a Bible is an offence under the laws of their land. Our Bible is made up of the Old and New Testaments, the story of God’s love throughout history. Still people turn away and still it has the power to bring us back to God when it is read and lived out. 

29th October 2023

Nehemiah 8:6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!”

One of the amazing scenes of the Rugby world cup has been watching certain nations pray before and after matches. Standing together, some on their knees, praying in faith. During matches we saw some players thanking God, looking up to the Heavens in grateful praise. It has been a blessing to realise that although we, in the UK, are not so bothered by our background and history of faith and Biblical teaching, other nations still are. I found real inspiration in the faith of the Fijian team. When the last world cup was here in the UK, we met with players from Samoa who wanted to meet and pray with Christians while they were away from home. I long for, and pray for, a reaffirming of us, of the UK, as God’s people, bound to Him. I look for that reawakening, that revival seen in previous times when people were challenged to live differently and take God and His word seriously again. That prayer starts with us, in our churches, in our own private prayers, as we seek to live our lives for God and through our prayers change things.

28th October 2023

Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house the builders labour in vain.

Our weather is a constant source of conversation but also of horror and upset at the moment. People have been flooded, some repeatedly this year. People are seeing their possessions and homes damaged and destroyed. Some will not be back in their homes before Christmas. There is very little temporary housing to help and insurance companies just won’t insure anyone who has been flooded. We believe as humans that we are in control, that we have mastered nature and can do what we like without consequence. We have been so selfish, so money orientated that we have built on flood plains, built developments without infrastructure, put more homes on land than there is space for and not put in defences. We are reminded that unless the Lord builds the house, unless we build in God’s ways, correctly, unselfishly, caring for our environment, then we labour in vain. When we do not care for creation, when we become greedy and selfish all we succeed in doing is hurting God and hurting one another.

27th October 2023

Matthew 21:29 The son answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went.

How good are you at keeping your word? Are we people of our word and do what we say we will? Jesus reminds us that we can say we will help, we will do what is asked of us but then walk away and immediately forget, maybe even deliberately, and go and do something else. That is not a good or honest way to be. We can also say we won’t do something and then on reflection decide we should. All of us are quite good at doing this with our family and friends. God would prefer us to do what we say in the first place, but if we do say no to begin with God is very happy when we change our minds and do the right thing. Are we people who say one thing and do another? Let’s try to be people who do what we say, who live up to helping others and looking after the interests of others as well as ourselves.

26th October 2023

Ephesians 5:15 So, then, be careful how you live. Do not be unwise but wise, making the best use of your time.

In a few days time we will set our clocks and watches back an hour as British Summer Time ends. I wonder how many clocks you have in your house? All will need to be reset this weekend. We have a few lovely clocks, most with a story or special reason behind them. I find clocks fascinating and quite comforting. I love the sound of a solid tick, tick, reassuring, steady, informative. I have never had a loud chiming clock but many people love them and find them reassuring and comforting, especially at night. We use the terms clock face and hands; these are human traits. The passing of time is both comforting and concerning as we can never get back the time that is lost and gone, clocks are a reminder of using our time wisely. The Bible speaks a lot about time, using it well and how our time is measured. God himself has also been mixed up with Old Father Time in our history, because God is the ultimate measurer of time. We are called to make the best use of our time to share God’s love, to help one another and to make the world more like the wonderful perfect world God originally created for us to enjoy.

25th October 2023

Ecclesiastes 9:10a Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

Watching the rugby and cricket world cups has reminded me, once again, about the commitment, time and energy, the focus, needed to be the best in sport. Often these folk have little home life, relationships suffer, constant travelling and training, sacrifices are made to be “the best”. For most of us this never comes, we never live in that bubble of success and celebrity but that should never stop us striving to be the best we can be in everything we do. Striving to be the best parent, the best teacher, nurse, secretary, PA, the best bus driver, shop keeper…….. the best Christian we can be. In all we do God asks us to do it with all our might, all our commitment and drive. For our Christian life that means living it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, living it at work, at home, at rest and play, in our family and in our hobbies. Whatever we do or say should be the best we can be as a Christian. Our commitment means spending time studying the Bible, praying, learning, serving, being part of a church and growing in faith. God only asks we try, day in, day out, and He stands by us, helping, strengthening, guiding us if we let Him.

24th October 2023

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

What is life about for you? Is it about what you can get for yourself, the most money, the biggest house, the best holidays? It is true we all want the best for our families but God’s creation is all about relationship. We are reminded by St Paul that we need to look after the interests of others as well as ourselves. How do we look after the interests of others? Do we help other people? Do we share with others? Are we interested in what happens to other people or just ourselves? Lots of people in our world are going hungry, in our country one person in five is going hungry, mostly children and then the elderly. Many parents are going without food to make sure their children have enough. These are people who are in work but just cannot afford to live because the cost of living is now so high. How can we help? We can give out of what we have. Donate something to the food bank, we can share so that others can have enough. We may not have huge amounts ourselves but we can all share a little.

23rd October 2023

Acts 28:2 The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.

Once October comes and the nights draw in, I really begin to struggle. I have been told it is SAD, Seasonally Affected Disorder, where I and many, many thousands of others struggle with less sunlight, cold weather and short days. It has a link to why some animals hibernate, and common symptoms are sleeping more, difficulty getting up, eating more which are just like hibernation. The things that help are light and heat which in a cost-of-living crisis become more difficult to obtain. The light and warmth of our hospitality to others can make a difference. Receiving each other with compassion and warmth, sharing good things, offering smiles and light through our conversations and contact with each other. The warmth of heating is really important and the warmth of welcome is vital to keep one another blessed, encouraged and well.

22nd October 2023

Acts 17: 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

As many of us do I have photos or posters of favourite places in my office. One of them is of the Lake District, taken from the Kirkstone Pass above Lake Windermere. It is a very special place for me, particularly my youth when I regularly sailed and swam on and in the lake, climbed the mountains and walked miles. It is what I would call a thin place, by that I mean a place where you feel nearer to God, where the distance between Earth and Heaven seems very small and God seems almost in touching distance. Anywhere in this place enables me to feel closer, to hear better, to see more. The first time I took my children there I was so excited, I wanted to pass on this love I had and 2 young boys swimming in the Lake, walking in the hills, sitting by the Kirkstone was amazing. They both still have a love for this place as well. There are places where we can feel nearer to God, and sometimes it is a good thing to be reminded by a photo or a visit. God is never far from any one of us but sometimes He can feel closer and those are the places and times we should always look for.

21st October 2023

Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

When life seems unfair, when we struggle to forgive, when we question why someone should get away with bad things, we can be assured that there are consequences. Just because we forgive in God’s strength it does not stop the consequences of someone’s actions and their punishment. We must remember, the same applies to us. Sin has consequences; forgiveness in God’s strength does not nullify these consequences. We remember that on the cross they hurled insults at Jesus but He did not retaliate. He suffered but he made no threats. Instead, he looked down on the crowd below Him, people who loved him and hated him, who revered and feared him, who had kissed and flogged him, who had cheered Hosanna and who had cried “Crucify him” and experiencing all the pain and agony of one betrayed and broken, He said “Father forgive them” When we stop judging and start forgiving, we can begin to love, to be at peace and to find a real freedom in Jesus’ love for us. 

20th October 2023

2 Corinthians 2:10 But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ.

There are days when we all question, when we all struggle with our faith, with forgiveness, with why bad things happen. Sometimes the pain is too great. It seems beyond our human strength to understand and forgive. Jamie Bulger, Stephen Laurence, the families of those killed in the London Bombings, the events of 9/11 in New York. The Bible teaches us that forgiveness is so important. That we need to let go, not in our own strength but in God’s. Hundreds and thousands of people struggle with their feelings of loss and devastation, hopelessness and grief, they wrestle with God and question their faith. Many people are trapped in prisons of unforgiveness because of broken relationships and betrayal, abuse and breakdown of trust, perceived injustice and deception. Our lack of forgiveness eats away at us, so that we cannot be ourselves, our lives are clouded by unresolved pain from the past, we cannot find peace, we might just have to “Let go and let God”, put judgement aside and put the matter in God’s hands, our only option is to let go and let God or else be eaten away. 

19th October 2023

Proverbs 25:8 Don't jump to conclusions - there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw.

We all jump to conclusions, decide on something without knowing all the facts. A thought to contemplate for all of us, is that when someone offends us, they may well never have intended to. Sometimes shyness, ignorance, misunderstanding can result in a non-intentional upset. We need to try not to jump to conclusions. Humans are not perfect, we do sometimes do and say the wrong thing but often we do not mean to offend anyone, we do not mean it as a hostile act. We need to be willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, to be forgiving and reasonable. We need to treat others as we would like to be treated and as God willingly treats us. As humans we are so very capable of acting without thought for others, without fairness and justice, without kindness, but we have the choice as to whether we behave like that or behave in the loving, compassionate and forgiving way God intended.

18th  October 2023

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

The sudden cold snap has taken many of us by surprise, lulled into a false sense of security that October will be warm. From over 20 degrees suddenly the overnight temperature dropped to 2 degrees, in some places even minus. From just a T-shirt we now need several layers, coats and gloves to be found and everyone in my household has come down with a cold. Life can change in an instant, things around us change quickly, in the words of the hymn, “change and decay in all around I see, o Thou who changes not, abide with me". The one constant for us as Christians is God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is with us at all times and in all places, the heat, the cold, the peace, the war, the comfortable and uncomfortable, the wealth and the poverty. Sometimes we need a reminder that God is a constant, that the unconditional love of Jesus never changes.

17th October 2023

John 11: 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.

No matter what Jesus does He is unpopular with someone! Even when doing good, healing, helping, caring, this very attitude puts Him at odds with, of all people, religious leaders. For the leaders of Jesus’ time it was about power, the way to the top, the best homes and food, authority over others. What is it for us? It should be about service, caring for the other, loving our neighbour, empathy and compassion. Jesus was only ever concerned about people, their physical and mental health, their ability to feed and care for their families. What are our concerns? Right now in our world and our politics the servanthood, the care and compassion has gone, it is actively criticised, condemned and very unpopular. Those of us who stand for this compassion, concern, mental and physical health provision, the welcoming of the stranger, can risk making us very unpopular. Yet if Jesus was willing to be unpopular to do the right thing, then so should we.

16th October 2023

Isaiah 43: 19a &25 See, I am doing a new thing……..I am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more”

When things are not going well, we will often try something new. In sports when a team is losing or struggling, they will often try something new as they have nothing to lose. As humans, everything God was doing to bring us back to Him was not working as time went on and human nature turned us away. So, God does something new He sends Jesus to show us the true meaning of love and forgiveness. Jesus gave sight to the blind, clean skin to the leper, wholeness to the lame, but the greatest miracle of all was the forgiveness of sins. But there is a caveat. We have a part to play in our own forgiveness. We have to turn to Jesus, accepting our responsibility and wanting to change but Jesus also made it very clear on many occasions that we do not only receive love and forgiveness, we are also called to show love and forgiveness to others. 

15th October 2023

Matthew 21:38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’

Remember that saying Possession is nine tenths of the law. As creator this is God’s world, He made it and He asked us to care for it. He has the right to take back but because of His love for us He is in no position to enforce it. When Jesus teaches about the tenants in the vineyard, He shows the betrayal of humans against their forgiving loving God. Not only do the wicked tenants, or humans, take what is not theirs and refuse to give it back, they are also plotting murder. Murder the son and keep the land. Surely, we can’t be compared to the tenants in the story, we wouldn’t do that, hurt people, cheat people, contemplate murder. Sadly, murder is the grim pinnacle of the upward slope of sin, where things can lead if not kept in check. We need to make sure we are not treating God’s creation and God Himself with disrespect, that we do not take what is rightfully God’s possession and want to keep it for ourselves. God actually wants to freely give us our inheritance through Jesus, the question is whether we want to accept Him or not.

14th October 2023

Isaiah 26:3 - You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are set on you, because they trust in you.

Within our weekly service we say Peace be with you to each other. We wish peace and blessing upon each other as Jesus did to the disciples. Jesus knew that peace and forgiveness go hand in hand. And because it is so hard for us to be forgiving, He gave us the Holy Spirit to help us and to strengthen us, because we are unable to be forgiving in our own strength. You see, hatred does not bring peace, negative anger cannot create hope or bring peace, revenge does not solve any problems and brings the opposite of peace, turmoil. Jesus knew that forgiveness is incredibly hard for people. Pride, hurt and anger get in the way. We can be quick to judge and slow to forgive. Pride prevents us from taking that first step to heal a relationship and restore peace. The God of the Old Testament, of Abraham and of Jacob, is often presented to us as an angry God and a God frustrated by his people but when look deeper you see that primarily He was and is a patient and forgiving God who wants peace for all His children.

13th October 2023

Matthew7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

What do you think is acceptable and what do you not? Each of us in our society have wrongs which we somehow think are now acceptable. The lines have become blurred and the more we accept as okay, the more society seems happy to do wrong. Tax evasion, fiddling expenses, taking from the elderly, shoplifting, speeding, cyclists ignoring red lights, insider trading, tax havens; basically, making sure that if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Every sin, from the smallest to the greatest, is the failure to give others their due. Society has its norms and rules to make things work, the queue, waiting our turn, speed limits, paying taxes, personal space, not taking what belongs to others, not cheating in exams, fair wages. At the centre of all this and our faith is a simple rule which cuts through it all. The Golden Rule, behaving towards others as you would want them to behave towards you. We all want to be treated fairly, politely, considerately and kindly, so we must treat others that way too and without waiting for them to do it first.

12th October 2023

Colossians 3:17 Everything you do or say, then, should be done to your best and more in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks.

If we took practical exams on being a Christian, how well would we do? Jesus and the early church offered teaching and help on the expectation of how we live out our faith. In our daily lives and relationships, we are called to be people of patience, forgiveness, love, peace, wisdom, and hope. How we treat one another matters. What we both do and say matters. Others are patient with us, so we need to be patient with one another. Forgiveness isn’t easy but we are forgiven so often by God, by family and friends, we need to be able to forgive as well and not hold grudges. We need practical love for our fellow humans which makes us compassionate, caring, and considerate as well as being at peace with ourselves and the decisions we make, being wise enough not to try and make ourselves more important than we are and in this world. We also must have hope, hope for a world that sometimes seems daunting, angry, inhospitable, and very selfish. We are part of that future hope, we can make the world a better place by what we do and say, how we behave, react, treat one another, and grow as Christian people. When we do these things, live as practical loving Christians, people will see it, will experience it in us and will speak of that to others.

11th October 2023

Matthew 21:41b He will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.

In 30 years of marriage, we have only lived in one house that we owned and then only for about 18 months. We have lived in rented accommodation or vicarages. These places were and are not ours, we would make many changes if they were. We are stewards of our landlord’s house, and there is a conflict between the aspirations we have for the house and what the owner wants for it. Stewards and tenants should care for that which is entrusted to them, doing the best they can for the owner. Being a good steward will lead us to suppress our own desires and wants, to focus on another’s agenda. The church is a steward of God’s mission to the world, He generously entrusts the worldwide church, us, with it. As tenants in God’s world, and entrusted with his mission, we must not impose our aspirations and desires on the church, or on others. This is God’s world and we should be good stewards of all He has lovingly given us.

10th October 2023

Psalm 146:7a Who executes justice for the oppressed; Who gives food to the hungry?

It is regularly reported that over the last five years, the number of people forced to turn to a food bank because they cannot afford to eat has soared. This includes people who work in supposedly good jobs. Some food banks are now based in Hospitals because of the number of nurses who need them just to survive. The Food Foundation reports a total of 9.3 million adults experienced food insecurity in January 2023, Around 3.2 million adults reported not eating for an entire day because they could not afford food, or did not eat so their children had some food. Children living in poverty are more at risk of being exploited by or becoming victim to criminal gangs, mental health, physical health are deeply affected. Almost 40% of children in a one parent family are in poverty. Disabled households have to find an average of almost £12,000 more a year to achieve the same standard of living as non-disabled households. Gender affects poverty, with three million women in low paid jobs. The challenge for us today is to share out more fairly what we have. We are all from differing backgrounds, statistics tell us there will be those among us who regularly go without. We need to rise to the challenge of helping when we can. As God has freely and abundantly given to us, so we need to give to others freely and abundantly.

9th October 2023

Matthew 9:5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?

For centuries the church has peddled the idea that illness and disability is a result of sin. How easy it is to look down on someone and blame them for their circumstances. We know that this is not true. Doing wrong does not cause illness unless through self-harm and carelessness. But it is true that doing wrong does affect us, psychologically, mentally and spiritually. There is a psychosomatic reaction where mental and psychological problems manifest themselves physically. We are all brought low by badness, cruelty, bullying, teasing. When we do wrong it affects us. We may not see it immediately but over time it does. We become angry, cold, aggressive, unpleasant people, and it makes us physically suffer; aches, pains, lack of strength and fitness. When we are forgiven, it lifts the burden, it helps the bowed head and back straighten, the coldness thaws, the aggression lessens. This does not mean all physical illness is healed, but somehow, by the grace of God, things improve, get better and we become better people. Being forgiven and forgiving others is the key to a much better quality of life.

8th October 2023

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

I wonder if you watch or even like The Simpsons. It has been running for years and usually I find people love it or hate it. We often watch it as years ago my husband did a focus group on it and its morals and lessons for the Christian church. Much of it satirises differing aspects of religion and church. Some episodes have a very spiritual and moral aspect to them. One of its most powerful messages is that of forgiveness and unconditional love. The very Christian neighbour Ned Flanders somehow keeps forgiving and helping the family, even when they mistreat him. The mother Marge constantly finds the good in every situation, encouraging and supporting her children and her incompetent husband through everything. Whatever you think of it, it has a huge following in the church as well as outside it. This family go to church every week, pray before meals and bed, often ask God for help and experience God at work in their lives. None of us are perfect, we all get things wrong and let people down and yet God’s love for us is unconditional, He sticks with us through thick and thin and all He asks of us is that we try to be better parents, children, neighbours, friends and Christians in His strength.

7th October 2023

Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

You would think that in this day and age we would have the best definition of things and yet Thomas Watson wrote a bible-based definition of forgiveness 300 years ago which is so clear: Forgiveness is “when we strive against all thoughts of revenge, when we will not do our enemies mischief but wish them well, we grieve at their calamities, pray for them, seek reconciliation with them and show ourselves ready on all occasions to release them”. Each part of this definition is from the bible. It is very clear our forgiveness is to extend to all people, just as the forgiveness of God through Christ extends to all people. Jesus often linked love for enemies and forgiving others with receiving peace. To forgive others, to pray for them, brings peace, the same peace that we can experience every day because we have been forgiven and we are prayed for by others. 

6th October 2023

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

I get very frustrated with computers, especially passwords. I seem to constantly have to change them, get told I entered them wrongly etc. I have just found out that we spend, as humans, 500,000 hrs a day typing in security codes and passwords. This seems to me to be very inefficient, surely there is a better way? Of course, we need security but every time they say they have new more effective things in place, things just get worse and we suffer. I am so glad that with God We do not need passwords or security codes, we do not need to keep changing how we access God. The way to the God is just the same as always, Jesus, accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour, being sorry for our wrongdoing and trying to change. No passwords needed, God is always there, ready and willing for us to access Him, every minute of every hour of every day.

5th October 2023

Matthew 18:1 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

How are you on forgiveness? Most of us struggle with forgiving others, even when it isn’t necessarily their fault. Peter asks Jesus, how many times he must forgive? He grew up with rabbi’s who taught that if a man commits an offence, he should be forgiven up to 3 times on the 4th he is punished. Jesus is much more radical and says indefinitely, there is no limit to forgiveness. To illustrate this Jesus tells a story, a man who owed the king 10,000 talents. A ridiculous amount, a bit like being a millionaire. By contrast, the unforgiving servant was only owed100 denarii, about a month’s wages. Jesus was making the point that nothing other people can do to us can in any way compare with what we have done to God and if God can forgive us the debt we owe him, then we can surely forgive others the relatively small debt they owe us.

4th October 2023

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

I was completely thrown by a recent advert using the term GOAT, I could not understand what a goat had to do with a shower gel or aftershave. My son then explained it stood for Greatest Of All Time: GOAT. Claiming someone or something is the greatest of all time is a bold claim and not really substantiated. In the Gospels Jesus had to deal with this very question, who is the greatest? His reply was to take a child and tell us to be as children. Why? Because children see things simply, without fuss and bother. They have a wonder about the world, an awe, which for us in later life, has become tired and lost. True greatness, according to Jesus, comes from childlike humility, childlike acceptance and belief, a simpleness in faith that does not get bogged down in the ifs and buts. Children are special, wonderful, a God given gift and should be treasured and cared for as such. From them we learn honesty, simpleness, awe, wonder and unconditional love. This is a good way to live our lives as Christians not being the greatest but rather the best we can be in God’s love.

3rd October 2023

Psalm 4:8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.

I have recently come across a report that has found that over a million children in the UK are sleeping on the floor or sharing a bed. They are calling it bed poverty. The cost-of-living crisis means replacing broken beds or old mattresses has become a luxury many cannot afford. There is also a huge problem with washing bed linen, particularly in the winter where fuel poverty means lacking of washing facilities and no where to dry them properly. Families talked of using one room for all to sleep in to try and keep each other warm with a family of 4 or more sharing one double bed for months in the coldest times. This is so shocking, so appalling that in this country the government does nothing to relieve this poverty and portrays such people as scroungers rather than help them while pocketing huge expenses and salaries and having all their heating paid for by the tax payer. God desires all of us to lay down and sleep in safety, we as a society, are allowing children to suffer because of our selfishness. We need to hold to account politicians, wealthy people and those who have so much to insist they start paying back to the society which has provided so well for them.

2nd October 2023

Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

What are your prayers like? People often say they don’t know how to pray, and I tell them it is just like having a chat to a friend, in this case God. What I do notice about my own and other prayers is they can be very selfish. We tend to pray about ourselves, our needs, our feelings and ideas whereas our prayers should be for and about others. As with much of our faith our attitude is an issue. The key to it all is forgiveness. We are freely forgiven by God but we are not so keen to forgive others. We are good at holding grudges, wanting to see others suffer for what we perceive they have done. There are always consequences to actions and forgiveness does not nullify these. Only when we are willing to forgive can we truly be forgiven and can we truly pray for others rather than ourselves. Forgiveness is not easy, it can take a long time but all that is required of us is that we try, in God’s strength, allowing Him to deal with the details.

1st October 2023

James 1:25 But the one who looks intently at the perfect law of God, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this person will be blessed in what they do.

When I am away or out for the day, I do love a gift shop. I have always loved to buy a notebook, postcard, pen, pencil a picture for the wall etc. Often, I come home with the intention of using them, putting them up, but the business of life means I find them weeks, months later still unused or not put up on the wall or the shelf. We have every intention of using things or doing something but so often life gets in the way. The same goes for our faith, for our good intentions and the changes we say we need to make, we have every intention when we leave church, read a book, finish Bible Study or Quiet time, but then life happens, washing still needs to be done, lunches packed, food cooked, shopping done, cleaning, paperwork, the daily job and suddenly things are forgotten. Thankfully God does not forget us, does not forget to bless us, care for us, strengthen us and be with us. In His strength we need to try a little more not to forget those things we said we would do and the changes we said we would make.

30th September 2023

Galatians 5:14 For the whole Law is summed up in one commandment: “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.”

When I was younger my Nan would always say to me after a meal have you had enough? She was concerned that I did not go hungry. If we asked that question of people round the world today what would be the reply? The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has reported that about 1 in 5 ( 20%) of people in the UK live in poverty. They said that over the last 25 years, children have had the highest poverty rates. Child poverty is now the highest since last century Life events, like illness or redundancy, can cause poverty. But it is mostly caused by structural and systemic issues, and exacerbated by increasing living costs, creating a cycle that keeps people trapped in hardship. There is enough food grown in the world to feed everyone comfortably, everyone could have enough and more but half of it is lost in waste. Much of it is held to achieve higher prices, much is thrown away after lengthy storage to drive up prices. The result is over a billion people have little access to any food and so go hungry. This verse is a simple challenge about our behaviour, about loving neighbour as self, about making sure not only do we have enough but so do others. It is why we collect for food banks, for Harvest, why we donate to charities, why we try to help others so life for everyone can be fair and good, so everyone can have enough.

29th September 2023

Matthew 18:14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

It is so easy to take things out of context, to misinterpret and fit things into our view. So, if we put things into context…Remember the parable of the lost sheep. Where the Shepherd or God does everything to find the lost one. And then “If my brother sins against me, how many times should I forgive him?” Jesus says 70 x 7 in other words never stop forgiving. Or the story about how a King lets off one of his servants who owes an enormous debt but that servant goes on to treat those below him badly and not forgive them. So, in this context Jesus says if someone sins against you, go and sort it out when the two of you are alone. No finger wagging and telling people off, but restore relationships, sort things out. Sadly, often when someone has upset us, we go and tell EVERYONE else about it. Do you know what he did? Do you know what she said? I’ll tell you….. but in confidence of course. We talk to the entire community, bar the one person, The one person we need talk to. It is all just made worse. Jesus’ language, Jesus’ context is all about reconciliation. So should ours.

28th September 2023

1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they appear as folly to him, and he is not able to understand them for they are spiritually discerned.

I do enjoy a programme on TV called Secrets of the London Underground. The programme goes to old stations, hidden platforms, hidden store rooms and places where things are restored or kept. There are treasures that so many of us are not party to and will never see, like the first attempt at an escalator which was circular, some of the most ornate gateways, beautiful old signage, incredible short platforms and ornate carriages. Some of these we would never see if not for this programme. There are so many people in our world today for whom things are hidden, people who never get to hear about Jesus, people who never get to see the treasures of knowing God for themselves. People who never see the ornate history and tradition of the church. Perhaps we need a TV programme about the secrets of the Christian Gospel where the hidden treasures are shown, the experiences offered allowing the history to immerse everyone in God’s love, not just the few. 

27th September 2023

Psalms 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed are those who trust Him.

We have been given senses that allow us to fully connect with the world around us, to connect with God through everything. Those senses were given by God and in the Bible we see God using those senses, the seeing and hearing His people, the smell of offerings, the touch of healing. We also have the ability to rest, to take a nap and God gave us that ability, a way of refreshing ourselves and just being able to slow down and reset. We also have the ability to make music, the joy and health benefits this brings, as well as reading or writing poetry, reading favourite stories or about how others have found peace and wonder from the world. For the scientists among us we can find God in the rocks, the earth, macro and micro biology, astronomy, chemical elements. From conception our bodies make physical connections, our brains make connections, synapses fire up and we learn and become amazing beings who have the ability to be creative, to celebrate life and each other, to contemplate, learn and discover, to make ethical arguments and create a better, fairer world for everyone. It is through all these and more that we are able to find God and His creation, bless each other and be better people because of it. 

26th September 2023

Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

Do you ever feel that you have never been away? Everything just slots back into place. Whenever we return to school in September it is as if we have not had the summer break. Everything just slots into place and we begin the patterns and timetables of the year all over again. Yearly patterns are helpful to us, certain things that we know happen at various times of the year. We work towards and through these using them as a hook to hang our lives on and to guide us going forward as well as reminding us of the past. Right now, we are celebrating Harvest, soon we will move into a season of remembrance then Advent and into Christmas. We have certain services and traditions which allow us to both learn from the past but also move forward. The very seasons of the year also allow us to do this, seasons given right at the beginning of time by Creator God to enable us to structure our lives. God gave times and seasons for everything under Heaven that we would learn, grow and move forward together.

25th September 2023

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

We do, as humans, like to tell others they are wrong and we are right. That often means those people who misbehave in our community, we think we can tell them off. Churches down the centuries have often chosen to do lots of finger wagging, lots of telling people off, lots of telling people who don’t fit in to our church to go away. Sadly, there are so many stories of people publicly shamed in front of the church, forced to live ostracised in their own homes, because families aren’t allowed to socialise with such sinners. In my own family history, someone was barred from their church because they challenged the behaviour of the pastor. The problem is that far too often we read the bible with a pair of scissors or the loose-leaf edition. We keep the bits we want to keep and throw the rest away. We read things out of context. In context Jesus’ teaching is always about reconciliation, building bridges and not putting up walls. Before God we always need to seek the best outcome and not stroke our own egos because we rightly handle the word of truth.

24th September 2023

Ephesians 4:1 We live and act in a way that is worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these.

Just recently I read about Frederick Banting who along with others, gave insulin to the world in 1921. He was offered a life time of riches to sell the patent for its production to pharmaceutical companies who saw how profitable it would be, but his view was that this discovery belonged to the world and should be available to everyone who needs it. The consequence of this action was millions of people able to live normally and not die unnecessarily. For him lives came before profit. There are other examples of this philanthropy but they are few and far between. The human desire to look after self, first, often pushes us to make decisions for ourselves rather than others. If only we could all offer what we have for others to benefit from, if we could all look to others before ourselves, our world be much more like the world God created and intended for us. Change begins with us, one step at a time and it will make a difference.

23rd September 2023

1 Corinthians 12:12a There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body.

Many of us like things to be straight forward, or to be able to root our knowledge and understanding in things we like and value. To connect with God is not like straight forward maths, it’s like algebra or trigonometry not in its complexity but rather in its’ creativity. There are so many creative ways to connect with God and not surprisingly these ways also help our mental health and well being. We’re different not just in our physical appearance and spiritual giftedness but also in the way we connect with each other and with God. We are, as St Paul tells us, One body, many parts. We all have different things to offer but we all need each other to work for the best in our world. Going outdoors is a wonderful way to connect with creation, with nature and so with the creator. Putting our phones away and going for a walk, reading or studying outside, watching the sun rise or sun set. When did you last lay down on the grass and look up at the sky, the clouds and just wonder. If you like yoga or meditation, doing this outside adds a new contemplation aspect. Just sitting outside and thinking or just being can be a revelation for us. God gave us these things we should be tapping into them and allowing ourselves to be blessed.

22nd September 2023

Mark 9:25 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Sometimes we just can’t seem to do anything right, we try but it just doesn’t seem to work. Jesus disciples had been sent out to help and heal but they could not seem to heal a young boy. His father is desperate, he knows what Jesus can do but the disciples have confused him. He is now firmly sandwiched between believing in what God can do and not experiencing this happening for him. I think many of us are in this position, we believe, we have faith, but we are also confused by what we see in the church, the abuses of power by leaders, the lack of compassion and love and the blame for decline put upon ordinary people who just want to love their church and serve it. We believe and yet we struggle with our belief. Once we recognise this, that we need God’s help to live out our faith, that in our human strength we simply cannot believe enough, we call out to God and in doing so open ourselves to His strength and support. We must never be put off from crying out to God to help our unbelief. 

21st September 2023

Acts 2:44 And all those who had believed were coming together and had all things in common.

Jesus understood that living life is not something to be done alone. We all need support and help. God initially created families and stated it was not good for humans to be alone. Being a Christian is often too difficult to do alone, especially when the storms hit. We need each other. We need our fellow believers. Jesus knew this which is why he spent so much of His ministry building community, it is why he founded the church. The church may not be perfect. No congregation is. Jesus began the church, to share the gospel, to bring healing and hope, peace and justice, love and support to each other. That is a theology that offers us a sure foundation. One that we can build a life of hope and meaning upon. One that can survive the storms and trials that this life inevitably throws at us.

20th September 2023

Ephesians 4:16 We speak the truth, we deal in the truth, we live in truth, each one in their own special way always helping others.

What is your view on honesty? We were taught Honesty is the best policy and honesty is something to be valued in all people, it grows trust, it brings safety and protection. We are responsible for how we behave, and if we chose the path of dishonesty then there will be consequences. Everything we do and say has consequences whether they be good or bad. We reward the good consequences of hard work and study, of music, sport, drama. There are also the bad consequences, unnecessary deaths and injuries because of carelessness, anger, misdirected ideas. On a recent emergency call I heard about they took a man to hospital who had been stabbed by his own brother. Drink and drugs, tempers flared and one brother stabbed the other. The consequence is one fighting for his life in hospital and the other looking at a prison sentence. Both lives and those of their families and friends are hugely impacted because of the consequences of this behaviour. The way to good consequences is to weigh up our actions, our words. To be people of honesty and integrity. To act worthily, to always deal in the truth. This is the teaching of Jesus and of the church. We all need to be people of honesty, people who strive for good consequences and people who recognise when we have got it wrong and strive to put it right. We need to be people who accept the consequences of our actions, always trying to make them good consequences.

19th September 2023

Romans 18:12 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

I am a real fan of unions, from the perspective of defending the little people, making sure people are kept safe at work, not maltreated and paid fairly. Sometimes arbitration or mediation is needed, sometimes people need representation so they are not misunderstood and not overpowered or bullied by those above them. None of us in any situation should think we are there because we are perfect or we know all the answers. We may be called to help but we are flawed too. We may need to change our view, to move the prism so that we see differently, we may to change our perspective, to compromise, BUT The purpose must always be forgiveness and reconciliation, fairness and care, honesty and integrity. Jesus is all about building bridges and not walls. As St Paul says Loving neighbour as self, living honourably, not quarrelling or being jealous but putting on Christ, becoming more like Him. In our Christlikeness we grow in forgiveness, in love, in compassion, in peace and in bridge building. It is not easy but all God expects of us is to try our best, in God’s strength. As we forgive, we are forgiven.

18th September 2023

Matthew 21:20 And when the disciples saw it, they wondered, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”

How good are you at keeping focus? Over the years in school, I have met students who can focus really well for ages, but also those whose focus has gone before the lesson really starts and everywhere in between. We do understand these days that processing issues can determine someone’s ability to focus and we are offering ways to help students with this. If you look at the disciples, they also sometimes have difficulty keeping focus. Like a child on Christmas morning, they easily got distracted by things around them, by unusual events and happenings and by their understanding of Jewish law. They became fixated on something instead of on Jesus and His teaching and calling of them. Jesus has to remind them to keep focused on their faith and belief. It is very easy for us to be distracted, fixated on the wrong things and to lose sight of Jesus teaching and calling of us. Focus on God, on Jesus is about being the best, whole person we can be. Listening, watching, praying, loving, caring; being people focused on Christ, and on being Christlike. 

17th September 2023

Ephesians 4:2 Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults.

This weekend is the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year. In the next 10 days people are expected to reflect on their actions and words, those they have hurt or caused pain, to seek forgiveness and to change. It is a wake-up call for them and ends with Yom Kippur, a day of atonement, recognising the consequences of actions and words and trying to make them right. If you prefer a more scientific approach to this idea, Newton’s third law tells us that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, there is an action and a consequence. Whatever we do or say will have a consequence, a reaction to what we do. We may not intend to hurt or offend; we may not intend to cause distress but if and when we do we must recognise it and do something about it. We need to act in a worthy way, be people of peace, patience and humility and ultimately be people of truth and so admit out mistakes, seek forgiveness and change.

16th September 2023

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Making connections is a term used across society, there are several groups who use this term for the work they do in business, in social care, in transport links, in social circles. It is about connecting with those of a like mind, those who have a similar vision or strategy to get things done. We all make connections every day with people we talk to, work alongside, family members, friends and so on. Connections also need to be made with belief, with faith. Connecting with God means having a two-way communication with Him through prayer, reading the Bible, listening to His voice, and acting accordingly. There are different ways to connect with God, such as looking for Him in nature, when we really begin to look at the world, space, stars, we begin to see this is not all accidental. We also connect through other people, circumstances, dreams, visions, silence, and contemplation. Another proactive way to connect with God is by giving and serving others, which makes us valued and happy and reflects God's love for the world through our caring actions.

15th September 2023

Matthew 13:23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

As different as the four soils are in the Parable of the Sower, they all hold two things in common. Seeds and the Sower. The Sower sows the same seeds in all four soils with equal toil, equal hope, and equal generosity. The Sower does so without evaluation of the soil’s quality or potential. There is no soil left unsown. No ground is declared undeserving of the Sower’s attention and seeds. This is not about the quality of dirt. It’s about the quality of God, the divine Sower. We want to ponder what kind of dirt we are. God simply wants to sow his seeds of life in us. No life, no person, no soil is left unsown by God. God does not give up on us, any of us. Seeds here. Seeds there. Seeds everywhere. That seems like poor planning. Surely with today’s economy that’s just wasteful. By today’s farming practices it is inefficient. With the cost of seeds and the time spent sowing it may not even be profitable. These are not, however, the Sower’s concerns. They are human concerns. God is quite simply concerned that every person, every heart, every life gets the opportunity to find their creator and have a relationship with Him. God doesn’t count anyone out or anyone as undeserving and neither must we.  

14th September 2023

Matthew 18:15 If your brother or sister sins, go and point out the problem, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.

How do we handle Conflict and Disagreement? As humans we are not very good at dealing with these things. “He’s not my friend any more” “She said this” “He did that” It happens all through school, and we keep doing it even as adults. Stories about how people handle things badly are treated as funny and appear all over social media and YouTube. Stories about people handling relationships well are rarely heard about, conflict is corrosive. Conflict causes damage. Some damage cannot be repaired. We have bible teaching about conflict in the church So what does Our Lord say, don’t go and talk to everyone else. Just go privately and talk to that one person. After all it may be a misunderstanding. Or they may have perfectly good reasons for what they did, which if you heard would make perfect sense. Or they may have not understood how much it would hurt you. They may just say sorry. In that reconciliation we and they are helped and relationships are restored.

13th September 2023

Romans 11:1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!

Let’s be clear, none of us deserve God’s love but He freely gives it anyway. None of us has the right to tell another they are not deserving of God’s love, to turn them away, to judge them. There are those who weaponise the Bible, take things out of context, sideline anything they don’t like in order to exclude, to justify slavery, the disrespect and suppression of women, to suppress human rights, to exclude the disabled and the different. God’s purpose does not change! God’s love and forgiveness is for all, it is not dependent on what we eat, or what we wear, or what we do, where we live, our status, culture, skin colour. It is dependent on Jesus, Jesus’ death and resurrection only. God does not reject anyone, therefore neither should we.

12th September 2023

1 Peter 2:18 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, love God, honour those in authority.

I wonder if your family or friends ever remind you to take responsibility for what you do or say? The word responsibility means having an obligation to do something, be answerable for one's actions, morally accountable for one's behaviour and so able to be blamed or credited for it. We all like to take the credit not so much the blame. You only have to look at the news to see the daily blame game, the unwillingness of politicians to take responsibility when things go wrong but loving to take the credit when they go well. If we do or say something that causes others to be hurt, to fall, to be ridiculed, and lose out then we must take responsibility for that. If we are wrong, we need to be willing to admit it. We are reminded time and again in the Bible that we need to respect authority, that we need to respect each other and that we are responsible for our actions. Actions have consequences. If we chose to disrespect and not take responsibility, then we have to accept the consequences. We have a choice. We have a choice whether to admit our mistakes and learn from them, we have a choice whether to do the right thing when no one else is looking, we have the choice to stand up to wrong doing, bullying, bad behaviour, lies and deceit. We have the choice to take responsibility for our actions and words or not. Taking responsibility builds trust. We have a responsibility to others and to ourselves. 

11th September 2023

Romans 12:4&5 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

We have recently witnessed an amazing national team success in the Women’s World Cup. This was very much about team work, everyone working together for the best result. In any team sport, everyone has different roles. In football, not everyone can be the striker, you also need defenders, mid fielders, a goalie. In cricket, not everyone can be a top batter, you also need fielders, different types of bowlers. In netball, not everyone can be the goal shooter, you also need mid field players and goal keepers. No one can do everything, so team members have to rely on their teammates and help each other. Similarly, in the church we are called to think not only of ourselves, what we do, our position, but more importantly to remember other people. To be generous with our gifts and talents because no one can do everything, we are urged to use what God has given us to benefit those around us. Alongside this, we are told to accept help from those who are gifted in ways we are not. A generous church has members who freely give help to others and are also humble enough to freely receive help too. 

10th September 2023

Deuteronomy 1:31a In the wilderness you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a parent carries their child.

Knowing who Jesus is, what we believe about God demands an answer in our homes and families, in work, in a hospital, at a funeral. Not just on Sunday morning, but during those nights when we struggle to sleep and when we worry. Knowing who Jesus is, what we believe about God demands an answer not just when life is going well. But when life is falling apart. That’s when our faith is tested. And when the answer is not just words. But when it is life. When the rubber hits the road, so to speak, that’s when what we really believe comes to the fore, that’s when people see the real us and our real faith. It is easy to be a Christian when life is good, when we are successful, and so easy for us to take the credit. It is far harder to be a Christian when trials face us, when we are struggling; yet that is when God is at His closest, when God can and will pick us up and carry us if we need it. In all conditions we have God’s strength to carry us through.

9th September 2023

Jeremiah 17: 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

The metaphor of a tree is quite common in the Bible. As signs of life, strength and longevity they are good examples for us. The key is roots, deep and strong along with water and soil. Trees by sources of water flourish. They grow, bear fruit even in times of drought. Our lives have times of drought, tough times and they have good times. It is easy to live our faith in the good times, but it is in the tough times that our roots, our soil and water pay off. These are our relationship with God, the Bible, prayer and our community of friends and supporters. We need to grow deep roots, know God’s presence, know how to respond in tough times and know we are secured and supported by our Christian family. The old phrase for this is living a God centred life, if we put God in the centre then all that projects out from that will be Godly, will be loving, caring, strong, supportive in the knowledge we are never alone. As long as our roots are deep, we will flourish and if we eve need help and support not only is God there but our Christian family. Never be worried about asking for help, support and prayer.

8th September 2023

Matthew 10:24 A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master.

Our experience of slavery is either from history or the stories of modern slavery that sometimes come out in the press. We don’t think in terms of slaves and masters today, but we do experience teaching as students and during our lives. The relationship is not an equal one. One will always have a superior role. The disciples, the early missionaries, were Jesus’ students just as we, His 21st-century disciples, are also His students, and just as He faced opposition, aggression, condemnation and hatred we should prepare ourselves to face the same. We do not deserve anything better than Jesus did, in fact we deserve a lot less, but the world, sin and the devil would make us slaves, want to entrap us and stop us having the freedom God wants for us in Christ. Jesus goes on to context this idea within equality, that we are equal in status, in experience and in value to God, none better than another.

7th September 2023

Matthew 14:24 The boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Unusually, on our recent trip to the Mediterranean, we spent quite a few days being battered by wind and waves. After the recent very, very, hot weather it then led to high winds and storms across the area and we were battered somewhat. We were unable to call into one port as the weather was so bad, and it managed to break a lift cable on the ship. Now, I am not a fan of bad weather at sea and have to lay either on the floor or in bed. Pills are little help. I cannot imagine anyone being out on the water in a storm, let alone walking on it. Yet Jesus comes to them in the storm. In their fear and battered state, He comes, He even invites peter to come to Him, Peter is fine until He takes His eyes off Jesus, then he begins to sink and fear sets in. He calls out and Jesus’ hand is right there. When ever life batters us we are not alone, Jesus is right there with us, in the middle of the storm, holding out His hand to us. All we need to do is reach out, look to Jesus and know we are held.

6th September 2023

Luke 9:20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”

What we believe about God matters, more than anything else in life. That’s why Jesus initiated the conversation with His disciples. Jesus knew that what they thought of Him would affect how they would live their lives going forward, when He was back in Heaven. Their theology; their understanding of God; mattered. Jesus had a theological conversation with them. A first easy question, “Who do people say that I am?” All they need to say is what they hear, rather than what they believe, John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, a prophet. But then the harder question, “Who do you say that I am?” We know the answer to this question. We’ve been to Sunday School. We know this stuff. We’ve heard it before. But Jesus is looking for more than the pat Sunday School answer. Jesus wants us to answer this question with our head. heart, soul and life. Who do we say that Jesus is? If Jesus himself were to ask us that question, how would we answer it? And doe our life reflects that answer? What do we really believe about God, about Jesus? The answer will set the course of our life. It matters! 

5th September 2023

Romans 12:5 In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

This time of year in school is always a period of welcome, new year 7 and 12, new staff, and welcoming back everyone else. The word welcome means we are pleased and encouraged to have people with us, along side us. We are all part of a community and communities look after each other, help one another, work together and support each other. In school we spend this first term looking at what it means to be part of this community through a series of characteristics we worked with everyone in school to identify. In Romans Paul is very clear that we are all part of one body or community, but we all have different gifts, strengths and thus different parts to play. We honour one another, belong to one another and respect individuality and difference, growing together. Each of us has a part to play in our community, in our family, and God has given us these different gifts to enable everyone to flourish, together. As we journey together may we support each other, encourage each other, help one another and look after each other as God intended.

4th September 2023

Matthew 12:7 If you know what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not condemn the innocent.

The idea of a strict sabbath day of rest is an old one. In my youth shops were not open on a Sunday, apart from Paper shops for a few hours. The idea of a day of rest has always been a great idea but of course not everyone can rest on the same day. How could nurses and doctors, power and water workers, transport drivers, public services just shut down for a day. They cannot. The point is that the sabbath for some became a rule so important to some that others were allowed to suffer, go hungry, even die to keep a rule. It is too easy to become so wrapped up in rules that we forget real life. People don’t just get ill on 6 days, people don’t just need food on 6 days, people need care, love, compassion, food, water, medical help 7days a week 24 hours a day. But people also need rest. In the past only the wealthy got time off, workers had no time off apart from the odd religious holiday and then only for a couple of hours to go to church. People did not live long, worked to the bone. God made us to be productive but also to have rest. God himself rested and created us to do the same. It does not matter on which day we rest, as long as we do. Taking time for ourselves is vital, it can be any day, any time but things will still happen, we will need to help and care for others even then, just as Jesus did. We are not called to sacrifice everything in pursuit of rules and laws, only to be merciful, caring, just and loving people. Take rest when you need it because to be the most effective, we need to rest and recharge ourselves regularly.

3rd September 2023

Hebrews 12:7 Children need correction; God treats us as his children. For what children are not taught and corrected by their parents?

How do we see God? Do we believe that God is like a divine scorekeeper, keeping track of all our good and bad deeds and so live our lives rather fearfully, just hoping that we come out okay at the end. Or do we believe that God is all-accepting and welcoming, but rather distant and waiting patiently in Heaven for us to get there, and so not really worry about our good deeds and our sins. What we believe about God affects how we pray. If we believe that God is distant, and simply watching events unfold in our world with little participation or influence, then we won’t spend time asking God to change the circumstances in which we find ourselves. If we think of God as a stern judge, we might avoid prayer, because we won’t dare to ask God for help. Then again, if we think of God as a loving parent, we will turn to God when we need help or advice. If we think of God as a friend, we will spend time in conversation with God just talking about our day. We need to have a positive view of God and allow Him to be a friend, a loving parent who cares about us, this view will enable us to grow and change as Christians and be sure in our faith as we grow.

2nd September 2023

Matthew 15:27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Sometimes even those who are confident or seem clear in their task can seem unsure about what they are here for, who should they help? Jesus sometimes seems to ask Himself is He just here to help the Jews or all God’s people? He is reminded, challenged, by a woman who will not accept that God values her and her people less than others. She may be despised by other humans, but not GOD. This is a huge reminder to all of us that all God’s created children, whoever they are, are included in God’s plan. Even the lowest of low, who gather up the crumbs under the table are still offered God’s love, are still just as deserving as those who sit at the top table, perhaps even more so. God is merciful to all, all people, no matter who they are, where they come from, what their pedigree is in world terms. God’s love, God’s mercy and forgiveness is for everyone.

1st September 2023

Titus 2:7 &8a In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your example show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.

What do people think about us when they meet us, see us, work with us, socialise with us? Do they see confident, happy people or do they see insecure, unhappy people, do they see who we really are? You would hope that if people socialise with us, they like our company so hopefully they like us. What we believe about God and our personal faith in Jesus means that when people look at us and how we live, what we say and do, they should know we are Christians, God’s people. Any dishonesty, lies, cruelty, anger and lack of compassion will be judged as not of God, and rightly so. We can be subject to that phrase I’ve heard many times “Call yourself a Christian!” It is very hard for us to live up to expectation, sometimes even impossible, but our lives must reflect what we believe, we need to be people who are genuine because that is how we challenge others and bring them to know God for themselves. Thankfully God works with us, strengthening us, helping us to be the people we should be in Him. God also forgives, allows us to start again, wipes the slate clean. We simply need to be honest, genuine, and be exactly who we are in Jesus.

31st August 2023

Matthew 13:28b The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go quickly and pull up the weeds?’

The overzealous "weeders" in Matthew, who wanted to purify the community by rooting out the bad seed, has been a temptation for followers of Jesus in every age. We whip ourselves into a weeding frenzy, certain that we know the difference between weeds and wheat, good and bad people, and that we know just how to deal with the weeds, the bad ones! We actually do not know and it is not our job! Jesus' makes it clear that any attempt to root out the weeds will only do more damage to the crop. This has played out far too many times in congregations and churches, with some determined to root out anyone who does not agree with their "right" interpretation of Scripture, their liturgical practice, or their stand on a particular issue. There are those who pronounce judgment on people inside and outside the church and it does serious damage to the church and its mission. Jesus makes clear that we simply cannot be certain who is "in" or who is "out." In fact, God's judgment about these matters will take many by surprise, it is up to God, not us. Only I know my real standing with God and only you know yours. Thank God it is not up to us! We can leave the judging to God, the weeding to the angels, and get on with the mission Jesus has given us, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.

30th August 2023

Matthew 16:15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

The disciples are asked by Jesus: “Who do you say that I am?” This is a basic question that I believe all followers of Jesus must answer, and not just once when we become Christians, but at all times in our life. Who do we say that Jesus is? And based on that, who do people say we are? Our understanding of God, our theology, can and must change over our lifetime, as we grow in our faith. How we answer this question directly affects how we live out our faith, our life. What we believe about God, how we see Jesus, affects how we face trials in our life. What we believe about God affects how we navigate our way through illness, pain, hurt, disappointment, success, failed relationships, job loss, grief. What we believe about God affects how we approach every aspect of our life. Our Theology, understanding, does not have to be complicated, but it does need to be sure. Our Bible, our prayer, our church community will all help to build and strengthen this understanding as we grow together.

29th August 2023

Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

When in training Priests often undergo a personality type test. The one I did identifies you as either an introvert or extrovert. As someone who had always been identified as outgoing, gregarious, I was surprised to be identified as introvert. In this case it means where we get our energy from, where we get our energy from, what refreshes and helps us. For me it is quiet places, being alone, not in crowds of people. I still struggle to speak to groups of people, I still get embarrassed and wonder why anyone would listen to me, but I draw my strength from the quiet empty church at 7am, the empty school at 7am, no one else about, having peace to be with my thoughts, my God, hearing what I would not hear in the hustle and bustle when everyone else is there. I am struggling more and more with large crowds as I get older but I cope in God’s strength. I love the quiet places, my garden, the church where I can be just me. We are all different and that is a blessing God has given. We must never judge another for being energised and blessed in whatever works for them. However you thrive and are blessed, have a great day and find time to be in those blessed places be they loud and busy, quiet and calm or anywhere in between.

28th August 2023

Mark 4:37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.

We have all been there. We have all been caught in one of life’s storms, being battered by circumstances beyond our control, far from the safety of land, with the wind and seemingly everything else against us. We all get our turn in this particular boat, usually when we least expect it. None of us gets through this life completely un-battered and unscathed. BUT whenever we are caught in one of life’s storms, we can trust that we are not alone. Jesus is with us. We are never alone in that boat. God’s Son, our Lord and Saviour, is always with us. That is His promise. He may not immediately calm every storm, even though we want Him too. But in our storms of life, whatever they are, He is with us in the midst of every single one of them. He is with us in the storm; he is with us on the boat. When in our life we feel battered by the waves, and far from the safety of land, with the wind blowing strongly against us, that is when we can be assured that Jesus is with us.

27th August 2023

Matthew 15:9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.

We often use the phrase the best laid plans… sometime things just don’t turn out as we expected or wanted. In societies and laws, the best laid plans can easily become lost, somehow the priorities can become skewed. Sadly, we are in the realms of being in a certain club, following certain rules where some people are considered worthless, outside, excluded. This is a place we have been in the church and in society so many times over the centuries. Blame the Jew, the traveller, the immigrant, the women, the black skinned, the alien, if they are not in our club then they are worthless. How disrespectful is that to God? God has not created anything that is worthless. We have no right to judge, to decide. It is us, our selfish human nature, our often-skewed ideas that have forced exclusion. God’s purpose of inclusion for all has never changed, it will never change.

26th August 2023

Matthew 13:13 This is why I use stories and parables to teach the people: They see, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really hear or understand.

We often wonder what the purpose of something is and we all need help to learn and understand. The Disciples wondered about why Jesus used parables and that was about understanding. Education is all about learning the skills to enable further learning, discovery and teamwork. Not only do we need to learn but we need to understand. To profit from education, from life, we need to listen, look and understand. The human condition means we think we know best and that we don’t need to listen to others, or to look deeper and understand another point of view. It is so easy to become self-absorbed, to lose sight of reality and what is truly beneficial to us and others and what is not. It is too easy and has become too easy to lose sight of God, of His incredible creation, to put ourselves above God, above learning and above understanding. We are never too old to see, hear and learn new things but we are often too stubborn. There will never be a time when we know it all so we must take the opportunities of life as they come and as they are given by God. Don’t lose sight of your faith, of God, remember there are lessons everywhere and we should always be ready to listen, to learn and to understand through the opportunities and experiences God offers us every day.

25th August 2023

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I am fully known.

Within society we are used to earning things, our exams, our pocket money, our salary, our reputation and so on. As Christians we rightly change our lives to try and live as good people, to try and earn our position with God, but nothing we do or say earns us a place in Heaven, none of the rules on food, clothes, worship styles, make the difference. We need to remember that we are human, we only see partially, imperfectly, through a mirror, dimly. God sees it all, God is not either/or. God is fully inclusive. God’s love is for everyone and only God’s love in Jesus makes the difference. Only Jesus, His death and resurrection, can earn us a place in Heaven. Jesus died for everyone, no matter their colour, culture, status, gender, place of origin. All of us are fallen, all of us are sinners, all of us get it wrong and all of us are still loved by God, are saved by Jesus’ death and resurrection. May we never stop anyone from finding what we have found because of our prejudice or the traditions and ideas we may hold.

24th August 2023

Matthew 14:30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

I have often heard it said that there are no atheists on a crashing plane. When life is in the balance most people will cry out, look for someone to believe in, to help. Prayer is often where we and many others cry out when life hits hard. Recently I was blessed to visit the Colosseum. We queued for an hour and a half but it was so worth it. Fascinating, inspiring, challenging. Seeing the places where gladiators prepared, cells where sacrificed people, often Christians were held, seeing the maze of tunnels underneath where the hunters held an advantage. Over the centuries it has been declared a place of martyrdom and pilgrimage, consecrated as a place of worship and in 2000 Pope John Paul II had a cross erected there to commemorate those martyred and to encourage people to pray, a focal point of prayer, in this place where lives were battered, where people were martyred. When we are in the Colosseum battles of life against the gladiators of pain, hurt, insult, lies, the cross is right there. The place of focus, the place of prayer, we can call out to Jesus at any time, any place and know He is right there, we are never alone with God.

23rd August 2023

Acts 10:15 Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.

Within religions and beliefs, the food we eat and the way it is prepared can be important. We all know that many religions promote vegetarianism, some allow some foods and not others. Some have strict rules on when and how we eat. All there for reasons of tradition, teaching and instruction. The problem comes when the observance of these rules becomes more important than the reason for doing it. Rituals need to have a moral and ethical reason. We need to do things for the right reasons, know why we do it. Remember the story of Peter having the vision of the sheet with animals on it, some of which were forbidden for Peter to eat by his religion and yet God tells him to kill and eat. God reminds Peter that nothing God gives for us to eat is to be turned away as unholy. It all comes from God and as such is acceptable. The same applies to people, everyone is one of God’s children and no one is outside of God’s love. No one God has created, is any the less worthy than another.

22nd August 2023

Matthew 15:11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.

I was brought up, as I expect most of us were, to wash our hands before cooking and eating, to stop the transference of bacteria onto food. Even on a picnic my mum would have wet flannels in a plastic bag, the forerunner of the wet wipe. We understand that bacteria can cause illness so we take sensible precautions. Actually, a bit of dirt in the gut is good for us, developing our immune system. I was partial to a bit of earth and coal as a toddler apparently. Jesus is quite blunt here, what we eat passes through us and goes down the toilet into the sewer. What we digest will be cleared from the system so why make such a fuss. Far more important is what we say and do, things which affect those around us, hurt them, mislead them, judge them. There is nothing wrong with rules as long as we know why we have them and they do not become more important than God and His love for us.

21st August 2023

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Every time we come back from holiday; I promise myself we will take less next time. We come back with clean unused clothes and I really struggle with the amount of luggage on the trolley as we try to find our car. We tend to pack for every eventuality and a lot more besides, just in case. Having too much can become a real burden, things and possessions can become more important than life and people. It becomes about what we have rather than who we are. Jesus reminds His disciples to travel light, to allow others to help with the practical things of life and He reminds us all that when there is too much baggage weighing us down, we need to cast our burden onto Him, allow Him to help carry the load. As we look to Him and others to help us may we also be a help to those around us as they seek to travel light.

20th August 2023

Matthew 13:8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop, a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

We probably don’t know a lot about farming but if we heard of a farmer going out and sowing his seeds on a public pathway, on rocky ground, and amongst the thorns, we would see that as simply wasteful, inefficient, and ineffective. Its bad farming. You can’t plant seeds among the rocks and thorns or on a path and then act surprised or complain that nothing grows. Jesus’ representation of farming simply does not fit in our mechanised, focused, maximum profit world. The parables Jesus uses offer us a different perspective, a new worldview. They give us a glimpse into God’s world and what God is like. They reach into our ears and our eyes so that we might hear and understand, see and perceive. They are pearls of grace that test our heart’s willingness to surrender to and be enveloped in the amazing, unending, generosity of God. This surprising generosity of God is exactly what the parable of the Sower reveals to us. Thankfully this parable is about God’s faithfulness and not about farming, soil quality, or how things work in this broken world. In the Sower’s world, God’s world, what we may see as wastefulness gives way to hope, inefficiency gives way to love, and profitability gives way to generosity. Every part of our life has been sown with the seeds of God’s love, God’s life, and you know what happens to seeds: Apple seeds become apples. Peach seeds become peaches. God seeds become…. God's people and they bear fruit.

19th August 2023

Matthew 14:23a After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.

I wonder what you think about prayer, it may not be something you even think about, and yet when in need people will often turn to prayer, asking God for help, crying out because there is no one else. I believe that prayer is important, vital, life changing. It allows us to ask what God is calling us to; how we can grow as Christians and it enables us to call out when we are in need and receive His love and strength. After the feeding of the 5000, a huge miracle, Jesus takes himself away to pray. Yes, even Jesus knows the value of prayer, alone time with God. If Jesus needs to pray how much more do we need to. Prayer is a powerful sacred space in which we are drawn into the presence of God, in which we learn through being with God, in relationship, and through prayer we are transformed more and more into the people God creates us to be. Prayer is a place entwined with generosity where we give ourselves to God, and He so completely to us, where we become better People.

18th August 2023

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to bless and not harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.

Do you remember those party games we played as children, hide and seek, musical statues and musical chairs. With musical chairs there was always less places than there were people and so someone would always miss out. It seems a bit like this every August when the exam results come out. In a moment a piece of paper can take that chair away and suddenly the university place someone had offered is gone. The plans made over the last couple of years are no longer possible and the dreams and hard work seem, in this moment, not to have paid off. Life can change in an instant, plans gone, future seems uncertain and yet year after year amazing admin staff and teachers in schools somehow manage to find new plans, new chairs to put back in the circle and no one is left without a future. The future may look different but so often I hear from students a year or so later who tell me this was the right thing for them, this is where they fit well. It is good to have plans but also to recognise that life never runs smoothly and change happens. God see the overall picture of life and He is right there in it with us whatever happens and He makes sure we always have a future and always have hope. 

17th August 2023

Matthew 13:26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

At some time in life, we all question why God allows evil to grow with the good. Who among us has not wanted to take matters into our own hands and think we are doing good by rooting out the evil in our midst? God would stop us from doing anything of the sort. Why? It is not so easy to tell the weeds or bad, from the wheat or good. The roots of both are often intertwined below the ground. In rooting out the weeds we would uproot the wheat as well, doing more damage to the good crop than leaving the weeds to grow. None of us are perfect, no group, or organisation is perfect. We have made mistakes and bad things do sometimes happen in our churches, and in ourselves, good and bad grow together so we can never get it completely right. Be warned of anyone who tells you they’ve got all the answers and those who selectively tell you who is good and, in their club, and who isn’t. Only God can make those decisions, we are not to judge others but to examine ourselves as we try to live good lives in God’s strength.

16th August 2023

Matthew 14:27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

I sometimes meet Christians who tell me that if we express fear, we do not have faith. I have to be polite but also firm as I remind them that there is nothing wrong with being fearful, it is a God given emotion given to actually keep us in check, keep us safe, and stop us doing dangerous and reckless things. There is an important lesson we need to remember about prayer. When life’s storms hit, when life is difficult and painful, we can cry out to the Lord in our fear and pain, and the Lord will immediately answer that prayer and be there. Being afraid doesn’t mean that we don’t have faith. Many of our Bible characters and heroes had times of fear. There is nothing wrong with being afraid. Our Lord wants to hear us when we are afraid. He wants to hear from us any time about anything, so remember, it is okay to cry out in fear when life’s storm hits, it is okay to cry out in prayer. Cry out to the Lord, and He will answer. Take courage, Jesus says. It is I. Do not be afraid. 

15th August 2023

Galatians 1:3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you still write letters? Maybe by email if not by hand. I still love hand writing letters and using old fashioned writing paper. In the New Testament St Paul wrote letters to the churches he had visited on his journeys. When you look at these letters he always begins with a greeting and ends with a blessing. What about us? Do we greet people, do we bless them? A friend told me that her daughter always says hello to people, asks them how they are, in shops, in the street, on the bus and she says how people’s demeanour changes because someone has greeted them, taken time to ask after them. A simple greeting to someone can completely change their day, make them feel appreciated, offer positiveness and encouragement. What a powerful thing we can do. I fully believe that when we offer blessing it will be returned to us. That’s not why we do it, but it is the wonderful consequence of greeting and blessing people wherever they are. Let me encourage you to greet people, to bless people, the simple phrase God bless as you say goodbye is powerful and encouraging. We are all God’s children and should greet each other in every circumstance and situation. May God bless you.

14th August 2023

Matthew 10:26 Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered and nothing secret that will not become known.

I am quite frustrated and angry that even as lies and dishonesty are being uncovered nothing seems to be done about it. No one seems to be being reprimanded or punished, actually it seems like the dishonest ones are actually being rewarded. Sometimes the only grain of comfort I can get is that the Bible promises that evildoers' words and deeds will be revealed and judged in due time. Liars and cheaters will be found out. I must admit I would like to see it happening now, because it seems wrong that evildoers are doing so well when the good people are suffering and struggling. Of course we too will be exposed if we deceive, if we lie and cheat. We, as Christians, are to be emboldened to speak God's good news without fear. We need to challenge, to stand up for good, for justice, for right. To challenge those who do wrong and stand on the side of truth and righteousness because the secrets will come out, the cover ups will be exposed and we can trust God to do it.

13th August 2023

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Did you ever have a tricycle as a child? It has three wheels and as such it is stable for a child to learn to ride before they learn to balance on two. The word Tri means three and is also the beginning of Trinity, the word we use to explain God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are several examples of three also being one, the tricycle, three wheels, one bike. The egg, shell, white and yolk but one egg, the clover with 3 leaves but one plant, one me who is mother, wife and daughter. The trinity sign reflects this with three parts but all interlocked and made of one continual stroke. Trinity is a word we use to describe God. We worship ONE God. But as we grow as Christians we learn about God and we find it is easier to understand God when we think about God in three ways; as Father or parent, as Son our brother who experienced our human life and Spirit, the life-giving breath of Father and Son who lives within us and helps us. Three in one, one in three.

12th August 2023

Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

When my boys were young, I would pray with them every night. We had favourite prayers and little books to help. From an early age most of us learned the Lord’s prayer in school, it is still used in some schools these days but sadly, not all. This family prayer is based on the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples when they asked for help and to teach them how to pray. Think about the first words of the Lord's Prayer? Our father. One way to understand God is to think of God as a father or parent. Jesus often speaks to God as Father as well as God and as such He encourages us to do the same. God takes care of us like a parent; watches over us and provides for us. For some who have been let down by a Father the term can be difficult, but if we see God as a parent, whether male or female, it is providing us with a view of God that enables us to feel protected, looked after, cared for just as a parent would do. As we become parents ourselves we begin to understand the joy and the responsibility of bringing up our children to be the best people they can be and God does the same with us as a wonderful, perfect parent of us, His children.

11th July 2023

John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Often, we have to go through someone to get to the person we really need to speak to. Whether it be a PA, security personnel, a phone screening, or a junior before reaching the senior person. When we pray, we often finish our prayers in and through the name of the Son, Jesus Christ. We understand that Jesus Christ was God's Son and entirely of God. That Jesus came as both God and human, that He was born and lived on earth. He is like a friend or brother to us. He walked and lived among ordinary people. He listened to them, worked with them, healed them and helped them with their troubles. He took on Himself our wrongdoing and it is through Jesus, His crucifixion, His death and resurrection, that we are able to be part of God’s family, that we can tell God our feelings and thoughts, our troubles and joys. But this is only possible because of what Jesus has done for us, restoring our relationship with God. Because of this we pray through Jesus, we recognise it is His saving of us that allows us back into relationship with God.

10th August 2023

2 Corinthians 13:13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

We cannot see the wind but we can see the affects it has, the moving branches, the flying dirt and sand, the pressure on our faces and we can see the devastation when winds are gale force. After Jesus ascended to Heaven He sent the Holy Spirit, the wind or breath of God, the ruach, the third part of the Trinity. This side of God is the part we don't physically see, but we see it’s affects and we can feel it. Recently we celebrated Pentecost when God sent the Holy Spirit into the apostles and gave them the power and strength they needed to do God's work. This Holy Spirit took people who had been scared, who had hidden away, who had betrayed Jesus and turned them into people who were willing to give their lives for their faith, to be put in prison and tortured. They became healers, preachers, missionaries, people who shared the gospel everywhere they went in God’s strength. All because of the Holy Spirit coming upon them. The Holy Spirit is there for us to. To enable us to be missionaries, healers, people who share the gospel everywhere we go. But we must be willing to allow the Spirit into our lives, to work, to strengthen and encourage us every day.

9th August 2023

Psalms 54:4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.

I recently watched a video about what people think about God. There were comments on white beards and old men, as well as pie in the sky, as well as something spiritual. For some God is their reason for living, the one who sustains them, their Lord. As Christians we have many ways of thinking about God, one of these is as Trinity, a triune characteristic or three ways of seeing God. Within the Trinity concept God can be seen as our parent, who takes care of us, looks after our welfare. As Jesus, the son, our saviour, our friend and brother who lives as both God and man. And as the Holy Spirit, the breath of life who gives us power and lives within us. It's easier to understand God when we think about these three parts. It is like riding a tricycle, while each of the three wheels are turning, taking us on an exciting ride through faith, we are still riding on one tricycle. We can see God and meet God in many different ways but He is still one God, our God who loves us unconditionally.

8th August 2023

2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.

I quite enjoy watching Formula 1, less so when one team dominates, but there are one or two drivers who always make it clear that winning is a team effort. They make it clear that they could not be on the podium as the winner without the team behind them. This is completely true, everyone who creates the car, sets everything up, reads and analyses data, looks after everyone, travels with them, everyone from the least to the top is vital in the success. Some who reach the heights with a good team have a far too important view of themselves and demand respect and money that they do not deserve. They become spoiled. We can be like this as Christians, we can easily forget that we need the team, friends, family, church, work etc to get us to the best part. Ultimately when we get too big for our boots and spoiled, we become self-confident, self-reliant and we forget all that God has done for us thinking we deserve the best because of how good we are. This is when it all goes wrong, when we forget how much we need God and make it all about us. We must not become so self-reliant that we forget God for that is when we are lost completely.

7th August 2023

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.

We all look forward to a party or dinner, something special happening. Most of life is the ordinary, the mundane, the routine and the every day. We get on with going to work or school, doing the shopping, cooking, cleaning, putting one foot in front of the other. Within our lives there will be special occasions and events, birthdays, graduations, Christmases, weddings, baptisms, but around those is ordinary, daily life. In the church year we have our special festivals, days, events but from about June through the summer we have what is called ordinary time. It refers to the ordinal, the rituals and prayers of the church that are ordered and occur day by day, in other words ordered daily church life. We have church vestments in the green colour, the earthy colour, the colour of hope, of life, of what sustains us each passing day. As much as we love special times and parties, we can’t live like that every day, we need the ordinary to appreciate the special. So, each and every day remember the blessing of the ordinary, the day to day, the putting one foot in front of the other and thank God for that as it makes the special times even more special and very much appreciated.

6th August 2023

Ephesians 4:24 Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Over the years I have met folk who are one person on Sunday in church but are very different in the week and in the world. People who prescribe to God’s love on a Sunday but do not act upon it in their dealing with others in the week. We are not called to love and care for others once in a while, or as an exception to the rule, or as some kind of special religious duty on a Sunday, rather, this is to be our way of life, our daily pattern of behaviour. Love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, these are to motivate, guide and shape our lifestyle every day. The Bible tells us we are made in the Image of God, to reflect Him, that we are called to be like Him, to be imitators of the good, of the positive, of the fair and just ways; to be tolerant and accepting of the other. As Christians we are called to live not just for ourselves but as part of a community that looks after each other, that helps each other no matter our culture, race, gender, orientation, skin colour, religion. We need to understand that we all need and rely on each other to live well and that is every day not just on a Sunday or just when we are with other Christians.

5th August 2023

Galatians 5:22&23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

As Christians it can be hard to live as God intended because we have our human nature which can make us selfish and unpleasant. The Bible offers us plenty of examples of how we should live and behave. We are encouraged to follow His example, to act as He would in our own lives. We are reminded to get rid of the negative stuff, the bitterness, rage and anger, the fighting and insults, the cruelty and wickedness which hurts others and destroys trust. When we get angry, when we fight, when we ridicule and use bad language or insults, anything like that, we are not following God’s example of goodness but instead imitating the bad ways of sin and death. These are things we need to stop in our lives and then replace these with positive things. We need to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgive each other, just as we are forgiven. Kindness and compassion are necessary for a fair and just world. Forgiveness is vital in all relationships. We need to be people of peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. These are the fruits of the Spirit, these are how we should live as Christians in the world.

4th August 2023

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

I grew up with a TV series called Mission Impossible which then went on to become a series of films for Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. The point was always that the mission was going to be impossible for any normal person, but there was a special team of people who could somehow do the impossible. In the early church the mission given to the disciples by Jesus, was to go and make disciples of all nations, to spread the gospel. Even today we call this spreading of the gospel evangelism and mission. People who went abroad to tell people about Jesus were called Missionaries, the places set up to help the poor and in the slums were called missions. When Jesus ascended back to Heaven He left that mission to human beings, He then sent the Spirit to empower us to do that mission. We often see mission and evangelism as a mission impossible, we hear about declining church numbers and Christians and we wonder if there is any point to even trying. But we have been given strength, power, authority and ability to do God’s work because He is the one in control, not us. All we are called to do is sow the seed, share the love, be God’s presence on the Earth and if we do this God will do the rest.

3rd August 2023

Psalm 91:3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

I was thinking recently of how quickly science was able to respond to Covid 19 and produce a vaccine. It showed how, if we are really serious about dealing with something we can. Of course, Governments have to be on board, willing to spend money and willing to make change. As soon as money was to be spent justifiably, it was amazing how quickly companies could be set up and people given multi-million-pound contracts for nothing. Covid 19 was used to make rich richer and poor poorer, all under the cover of a serious pandemic. Covid 19 forced people into action, got things done. There is an old saying that where there’s a will there’s a way. If and when we have a will to act, things get done. The same happens in the church. When we want to change and move on, we can. When we want to share the gospel and show God’s love, we can. We just have to be willing, invested, prepared to make the effort and commitment. Sometimes that can be hard, but we don’t have to rely on ourselves, we have God’s Spirit, a Spirit of power and help, a Spirit who comforts and guides.

2nd August 2023

Philippians 3:14 I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me.

We talk about goals in our lives, we encourage our young people to have a goal in life to work towards. If I asked you, What’s your goal? What would you say? Perhaps you might even say you have achieved it, but usually when we achieve a goal, we then give ourselves another one. What are some of the things you would like to achieve in the next week or month or year. Once you have decided on these, make a note of them list them so you can remind yourself of them regularly. When we have a goal, we have something to aim for, strive for and it often prompts us think harder, pray harder and work harder to achieve it. God calls us to live our lives the best we can for Him, to move toward His goals, to bring others to find what we have and when we set our goals alongside God, and strive for them in His strength we will be able to achieve them and grow as people of God.

1st August 2023

Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

Working with young people it seems that every voice tells them to pursue greatness, to boast, to journey towards success, money, celebrity and to make that their dream to strive for. Along the way to these futures, they and we find that our definitions of dreams and success differ from God’s. We worry ourselves striving for the label of extraordinary. We work too many extra, unnecessary and damaging hours for perfection. We cause ourselves such anxiety with all our strivings. We tell ourselves about all the other more important things than God that we think matter more. Healthy ambition starts with God. We need to start with the ambition to become more like God in word and deed, then to show grace to those closest to us and to those we may struggle with. Our hearts and minds need to be renewed with God’s definition of greatness, and replace the lies of unhealthy ambition with the truth of the Gospel and God’s true and beautiful ambition for us as His children.

31st July 2023

Proverbs 11:25 The one who appreciates and blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.
Sometimes I read verses like this and think, no way, this doesn’t seem to happen to me or others who are constantly helping and blessing others. In fact, it often seems like those who give the most to others suffer the most in return. Nurses who work so hard for others and can’t afford food, those who do volunteer work and are often verbally abused by those they try to help, food banks and community fridges unable to help everyone in need because there is just not enough to go round. The world and our country have become very selfish, so many are only concerned with themselves and will sell anyone down the river to gain more for themselves. The more folk who give and help, the more these are taken advantage of while the selfish and greedy just seem to take more. Come on God, this is just not good enough. I am sometimes quite disillusioned and wonder how I can change things. The only real and effective answer I have is to pray, to keep doing what is right, to keep blessing others and helping them in the hope that as we do this God is and will be working, things will change and God will use us to bring glory to Himself and to change our world for the better. We cannot give up, Lord help us not to.

30th July 2023

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

We are constantly being told that we all have too much. Our homes are stuffed with stuff. We buy more clothes, furniture, white goods, crockery, linen etc etc etc. Make do and mend is beginning to return but for years we have just thrown things away instead of repairing them. We tend to judge people’s standing by how much they have, how big a house and where it is, what sort of car, possessions are a status symbol, they matter in our society. When did we last appreciate that actually everything we have has come from someone else? We so easily forget that we have nothing of ourselves, we enter and leave this world with nothing, we owe it all to God. God is creator, God made the world and us and all that we have belongs ultimately to Him. It is really good for us to remember this. We need to be grateful, to show our appreciation to God for all that He has given us, but also to family and friends. It is too easy to believe we have earned and deserve everything through our own hard work instead of being grateful for all that God has freely given us. We deserve nothing of ourselves but our gracious God gives it to us anyway.

29th July 2023

1 John 1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

I have often heard the phrase, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” This does not mean how many Bibles we may have in our home or if we have actually read them, or how many t-shirts we may have that are filled with Christian statements or how often we go to church. The term evidence here means what difference being a Christian has actually made in your life. What do people actually see and hear? We could talk to members of our family and ask them if we really act like a Christian at home? We could also talk to people at work or school and find out if they actually know that we are a Christian or if it is a surprise to them. We could look at our life, our contribution to society and community and see if there would actually be enough evidence to convict us? Our lives as Christians should clearly advertise the Gospel message. If we are truly Christian, then others should see Jesus in us, in everything we do and say. So, do we believe that there would be enough evidence to convict us of being a Christian? It's an interesting question that requires an honest answer. Can you and I honestly say that others see the Gospel being lived in our life? It is worth thinking about and if necessary, making the changes needed to become the truth.

28th July 2023

Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the humans should be alone; I will make them a helper fit for each other.”

One of the greatest joys I have as a priest is taking a wedding. Sharing in the special day of a couple who want to dedicate their lives to each other before God. One of the things people do not realise is the legal aspects of the service which can only be done by a registrar or a Church of England priest. Once the service is completed the couple have to take the signed and witnessed document to the registrar to get their Marriage Certificate. It is this legal document which allows a name change if desired, to apply for new passports, bank accounts etc. The choice to marry has become a lot more optional in society with many couple choosing to live together rather than marry. This is a choice everyone must make for themselves, but must make together. Commitment is not defined by marriage but it is certainly the case that when something is official and legal it is often easier to stand up for, to fight for than when there is nothing to hold people together. Marriage is making a commitment before God, making promises before God as to how we will live and respect the other. It means keeping promises and bringing a family together. It means examining our motives and ideas before God and making sure God is at the centre. Marriage probably isn’t for everyone and however hard we try sometimes it goes wrong, but it is a good, positive way to start building a life together.

27th July 2023

Luke 6 :12&13 Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.

When you have a difficult decision to make what do you do? Mull it over, weigh up pros and cons? Jesus prayed! There is a clear lesson here for us, in all decisions we should pray, for wisdom, to make the correct choice, to be open minded in what we decide. Jesus chose the 12 disciples based on His prayer and on God’s calling. Many of them would have been rejected by todays standards for top positions in an organisation. Their education, family background, previous experience would have been found lacking. They do say that if the 12 went through selection for the priesthood today only Judas would have been chosen! God does not choose us on the basis of our past experience, family background or education, He chooses us because He created us and loves us completely. He knows we all have the potential to do amazing things with Him on our side. Everyone of us have wonderful things to do for God if we will listen to His call and let Him show us the way. God is calling you and I just as He called those first Disciples, they went on to change the world so can you!

26th July 2023

John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Much is said about our relationship with food. Diets are a huge money spinner; some people are helped but many are not. We have an obesity issue with our young people and in fairness I have never been small. In recent times I have discovered something about my relationship with food. As a child I was not allowed to leave the table unless my plate was cleared. Even if I was full up, not hungry, even unwell I had to finish everything on my plate. Because of this, even today I cannot leave food on plate without feeling guilty. I hate to waste food, not a bad thing, but I will still eat even if I am full up or not hungry so as to clear my plate. I became so conditioned as a child that even now it affects me. I find this same issue with some people’s relationship with God. Brought up to fear God, fear punishment, they become conditioned to seeing God as vengeful, angry, and live their life in fear of God rather than love of God. As a result, many of us feel constantly guilty and our relationship with God suffers. God does not want us to see Him that way, but rather as a loving parent who does not condemn but wants to forgive, to save, to love and to care for us if we will let Him. As always, the choice is ours.

25th July 2023

Malachi 3:3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.

As much as we would like to think we do, none of us know the standing of anyone else before God. That is between God and them! It sometimes seems to us that there are two groups of people in the world, good and evil, and we are in the good group, of course! Yet actually, there is both good and bad in all of us. We are all a mixture of good and bad and the bad needs to be burnt away, that will be painful. Just like the dross is burnt away from gold or silver to purify them so it will be from us. We need to recognise the seriousness of anything that leads us or others into sin. Sin comes from the human heart, which in Greek refers to the inner self, the mind and will. We cannot actually physically pluck out the inner self. So, the causes of sin and everything within us that causes sin will have to be burned away to leave what is pure before God. We will stumble, we will mess up, we will sin, but God does not give up on us, ever. 

24th July 2023

Matthew 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time, I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.

I am not much of a gardener; I don’t really know what are weeds and what are plants. Some weeds look quite pretty to me, until they wreak havoc across the garden. In Israel there is a plentiful weed that actually looks like wheat. The difference is only obvious when the plants mature and the ears appear. In an anxious attempt to get rid of the weeds sown to sabotage the wheat in this parable, the servants risk uprooting the wheat along with the weeds, thus losing the crop. The solution is to let both grow together until the harvest. It challenges us to ask ourselves if we are those who rush at a problem, want to dig it out immediately and don’t stop and think things through first. Often patience is needed rather than abrupt action, in reacting too quickly we can do more harm than good. In simple terms, the harvest is the end of the age, good and bad will grow together and God will make the final decision.

23rd July 2023

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I remember always being asked what do you want to be when you grow up? People often ask us what our plans are? So, what are your plans for the future? In the short term the summer, a holiday, but maybe next year, the future as regards family, study, job etc. There is only so much we can plan for, much of our plans are hopes, what we long for and desire; we then work towards these plans, what we can do to get there, and the longest journey begins with a first step. I am a great believer in not just plan A but B, C, D, E etc. I am a product of at least H by now. Life rarely takes us exactly where we planned to go, things change, we grow, we move on. I would not have pictured me here now, Priest and Chaplain, and I took several routes to get here. Within our own plans we often don’t let God’s plans surface. Yet we are reminded that it His plans that offer a good future, one of hope, prospering and protection. Even when things don’t seem to be working out as we would like God has it sorted, God will set us on the right path, the best path but we have to be willing to listen, to go and to let it happen. The struggle is always us trying to force God into our plans instead of letting Him guide and support us in His. There is nothing we can do about the past but learn from it, the present is here and now and ready for us to step into it with God by our side and the future is safe in God’s hands if we will allow it to be. 

22nd July 2023

Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.

The word soil in Greek is “ge” from which we get geology and geography, it means earth. We are from soil or dust and to that soil and dust we return. These words we hear every Ash Wednesday from Genesis 3:19 where the bond between creator and created was broken. As soil humans can be compacted, pressed down by countless travelling feet until we become rock hard, impenetrable where nothing can grow. We can become choked by the world, it’s pressures and delights, develop a skin which outside looks fine to others but within is hard and tough. The good news is that there are cracks, the seed can sometimes get in, the water can seep through. Even the hardest heart can be softened by God. Jesus is not just describing different types of soil or circumstances of life. He is describing our inner geography. These are the various landscapes of the human heart. The tangle of competing desires, of how we live and relate to others and to God. Jesus’ own interpretation describes the consequences of each kind of life. He knows, He understands and He is with us through all the changing scenes of life.

21st July 2023

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Here many of us are, the end of another academic year, the beginning of a summer break and the prospect of exam results, a new term and school year, new classes, new schools, new universities, and colleges to come. As much as we try to be normal, the pandemic still casts its long tendrils into lives, it will for years to come. Experiences of everyone have been different, priorities have changed, and the value of life and quality life has been recognised again. Change is a part of life be it good or bad but the greatest assurance we have is that we never go through these changes alone. We make our journey with God right there beside us, if we let Him, it is our choice after all. We sometimes equate God’s presence with us as a guardian Angel, or as a friend who is just there with us. At times we do feel alone but we are not, we are never alone while God is with us and He is not going anywhere, even if we ignore Him, He will never ignore us. There is always someone who can help, there is always God in varying forms and presences in our lives, there is always support both practical and spiritual because God put us all here together to be God to one another. To be His physical presence for each other. We are never alone because God is with us.

20th July 2023

Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

For the last few years we have celebrated Pride week in school, raised the pride flag and focused on inclusivity during that week. Wearing a dog collar means that many of the students are warry of what I think, they see and hear so much negativity toward them by the church that they think I won’t understand. So, it surprises and pleases them when I am there, raising the flag and speaking about celebrating every single person. This year I spoke about pride in who we are, in how we treat and accept others. We stand under the flag in unity, believing that every person is created in the image of God and that God does not make mistakes. This Psalm reminds us that we were knit together in our mother’s womb and that God knows us there. There is no where we can go from His love, God is love and love is God! Love in any form is never wrong. We tend to bind God by our laws and traditions, try to put Him in a box of our own making, God does not fit in any of those boxes, He is not bound by our arbitrary laws and traditions but transcends them. I am aware that many people disagree with me, nevertheless I stand under that rainbow flag knowing God loves us all equally and I have no right to judge others who are walking the path they believe in and in God’s love I support them.

19th July 2023

1 John 1: 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched, this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

Over the years I have seen and heard of many “experiences” being described as full on, complete emersion and fully interactive. They are trying to tell us that every sense, every emotion, every feeling will be affected by what happens. In John’s first letter he is saying that is exactly what being a Christian is all about. Life in God through Jesus is a full on, totally immersive, fully interactive experience. What we hear, see, touch, taste, smell and feel is full life in Christ. We experience it and we pass it on, it touches us so deeply, so completely that we want to share it with others, we want to testify to that life in Christ. This opens the door to everyone being given the opportunity to find God for themselves and so bring everyone into a relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This full-on experience isn’t one day in the future, it is now, every moment of every day, everywhere we go, in homes, school, work, shops, with family, friends, everywhere; God is everywhere, and we experience Him everywhere. Being a Christian is a 24-hour experience, every day. God is not only with us but within us. Let us be fully immersed, fully interactive with Him and testify to it by both our words and our actions.

18th July 2023

Matthew 13:4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

We may not have ploughed a field or been farmers but we all recognise the different landscapes of the parable of the Sower. We know the beaten path of life, the path of prejudice, a path where not much grows, where life and opportunities are too quickly snatched away. We’ve stumbled through the rocky patches of life we know what it is like to live between a rock and hard place and how on the rocky ground life withers because you can’t put down any roots and there’s no security or stability and the sun scorches us. We have been scratched and cut by the thorns of life walking amongst the thorns of violence, fear, anger, and poverty. Thorns that wrap themselves around us and our family choking away dignity, security, trust. And we have planted our roots deep in the sacred soil of life that feeds and grows us to become a harvest, in one case, a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty. We stand in that dark rich soil that nourishes life, love, and hope. That soil is given by God, is richly sown by God and blessed by Him.

17th July 2023

James 1:5 - If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

How good is your decision making? How much do you let others influence you? I heard recently that Dolly Parton was asked by Elvis Presley’s manager to let him record “I Will Always Love You” Great you would think, but they wanted 50% of the royalties from the song forever, the song she wrote. People told her yes, go for it, can’t go wrong etc. She was unhappy, warry and decided against all the advice to say no. Then Whitney Houston recorded it, the royalties Dolly earned for her song allowed her to set up Dollywood and loads of charity work in the area. She had made the right choice and used the money wisely. It is so easy to be swayed by power, celebrity, confidence, yet if we have nagging doubts, they are worth listening to, examine the pros and cons, ask the awkward questions, ask God for wisdom. God gave us a conscience, He gave us gut feelings, He gave us gifts and talents to use for Him, not to allow the greedy to gain from what He has given us. The charity work of this one woman far outstrips most and because of her children read, have decent homes and do not go hungry. God has things for you to do, when others try to change your direction or take what is yours from God, pray, seek God, ask for wisdom, challenge and make sure God’s gifts are used for the right things.

16th July 2023

Matthew 10:40 Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

Do you have a mat out the front of your house? Perhaps you have one with welcome written on it or with paw prints, family names, flowers, it seems you can get anything. Usually, we see a mat like this outside the door to our home. A mat such as this usually has two purposes. It is a friendly reminder for people to wipe their shoes so that they won't track dirt or mud into our home. It is also placed outside our door as a sign to let people know that they are welcome in our home. What does the word "welcome" mean? It means to receive someone in a warm and friendly way. Are people always welcome in our homes? In some cultures when someone comes to your home, they must give you food and drink because you are a guest and they must make you welcome. Do we welcome people into our home if they’re not the same as us? Do we welcome people into our homes if they don't have as much money as we do? How about in our church? Do you think that we make everyone feel welcome in our church? Do we speak to those people who are visiting our church that we do not know? If someone comes to our church and they are not dressed the way we are dressed, not the same as us? Do we make sure that they are made to feel welcome? Jesus said, whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. If we turn that around, we will understand that if we do not welcome others into our homes and into our churches, it is the same as if we are refusing to welcome Jesus. We wouldn't do that, would we? Let's put the welcome mat out, and let's be sure that we mean it!

15th July 2023

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

When the photos come out of me as a child, I remember not really having a care in the world. I remember long hot summers, although many weren’t. I remember the simple joy of playing with friends, of going out with friends and being gone all day on bikes, at the park, in the fields, and nothing seemed to worry us. Sometimes I long for those simple days, less worries, more joys, the me that didn’t see threats round every corner, who did not worry about how I looked or what I wore. As life goes on and things change, we change, we become weighed down by so much in society and in life. Yet God never intended for us to be like that. That simple childhood joy and trust is what God wants for us. God reminds us of the peace He leaves with us, of the not letting our hearts be troubled or afraid, but living our best life, full of joy, not weighed down by things. Instead of seeing problems lets try to see opportunities, instead of letting worry overcome us lets try to let God’s peace wash over us and keep us rested and relaxed in Him.

14th July 2023

1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

When the term body of Christ is used what do you think of? The bread and wine of Communion perhaps, the actual body of Jesus on the cross or yourself and others? St Paul teaches about us being the body of Christ here on earth. You and I, as Christians, are called to be the body of Christ on earth today. We are called to be Jesus hands and feet, to do as Jesus did, to be those who have compassion, who offer care and love for the other. We may not have the miraculous healing powers of Jesus Christ; but we shouldn’t underestimate how powerful our actions, our touch can be on others. When we hold a hand, offer an encouraging and heartfelt hug, feed the hungry, give hospitality when it is needed, these things matter so much. What we do for others can fulfil a longing, and can even bring spiritual and sometimes physical healing. As the body of Christ each of us is important, with a vital role to play for God. Be encouraged and allow yourself to be used to bring God’s love to everyone in whatever way God asks and equips you too.

13th July 2023

Matthew 10:9-10 Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts, no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.

How good are you at packing? I have to make lists and there is always too much. In this day and age, we are not good at travelling light. Airplane restrictions do mean we have to cut down on packing and I am in awe of those folk who just take a cabin bag! In Jesus time everyone travelled light, they had very little anyway, but Jesus tells them to not even take their purse, or money etc. All He wanted them to carry was His teaching, God’s love, in their hearts and minds, the stories of God’s work over the centuries, the Hebrew writings and teachings. Carry those and share them. When we share God’s love it comes from inside, our hearts, minds and not from all the stuff we have. Being genuine people is what makes the difference, us living well in the world. People don’t come to faith because of belongings and trappings, they come because they find in us honesty, love, compassion, empathy, care, integrity and that challenges them to find out why. We don’t need to rely on things, on possessions, but on the love and teachings God has put in our hearts and minds.

12th July 2023

John 14: 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

I remember being told a story of a person who said to His vicar, your sermons are like the meals I eat, I do not remember them all, but I know they have done me good. We cannot, as humans, remember everything we have read or learned, or been taught. I know some of my students’ taking exams wish they could remember everything. One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to bring to remembrance those things we need when we need them. The Bible passage that comes to us when in a conversation or sharing with someone, the conscience that challenges our behaviour, our language; the voice inside that reminds us to visit someone or phone them, the remembering of dates that are important to those grieving, the names of those we have lost in prayer and so much more. This is the Spirit at work, reminding us of Jesus teaching, giving us wisdom, insight, understanding and continuing the teaching of God within us as we grow and learn as Christians. Jesus told His disciples that when the Spirit came, He would remind them, guide them, continue to speak to them in wisdom and love. That same Spirit is available to us, every day, all we need to do is recognise the Spirit within us, allow the Spirit to work and use us and invite the Spirit to do that each and every day.

11th July 2023

Matthew 10:39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Losing something is unsettling, especially something valuable. I remember losing a ring I had been given for Christmas, I was distraught. Losing a life is far, far worse, it totally destroys people, brings huge grief, and actually the term losing a life I find completely underplays the value of human life. In recent days we have lost 2 young children who were just having fun at an end of term tea party. Horrendous, awful, unbelievable and once life is over, it is gone, no return. The value of a human life cannot and must not be underestimated and yet many seem to find the loss of life for some, those different to us or from other countries, no real shock or sadness. That is totally shameful on our part. Life is everything, and finding true, full and eternal life in Jesus is vital for everyone. These words remind us that we need to give up our definition of the good life with the goal of personal success and find our true identity and purpose in Christ's service. That way life’s full and true value in Christ will never be underestimated or lost and will always be found in Christ.

10th July 2023

Romans 7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Currently Wimbledon is on and it brings memories of past visits and long summers after exams watching the games and my favourite players. In a TV programme about top tennis players Martina Navratilova says sometimes you win when you shouldn’t because you forget how to lose. Imagine being so good at something that you forget how to get it wrong. How great it would be to be so good at being a Christian that we forget how to fail, how to sin. Yet Paul reminds us that even in our love of God we still do those things we don’t want to do and do not do the things we should do. Within us there is a constant battle, a human nature which trips us up, causes us to fail, to lose, even when we should not because we know God stands with us and in Him our future, out winning, is secure. Perhaps we need a little more faith in ourselves and in God to provide the strength we need to do well.

9th July 2023

Matthew 10:30 Even the hairs of your head are counted.

None of us knows exactly how many hairs we have on our head; in my husband’s case it is a lot less than it used to be. Many treatments are now available to prevent hair loss or to even restore it. Numbers of hairs can be estimated by machines and calculations but it is not an exact science. When we are told that even the hairs on our head are counted by God, it shows that God knows exactly how many hairs we have; that He counts them for each individual to show us just how valued we are before Him. Since God values us so highly, we can be assured that God will always stand up for us. It is sometimes very difficult to be assured of just how special we are, to appreciate our value to God and yet we are so important to Him, so valuable that He gave His son for us, to die in our place. God cares and God knows. To put it in terms we can relate to, God has our picture on His fridge. God knows everything about us, God loves us completely and utterly, unconditionally, we matter!

8th July 2023

Colossians 2:3 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.

How easily are you fooled? Our education should have provided us with the ability to question and challenge and help us not to just accept what we are told, but that is not always the case. We are seeing a current trend in our politics and media of not telling the truth, of manipulating figures and facts to push an agenda. Those in authority, those with power, will do whatever they can to hold onto their power. If history has taught us anything about the manipulation of the media, the telling of lies, the promoting of policies to centre a target, to cause a distraction, then World War 2 is the perfect example. Once you persuade people that it is all the fault of one group, one religion, one type; once you drip feed the lies and falsehoods; once ordinary people are fooled into blame, the powerful can manipulate, hold onto and increase power, erode more and more human rights and things spiral rapidly toward dictatorships. We are all entitled to an opinion but it must be informed by facts and truth. We also need to accept that others are entitled to their opinion and we must respect that. Democracy and freedom are built on allowing difference and respecting the rights of all no matter who they are or where they are from. We are taught as Christians not to allow ourselves to be deluded or fooled by those who can appear very plausible but are actually very dangerous. We must make informed choices and decisions by checking facts, looking for the truth, understanding that people manipulate the truth to suit their own ends. Always ask yourself what someone has to gain by telling me this, that way you can begin to see through the empty deceit. The more informed we allow ourselves to be before God, the more we challenge and hold people to account, the better our communities and our country will be. 

7th July 2023

Matthew 10:38 Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

We use the term cross in varying times of difficulty in life. We speak of our cross to bear over things which weigh us down but yet we feel are ours to deal with. Cross roads are those times in life when we face the choice of which direction to go. We cross from one place to another in life, sometimes to avoid things. Being cross with someone is to be angry at them, it comes from cross meaning to hinder or thwart. Jesus’ crucifixion gave us the symbol of the cross as an instrument of torture and death borne by Jesus to make Christians free again before God. Taking up our cross is anything we suffer or undertake for the sake of Christ. It could be persecution, aggression, illness, anger, extra work, extra expectation. Taking up our cross is not easy and yet we should not shrink from the difficult decisions, the sacrifice in service of God's kingdom, especially as God promises to be with us and strengthening us through it all. We take up our cross alongside Jesus taking up His cross for our sake.

6th July 2023

Proverbs 3:13 How blessed is the one who finds wisdom and gains understanding.

Do you have a favourite saying? My Grandad would say take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves, and many hands make light work. I still cross that bridge when I come to it, and when in Rome…. These are proverbs or sayings they learnt as children and passed onto us. When Jesus calls the 12 and sends them out into the mission field, he warns them they will face opposition and even violence. Many Rabbis or teachers used to teach their students by giving them Pearls of wisdom, verses, proverbs, to carry with them, reminding the students of the wider meaning. Jesus, as a rabbi or teacher, incorporated this method of teaching. Jesus used pearls of wisdom to give his disciples the tools they needed as they went to serve God. Jesus had instructed them to travel light and gives these nuggets of advice to take with them. Carrying and remembering these truths and acting accordingly is how the disciples and us today can face up to opposition and still share the gospel effectively. 

5th July 2023

Matthew 10:37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.

The question of who we put first, God or family, is a really difficult one. This very question used to be asked at clergy selection conferences and many felt they were turned down for ministry because they said they put family before God. The God I have encountered and been blessed by would not, I think, force that choice. Yes, if family were endangering life, going completely against God’s word, leading us astray, then perhaps a choice needs to be made, but I believe that God gave us our families to care for us and us for them. Families are a gift from God. God chose Mary and Joseph to be Jesus family on earth. I believe here Jesus is saying that where Parents try to turn us from God, from our calling, then we do need to make a stand. We should love Him and give Him our highest loyalty, but we also need to remember that it is God who is the key to all our other relationships.

4th July 2023

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

When I was young my Nan would often say peace little one, especially if I was upset. Her quiet voice promoted that peace she was in fact praying for, just for me. Peace is often seen just as the absence of war, we want peace anywhere there is conflict, meaning that we want people to stop fighting, stop hurting each other, stop the destruction. Peace is also a state of mind and self. Some people just exude peace, their voice, their demeanour, how they walk and act, they are just peaceful people. Jesus left us His peace, He was a peaceful person, the only time we see His peace disturbed is when he overturns the tables in the Temple which had become a marketplace of dishonesty instead of a House of God. That peace was left for us by Jesus, that ability to walk in peace, to feel peaceful in heart and mind even when life is difficult, and to speak words of peace and assurance into every situation. The peace of God can be seen, perhaps, as the absence of war within us. The warring of our human nature against God’s good nature which we can struggle with daily. But, God’s peace is not as the world gives, it is a peace of heart and mind that allows us to know His love and presence in every situation no matter how hard. That is God’s peace, the peace Jesus left us with. May we know that peace and live with that peace and pass on that peace each day and not let our hearts be troubled or be afraid.

3rd July 2023

Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

What do you carry with you? What is in your heart and mind? What verses, proverbs, memories, teaching, prayers do you hold in yourself. For some Rosary Beads help in remembering prayers, for others the Lord’s prayer is remembered, even by elderly people with Dementia. People have survived in prisons and solitary by knowing Bible verses and even preaching a sermon to themselves. We carry so much with us in ourselves but so often forget to use it, so often we invest in having things rather than what is inside us. Bible verses and proverbs, reminders, pearls of wisdom we will need and want to carry along with us as we meet difficult tests of our faith in our daily lives in the world. Reminders of faith, of promises, of Gods faithfulness, these are what we carry with us, not possessions but Gods love for us, Gods teaching, memories of His faithfulness and blessing. We carry Christ in our hearts and heads guiding, strengthening, encouraging us, through the good times and the bad.

2nd July 2023

Matthew 10:32. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven, but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

Being labelled as someone’s friend or enemy can determine much of our future. If we sit with the cool kids, reject the poorer ones, deny who we mix with to maintain an heir of popularity, we deny not only those we should be caring for, but we also deny God who has asked us to treat everyone with respect and love. Peter denied Jesus three times, we may well deny Jesus several times a day, but if we deny our faith, our love of God, then we cannot stand honestly before God, He cannot defend us and our behaviour. In light of this reality, we should choose to acknowledge Jesus and his kingdom every day in all we say and all we do. We should also encourage others to do the same. We cannot be ashamed of what we believe. We must make a stand, nail our colours to the mast. As Jesus defends us before God, we must defend others, defend God’s presence and stand up for the truth. We need to be honest about who we are.

1st July 2023

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Following someone’s lead and mimicking or Imitating what they do leads to the development of traditions, and ultimately our culture. It allows for the transfer of information, our behaviours, customs, etc. between individuals and down through generations. Things our ancestors did we do, our religions and customs are heavily influenced by this. Behaviours such as fasting, baptising, taking communion, reading the Bible, prayer, festivals; we do these things because our ancestors have done them and although some things change with the times, we follow the traditions and cultures of our ancestors in faith. Sadly, some traditions are not good and do need change but if we think in terms of, does what I am doing or saying glorify God, then we can’t go far wrong. If we act as God would act, with love, compassion, honesty, integrity, justice and fairness; then we will keep all that is good and shed all that damages faith and loses sight of who God really is.

30th June 2023

Luke 8:44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.

If someone we love dies or is seriously ill, or has a long-term illness, we and they long for someone to do something. Any medicine, any doctor, any treatment to return health, bring relief. In the Bible Jesus encounters a young daughter’s death and a woman desperate for healing. The woman has suffered as her life blood has been draining from her constantly for 12 years, but she believes in the power of Jesus the healer. ‘If I only touch his clothes, I will be made well…’ and the miracle happens. The moment she touches Jesus, her bleeding stops. Then there is the little girl. Jesus cuts through the commotion, takes her by the hand, and she gets up, healed. Here Jesus is so close, so close that people are touched both physically and spiritually. God responded to their human need. Sadly, our human bodies can’t always be physically healed, yet God is still wanting the best for us, providing medical help where we need it, support and care. We can pray for each other, offer help and support, and look to our Lord for ultimate healing when pain and suffering will be no more.

29th June 2023

Jeremiah 30:17a But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the LORD.

We are not used to waiting for things to be fixed these days. We want it repaired instantly, someone to come out and fix the leak, the light, the computer, the car. I have had a couple of church wardens in the past who seemed to be able to fix anything with glue and duct tape. We also have become a society that throws away and replaces rather than get things mended. I have always kept a set of screw drivers close to hand and we have a good bag of tools under the stairs. I sometimes wonder if God has a set of divine screwdrivers and I think we can often see God as a divine handy man who can do a quick fix of a situation, a relationship, an illness, a job loss and prayer is like the speed dial we keep on our phone for our demand of God to fix it. God can and does fix things but in the right time, and they are not just about us but about family, friends, others who are affected by our mistakes. When we break things, make mistakes, cause hurt and pain, as much as God can fix things and can put things right, we must live with and accept the consequences of our actions and that we may need to play a part in the fixing of them. There is no quick fix with God, only proper repairs that take time and are done properly, God’s way.

28th June 2023

Psalm 143:3 when my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who knows my way.

When the boys were younger, they would go on a night hike with the scouts. In groups they would have a map, torch, check points and adults near just in case. The excitement of the start would slowly drain away and as the night wore on, energy levels would drop, tiredness crept in and forward movement became more and more difficult; they were weary, they really wanted to be in bed. Somehow, they would slowly get to their destination, usually with a bit of help from adults and by the time parents picked up the next morning they were shattered and weak and need of some TLC. In life we often get to a point where we are tired, faint, weary, in need of TLC and find it hard to move forward, to find our way. It is at our weakest that we feel God the nearest. He is always right there but when we are in our greatest need He is so close, supportive, holding us up and directing us the right and best way forward. It is God who knows our way, the best way.

27th June 2023

John 16:21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.

What are your strongest memories, the things you will never forget? These are often either very happy times or very traumatic ones. The Graduation Day, Wedding Day, special anniversary or birthday, the birth of a child but also the death of a loved one, an accident or long illness, failure and hurt. These events leave an impression on us, they affect our thinking, our behaviour, our approach to life and people, out trust. Jesus speaks of joy through pain, at the time you have a baby the pain of 3 to 20 hours of labour disappears when the baby is put in your arms. Of course a traumatic birth or tragedy can and does affect the future for a family. The truth is that often the painful times are when we learn, we grow, become resilient and learn coping strategies. Jesus did not give up on His role of death, crucifixion, pain and torture; He had doubts, fears and He expressed those in the garden but in the context He saw the joy achieved through this which enabled all of humanity to find a way back to God. He saw the bigger picture, what would be achieved. Sometimes we need to look beyond, look at the bigger picture, see the possibilities of a better future achieved by difficulties and struggles now. Hang on in there, because God is right there hanging with you, giving you what you need to get through the difficult times and supporting you.

26th June 2023

Hebrews 13: 6 Do not forget to do good to others, and share with them, because such things please God.

We all have people we struggle with, people we say we dislike, in some cases people even talk of hate. Yet to live in a civilised society we have a duty of care to everyone no matter how much we like them or not. No matter someone’s status, wealth, culture, skin colour, religion, gender etc they have the same rights as we do before God. We need to see all humans as equal, even when we disagree with them, are angry at them. It does not mean that we do not question and challenge behaviours and decisions, but we do so with respect. We must recognise the value of each and every human being, no matter who they are or where they are from. We have no right to look down on anyone, to be dismissive of someone who does not have our education or our economic status, or our family situation, or uses a food bank or needs help to survive. There but for the grace of God go any or all of us. When we are blessed with so much, and we are, we need to share what we have, be humble about our status, looking out for others as much as we do ourselves, if not more so. Within our places of work, our families, our social activities we need to serve others, make wise decisions, speak out and be courageous in our advocacy for others. 

25th June 2023

Philippians 2:3 When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honour to others than to yourselves.

I wonder what your opinion is of migrants? The very language we use is inflammatory, the media tell stories to increase hatred and many have come to believe they are a threat to us. The truth is far less threatening for us but not for them. Societies round the world persecute and threaten ordinary people, fascist policies paint refugees who are forced to flee for their safety as migrants. A boat of 750 migrants was abandoned and capsized, only just over 100 were saved. These people had been maltreated, conned, were desperate but no one wanted to help, those who did and are fearing prosecution in their own countries. In our channel many have died, again we are told they are illegal, they don’t count, but they are humans who have no legal route to a country who supposedly is welcoming to those in need, those who are denied their freedom elsewhere. The stories painted are embellished to make us think badly and want it stopped, this is manipulation of the highest order, this is fascism hidden within a supposedly free press. Civilisation is now under threat because the people we reject and spurn grows and grows, the blaming of others grows, and the targets widen. Those who are wealthy believe they can dictate what and why we believe and act, this is dangerous and not what God intended. No one is more important than another because of wealth or skin colour. How dare we look down on others and treat them with anything but respect. One person’s life in no more important than another. Before God we are all created equal and trying to politicise people, degrade people, dehumanise people for our own ends is despicable, against God and in need of challenge.

24th June 2023

Mark10:16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

I was at a concert some years ago and the singer spoke of her best friend who she had recently lost and she spoke of how we should hug and hold those we love more than we do. How we need to appreciate those we love while we have them as we never know what tomorrow may bring. During the pandemic we craved physical contact and touch of those we love. It hurt not to be able to hug our children, our grandchildren, our friends. A very special and important way to connect with others was missing. In Jesus Christ, God shares fully in our sensual human experience. Jesus was embraced and sheltered in his mother’s womb, as we are. Jesus knows first-hand how important touch is for our wellbeing, how powerful it is. Time and again Jesus doesn’t only say something but also touches people, or lets people touch him. Holding another person is an expression of love, of care and compassion and it shows how valuable someone is to us. God has given us this wonderful blessing of touch and feel and we should use this to bless others and ourselves.

23rd June 2023

John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans, desolate, alone: I will send the Holy Spirit to come upon you.

Life is not good when we are lonely. In life we make friends, people we relate to, have things in common with, have a coffee with. The term Paraclete, a word used for the Holy Spirit in Greek, also means friend. The Holy Spirit, among many other of His roles, is also a friend to us. Friends are people who support us and who hold us accountable, who have seen us at our best and at our worst, who are there for us before we even have to call them. Sometimes they live near us, sometimes a great distance away, and yet, when we need them, they are there. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in just this way: supportive of us when we need it; hang in there, you can do it, want to talk about it? But the Spirit also holds us accountable when we need that too; reminding us that we are about to really mess up! To take a step back, to think twice. A friend is someone who knows all about us but still loves us, the Spirit knows us completely, the best and worst, but still loves us and will always be our friend, offering support and challenge and He is always there, on our side if we allow Him to be.

22nd June 2023

Philippians 2:4 Look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.

75 years ago today the Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury. That and other boats brought people from the Caribbean that we had invited to come and help us rebuild after the war. We invited them and promised them a wonderful future here. Move onto 2018 and we discover that the government had wrongly detained, denied rights and deported these people because Government promises were not kept, and immigration became a hot political agenda. The government had not issued promised passports, had taken and destroyed legal documents all to get rid of those it no longer wanted in society. Agreed compensation has still not been received by most of these people and we now discover that more than 400 were deported between 1950 and 1980 because they had long term health needs or mental health issues which we did not want to help with. Both are historic injustices with illegal action by the UK government. This is mistreatment of human beings, this is saying one human is more important or deserving than another because of skin colour or race, economic status or birthplace. How dare we put one life above another. God has clearly shown us that we are all equal and have no place above one another. We are called to look out for others not just ourselves, the question is do we do that and if not then we have to change.

21st June 2023

John 17:15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.

When my husband and boys leave home I say to them, keep safe. I never take for granted that it will be that way and am keenly aware that we all need protection. Jesus understands this and prays for Protection for those of us in the world serving Him. “Holy Father, protect them…” He knew the disciples would face dangers. We know from church history that many of them, were martyred, tortured, imprisoned. The church has always been persecuted by ‘the world’. We also face difficulties through our profession of faith; we are not always able to choose the easy path; we are sometimes called to sacrifice our hopes and dreams and ambitions in the service of God. And Jesus prays for our protection in the midst of this. We need to remember that Jesus prays for our protection, that God is with us, guiding and leading the way ahead. Some of us may feel life is currently a treacherous and dark journey and we need to know the promise of God to be with us, the promise of His protection over us. Even now, Jesus is interceding for us, for each of us, praying for us, providing protection for us in the struggles of life that we face.

20th June 2023

 Mark 1:41a Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him.

It is always awful and upsetting to see terrible things unfold around us and on the news. The recent death of two young people in Bournemouth, the stabbing of a three-year-old child, the London and Manchester bombings. Whenever we witness these images, we see family and friends, anxiously waiting for news about missing loved ones, we see people holding on to each other in their desperation and grief. Feeling someone’s presence with us, holding us, helps us make it through traumatic situations. During COVID-19 in hospitals, nurses and doctors described how heart-breaking it was for them to witness the isolation of their patients. To witness how much people craved touch. To witness how many people died without being cradled by a loved one, without having their hand held. God never intended us to face things alone, from the beginning God wanted humans to have company, to share in life’s wonders but also it’s bad times. God is relationship, Father, Son and Spirit, and we are created within relationship which is why we need each other and benefit from having others to share life with in relationship with each other and God.

19th June 2023

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

When did any of us last appreciate that everything we have has come from someone else? It is good for us to remember that we came into the world with nothing and therefore show our appreciation to God, family and friends for all that we have. We don’t really possess adequate language to express the appreciation we should have. We have been given far more than we deserve, more than we could ask for. When life is difficult, God is there, gently holding us, pursuing us, loving us back into His family time after time. It is so easy to forget to thank God because we simply do not appreciate what He has done for us. God shows us His love and faithfulness, His goodness and grace, His immense forgiveness and mercy to us every day in the midst of all our wrong doing. It is because of God’s love and appreciation for us that we can and should be thankful in all circumstances assured that He is working for the good of all.

18th June 2023

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will look up to the LORD our God.

Recently I have been working on next terms rota and themes for Collective Worship, used to be called Assemblies. The advisor who came in recommended that I try and place everything into up, in and out. In other words what we do for God, up, what we do for ourselves, in, and what we do for our community, out. This is a really good way of looking at life. If we start by looking up, at God, His teaching, His unconditional love, then from there we can make changes in ourselves and then be instrumental in making changes for others around us. It starts with God. Until we get our relationship in balance with Him, through Jesus, the rest never quite happens. Once we know our own faith, our own wonderful status before God, we can then make our lives better, learn, change and that in turn allows us to be better neighbours, better friends, better representatives of God in our community. Let me encourage you to look up to God, to let Him work in you and then to allow that to strengthen your work with others. Look up, look in and look out.

17th June 2023

Luke 18:15a Now they were bringing infants to him that he might touch them.

The first sensual experience we have as humans is while we are still in our mother’s womb, we are held secure, in contact with our mothers. Physical contact needs to continue right after birth. Skin-to-skin contact in the first hour helps to regulate babies’ temperature, heart rate, and breathing, and it helps them cry less. It also increases the mother’s relaxation hormones. A lack of touch, especially in the early years, can have devastating consequences; who can forget those orphaned infants exposed to the bleakest of conditions in eastern block institutions who exhibited impaired growth and cognitive development, as well as serious infections and attachment disorders. It is scientifically proven that touch is important for young children, and for the elderly, and we all benefit from touch, physically and mentally. Touch calms us down. Touch is good for body and soul. God has given us the ability to comfort one another through touch. To offer both physical and spiritual comfort. To encourage and bless each other through physical contact. May we use it wisely and well.

16th June 2023

Ephesians 3:16 I ask the Father in his great glory to counsel you through His Spirit that you may be strong inwardly through His Spirit.

We now recognise the growing need for Counselling, in fact there are not enough counsellors to fulfil the roles now created. Most secondary schools now have counsellors or links to them, for their pupils, particularly since Covid. For the Christian we too need counselling and this can point to the still small voice of God, to the wisdom of God, that will guide us toward the truth, if we will sit with it and are prepared to talk and listen. The counsellor, another name for the Holy Spirit, offers the peace that comes when we have settled on the correct decision and begun to walk in the right path. The best counsellors are people who listen, and because they are such great listeners, they move us to say things that express the depths of our hearts. And when we have expressed them and recognised them, there is often a clarity, healing and even a freedom. The Holy Spirit offers us that counselling, that listening, that freedom to express our feelings and thoughts out loud and to come to a way forward that is safe and wise. As counsellor He offers us help with our mental health, wisdom in the decisions we make and healing for those things which hold us back.

15th June 2023

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

In primary school I clearly remember a visit to Lullingstone Roman Villa. I was fascinated by the mosaics which we could get so close to. How tiny pieces of tile were used to create a picture, colour, features, representations. Considering how old these mosaics were they were clear and vibrant. I am still fascinated by the creation of larger pictures by using small, often broken, pieces, all different, to create the bigger picture. We often forget that as Christians we are a tiny part of the bigger picture, we are often broken and yet when we work together, mix our colours and shapes together we create a bigger, colourful, detailed picture. God takes us, our brokenness, our rough edges, our different colours and gifts and turns them into incredible, lasting things which inspire and last. I was at Lullingtone again last year and even more detail has been recovered, even more wonderful pictures because God keeps on using us, broken or not, different colours, different gifts and we are always valuable and useful to God in creating the bigger picture of God’s wonderful creation.

14th June 2023

Genesis 32:28 Then He said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have wrestled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Most of us have been given the gift of 5 senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. These are the channels through which we experience and connect with the world, and those senses are something to be truly thankful for. Now which of our 5 senses, do you think, is the most important one? Apparently, TOUCH is often considered the most important of our senses. Our whole body is designed for the touchy-feely experience: the skin we’re in is our largest organ. Under every square inch of our skin, there are about 1,000 nerve endings each of these nerve endings is wired to our brain where we register what those nerve endings are picking up on: the pleasure of a hot bath or shower. A refreshing wind on a hot day. The comfy feel of our favourite sweater. But they also set off all the alarm bells in our brain, when we experience discomfort and pain. Throughout the Old Testament, God sees, God hears, God even smells –God’s physical touch is rare, but it happens in the story of God wrestling with Jacob. God uses senses to connect with creation, to connect with humanity. God gave us our senses to connect with nature and each other and we can use them to experience Him and to serve one another.

13th June 2023

John 16:7 But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away. When I go away, I will send the advocate to you. If I do not go away, he will not come.

We all go through life hoping we will never need a solicitor, accept maybe for house buying. For those who find themselves accused of wrongdoing a solicitor or advocate, is someone who intercedes on their behalf. They stand up for the person, defending them, presenting their case. In the Bible the Holy Spirit is referred to as an advocate reminding us that God is not only with us, but God is for us. In legal terms The Holy Spirit argues for the innocence of his client, us. Or if the client is guilty, he explains the circumstances and tries to shed light in a favourable way on the process to mitigate the penalty. He also tries to detect false testimony against us and tell the truth. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us, praying with and for us even when we don’t know how to pray; standing in our place when we just can’t express ourselves. The Spirit is one who works on our behalf, seeking the best for us, steering us from danger, guiding us to safety. The Spirit is pulling for us, cheering for us, encouraging us. He defends us, stands up for us and tells us that we can stand tall and be accepted through Jesus. He reminds us that we are loved unconditionally and that we have been saved by God’s grace and are no longer under condemnation. The Holy Spirit is our advocate.

12th June 2023

James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

As children grow, they are very impressionable and you can guarantee that if parents slip up with bad language or strange reactions, young children will repeat them for everyone to see. The one time you slip with a swear word, they pick it up, shout it out and in our shock, we laugh or get cross, making it even more sure of the reaction and attention children love. As humans we learn how to get a reaction, to get attention and we will use whatever means to provoke a reaction. As Christians we also like to get God’s attention, or the attention of church leaders and we will provoke that reaction by our words or actions. We make a point forcefully, we disagree deliberately and we become a very poor witness for our faith because of our own selfish behaviour. We are so easily led into jealousy, selfishness and disorder because instead of mimicking God we mimic the ways of the world. It is Jesus who is our example, who we should follow and live like, not the world.

11th June 2023

Galatians 6:9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

I work as a priest and Chaplain in the Diocese of Rochester and so whenever I am at diocesan events, I take the opportunity to visit the Cathedral. I enjoy visiting Cathedrals wherever we are, when we are away. I am particularly fond of Llandaff and of St David’s. All these Cathedrals are incredible pieces of engineering, created at times when we did not have the equipment or machinery to build such huge structures and yet they did. These places took years to build and more often than not those who began the work never got to see the completion which could be 150 or 200 years later. We want to see God’s completed work and yet more often than not we will not see it, only maybe when we reach Heaven. We are encouraged by Paul in this letter to the Galatians not to give up, not to grow weary in the work of God because the harvest will come and we will reap the benefits, the completions, the wonderful harvest of God but only if we do not give up our work for the Lord. Hang on in there, God will bless your years of service, even if you don’t always see it.

10th June 2023

Psalm 25:4 Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.

I am not a great fan of SATNAV’s, too many times I have been led astray or taken on a much longer route than necessary. The first one we ever had, when the children were young, had a setting to change voices and one voice, they loved, was a creepy low male voice which said “let me consult my magic book” before starting the route. The point of the SATNAV is to navigate us by satellites from one place to another, particularly if we are not familiar with the place we are going. The way through the journey of life needs to be navigated, especially when we end up in places and experiences we have not had before. God promises to direct us, to guide us through life, not by consulting a magic book but by us using and consulting the Bible and through prayer. God’s navigation of life with us enables us to learn, to respond, to change and to experience life in all it’s fulness. Thankfully, God’s navigation does not make mistakes, does not mislead us or reroute us in the wrong direction. God’s heavenly navigation is the most accurate and best help we will ever need on our journey of life; we just need to trust Him and follow where He leads each and every day.

9th June 2023

Joshua 10:13 So the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.

I do like a nice clock. For our 30th wedding anniversary we had a lovely Mantle clock now ticking away on the window sill. I also have an old travel clock that I was given as a teen when I was going away a lot. Clocks mark the passage of time, they tick, seconds, minutes, hours go by and sometimes they chime or mark each hour with a noise. There is something very sure and steadfast about time, we cannot stop it, we make these odd compensations with leap years so we don’t lose time, we change our clocks twice a year to have summertime, and we all grow old with time and can never return to our youth or to the past. I find the ticking of a clock really reassuring, almost like a heartbeat, my husband though, cannot sleep with a ticking clock nearby. The Bible is full of references to time, the passage of time, the creation and movement of time by God. In the time of Joshua God stopped the Sun in the sky. His control over creation and time made clear and obvious. Even NASA cannot explain this gap of time from around this period in history and yet it is right there in the Bible. God is the God of time, He created it, He controls it. 

8th June 2023

Ephesians 5:1 Follow God’s example, be imitators of God therefore, as dearly loved children.

The word Imitation comes from Latin imitation, meaning to copy. It is a behaviour whereby an individual observes and replicates another's behaviour. As little children each of us learned by imitating our parents and those around us. We imitated our mum’s and dads smile, yawn, laugh, expressions of sadness and anger. We learnt to talk by mimicking those around us, moving our mouths to form words. We didn’t consciously know we were doing it but we did and still do. There is a cycle of behaviour that can come from imitating those we live with, angry, volatile children will often come from homes where parents argue, are angry and volatile themselves. So much of who we are, particularly when we are young, comes from those we imitate, those we live with or are around us as we grow. As imitators of God, therefore, we need to follow His example of love, compassion, forgiveness, justice, and fairness, to offer that each other, to give these things freely as they have been freely given to us. That way our community, our homes and families, all will be better places where everyone can flourish.

7th June 2023

1 Peter 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

Hospitality is a gift, making folk feel welcome, offering a place of comfort, food and drink, good company. We need to be a hospitable church because we worship and serve a hospitable God who welcomes everyone. We need to respect the diversity that we have in the family of humanity, respect the diversity throughout our families, our town, our workplaces and friends, always working towards the glory of God in our midst. Our mission from God, is to glorify His name, and make sure that everyone knows about our God, our faith and our future. We are called to make disciples! We do not undertake this mission alone, we are promised the strength and resources of God so that we can share all that we have found in God, with others, and we can be hospitable to everyone who comes into our churches, into our lives and shine God’s light and love to them.

6th June 2023

Matthew 9:9 Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

When someone asks us to follow them it is usually to help us find the way somewhere. In the Bible the words follow me are two words which change lives, they give Levi hope and a future. Levi, also known as Matthew the Tax collector, had sold his Jewish soul by becoming a Roman tax collector. No one likes tax collectors, even today. The Jews, his own people, despised him for serving the Romans but Levi exploited his insider knowledge of his fellow Jews, knowing who could pay more and adding his large bonus onto their taxes. When Jesus came by one day, Levi would have expected more Jewish contempt. Instead, Jesus saw past what Levi was and invited him to discover God’s abundant, joyful, eternal life. Levi or Matthew, accepted Jesus’ invitation, he left everything behind in a simple, life-transforming step of faith. Following Jesus can transform us too! When we follow, we find the source of holiness, abundance, goodness and grace. We discover what it is to be completely free and forgiven, receiving and sharing his abundant love and blessings. Blessings that are quite simply too precious to keep to ourselves, so we pass on that message from Jesus to others, Follow Him.

5th June 2023

Isaiah 32:18 Then my people will live in a peaceful home, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places.

I love to get away for a few days, a good holiday is really refreshing, but I also really love going home again. As much as getting away from normality is refreshing and recuperating, getting home offers security, familiarity, comfort and ease. People use the phrase home is where the heart is, that as long as we feel we belong somewhere, there is home. Home can be the people, the place, the possessions, even the routine. The early church met in people’s homes, hospitality was shared, they shared all that God had given them because God was their real home, God gave them everything. God is our real home, the place we should always want to be, the place that provides security, safety and blessing, that allows us to be exactly who we are and who God created us to be. This is where our heart should be, at home with God, ready for the eternal home He has given us. It is great to have a holiday but even more special to come home where we should be, where we were created to be in secure dwellings and undisturbed resting places with God.

4th June 2023

Psalm 147:3 He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.

I love old books and I like the feel of holding a book in my hands, flicking through the pages and the words on the page. Having books on kindle or iPad is great but it just doesn’t feel the same. With age and use books can deteriorate, the spine break, pages become dog eared, ripped, even fall out. There is nothing more disappointing that turning over and finding a page missing in the story we are reading. There are some amazing Book binders who can fix old books, they somehow mend and strengthen the old pages with special paper, mix old leather with new to replace the damaged cover, re-stitch the pages and fix the spine. Something old, dogeared and damaged can somehow look beautiful and new again, the old is still there but now strengthened and enhanced. This is exactly what God does with us. He takes our old damaged, dogeared pages of life and fixes them, he re-stitches us, fixes our spines and rips so we become useful again; He enhances and strengthens us. God is a talented book binder, He changes lives, He changes people and takes the broken and makes them whole again.

3rd June 2023

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirt, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.

I wonder if you ever had a comfort blanket or cuddly toy that you took everywhere with you. The dummy given to very young children to suck on is often called a comforter. We use the word comfort to illustrate what we offer to another when they are upset or grieving. What we look for when we need a shoulder to cry on. One who brings comfort is someone who will be there for the tears, offer the hug or cuddle, hold a hand, offer comfort to us in difficult and stressful times. Think for a moment about the second part of the word comfort, which is the word fort. A fort is something we associate with protection, a place built to defend its occupants from those who bring harm. A comforter is one who strengthens, who builds a fortress around us, who gives us courage when the world is tough. We all need a comforter, a strong presence, an encourager and one of the words used to describe the Holy Spirit is comforter. The Holy Spirit becomes a part of who we are, giving us courage, protection, comfort and confidence, and that sustains us in situations that we never thought we could make it through. He reminds us who Jesus is, what He did for us and all that He taught us.

2nd June 2023

Ephesians 1:7 In Jesus we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.  

The other day my husband came home with all the makings of afternoon tea. We went into the garden with sandwiches, scones, jam, cream, little cakes and tea. It was wonderful. We used to go once a year to the Ritz, as a treat, but it is now far too expensive. Taking Afternoon tea in the Ritz involved being very polite, careful, not slurping your tea and eating in a refined manner. We would always dress up and there was a standard expected from all who came. There were people turned away for not having a jacket and tie, for wearing trainers, not shoes. The expectation was very high. The expectation of heaven is very high; as humans we cannot be good enough, perfect enough, to get there in our own strength, and yet all that God has ever wanted is for us to be with Him in Heaven, so how are we made good enough? Jesus’ death on the cross when it was completely undeserved, Jesus’ perfection becomes our perfection, Jesus took our imperfection on himself so that we could be good enough to be with God in heaven. Because of Jesus we are not turned away, our sins are no longer a barrier to our life with God in Heaven. The high expectations of God are met through Jesus who freely invites us to feast with Him in Heaven.

1st June 2023

Matthew 27:45 My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

I grew up singing spirituals in school and at church. These songs were created by the enslaved Africans in the USA who expressed their suffering as slaves at the hands of their so called “Owners” through singing together as they worked. It also expressed their faith, their belief that God was with them and heard them in their suffering. It was a similar experience to that of the ancient community of Israel who when in slavery wrote their emotions to God and put them to music. These special spiritual songs offer a way to be sad without being alone because they are sung in community. They say it is okay to suffer, we know how you feel, we are suffering too, we all are, together. These songs linger in the painful places, they don’t depend on the hyperbole and excitement of praise, but can be slow, drawn out, waiting. The sadness of moaning is expressed in long notes and hums which give voice to pain, together. When Jesus cried out from the cross, He was speaking the words of His enslaved people, in pain He joins in community with those who experience such suffering. He shares that experience with us, in community. 

31st May 2023

John 20:19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews.

What are you afraid of? We all have things which cause us fear and concern, that frighten us however hard we try to overcome it. Fear is a very powerful force, particularly fear of the unknown, the uncertain future. On the day of Pentecost, the disciples were still fearful of what might happen to them, of the authorities, of punishment, even 50 days after the events of Holy Week. By now the fear was pretty hazy and unclear, yet still it had a cumulative effect on the disciples. Jesus broke through their fear with His love, His forgiveness, His generosity. This was in complete contrast with the mean, vindictive persecution of the chief priests and authorities. In the midst of their fear comes love, forgiveness and generosity from Jesus, He offers peace alongside the marks of the crucifixion; giving the Holy Spirit to fill their hearts with faith and love; offering forgiveness to give hope in a broken world. This forgiveness and freedom from fear is contagious, and from this appearance and reassurance hope spreads across the world, across the centuries to us and beyond.

30th May 2023

2 Corinthians 13: 11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Jesus is aware that, when he leaves, the disciples will be on their own without him until the Spirit comes. And they would not see Him physically again. Jesus was returning to the Father and the disciples would be left ‘in the world’. And ‘the world’ can be a scary place. There is a purpose to the disciples and us being in the world. Quite simply, there is a mission to be undertaken and we need to be in the world to undertake that mission, and to complete that mission, we must work together. Unity is absolutely crucial if we are to be effective in mission, so Jesus prays “Protect them so they may be one…” Our unity is an act of witness to the nature of God. We are to be one to reflect the one-ness of God. That oneness in three, the Trinity, contains diversity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; one God but three separate persons, three separate functions, if you like, but all striving towards the same end. And so, in our unity, we actively celebrate our differences but always strive towards the same end together.

29th May 2023

1 Peter 5:9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by others who are in the world.

When we go through an experience, be it illness, grief, depression, rejection it is often those who have been through it who offer the invaluable advice and help. They speak in a way that we recognise, they speak of similar experiences, of marks left on them and of how they found a way through; Here is someone who understands, who has walked where I am walking, who have come out the other side. They show us that we are not the only one to walk this path, to experience this situation and we find that the lie that sin tells us, that no one understands, no one has been there, is really a lie and not worth our attention. We find that the isolation dictated to us does not need to be the way. These people are fellow travellers on the road. These folk give us hope, show us that other endings to the story are possible, they are the ones God sends to help us.

28th May 2023

John 14:16 I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever.

When words are translated from their original, we often don’t get all the meanings that are associated with it. In our Bible many words from Hebrew or Greek struggle to get translated in full for us. One such term is in describing the Holy Spirit. The word in Greek is Paraclete, but this word has multiple meanings. One of those meanings is Companion. This word is used in the New English version. The literal origin of the word companion is “one who eats bread with us”. There is something magical and wonderful about sharing a meal with a friend, it is often over a meal that barriers are broken down, that we come to know each other better. Think of Jesus, on the road to Emmaus, after the resurrection, how he was seemingly a stranger to them until He took the bread and broke it. The one who breaks bread with us, eats with us, shares our common, everyday life; that is one of the roles of the Holy Spirit that God sends to us, to bless us and fill us.

27th May 2023

Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age I am He, and I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and I will save.

I have always loved the poem Footprints, the expression of how when it looks like we face life lone, at the darkest times, that is, in fact, when God picks us up and carries us. We saw a human version of this when Kevin Sinfield picked up his friend Rob Burrows who has Motor Neurone disease and carried him over the line at the Leeds marathon. It is when someone is at their greatest need that a true friend will pick us up and keep us going. God is with us at all times, through the good and the bad, it is easy to see when things are going well, but when life is hard and difficult it can seem that we alone, God promises to always be there and He will always pick us up and carry us when we need it, give us a shoulder to cry on, an arm to lean on, support and love us through thick and thin. “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, when you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you."

26th May 2023

Matthew 28:17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some still doubted.

Can you remember the last time you let someone down, or did wrong by somebody, and then were really worried about owning up to them about it? This feeling of anxiety as we contemplate their reaction and feelings towards us can cause huge stress. When the disciples met the resurrected Jesus, they all knew they had fled when He was arrested, had reacted selfishly and Peter had denied Jesus three times. These were His closest friends, and they abandoned Him when He needed them most. You might expect Jesus to be angry with them, maybe not willing to meet them again so soon, and yet as the risen Lord, meeting with the disciples and re-establishing their relationship is a priority; but how would Jesus respond to these deserters who still lacked faith? He responds with love and generosity. He does not rebuke them, but reassures them, and invites them into God’s mission. He has and continues to give Himself; He promises to be with them as they undertake this work. God’s love and generosity is for all of us, even though we fail, even though we let Him down, even though we are sinners. God still invites us to be part of His family and work even though we keep getting it wrong. All He asks of us is that we try and learn from Him day by day in our Christian lives.

25th May 2023

Matthew 7: 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Why do people knock on the door, or ring the bell? Sometimes it is a delivery, post, a parcel etc. Sometimes it is to say hello, to ask for something or to come to visit. I wonder who has knocked at your door recently? Jesus talked about seeking and finding but also of knocking and having the door opened to us. It is a message for anyone who wants to listen that God is listening, God is ready and willing to help, God is ready to open the door to anyone who is willing to knock on it. What do you need to talk to God about? What do you need to ask Him for? We can approach God about anything, help, wisdom, guidance, healing, provision of food, our struggles, needs and problems. Sometime when we knock on a door the person isn’t in and doesn’t answer, but God is always in and will always answer, we only need to knock and he will open the door to us immediately.

24th May 2023

John14:17b But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

When we leave friends or family, even for a brief period, we tend offer advice, or leave instructions and helps for them. When we leave the boys to look after the cat, we leave everything right in front of them and instructions as to when and how much to feed him. I think the routine goes to pot but at least the cat seems happy and well fed once we return. As Jesus is getting ready to leave the disciples, He tells them that if they love Him, they will keep His commandments and there is also an additional promise: The Father will give you an Advocate, to be with you forever. In other words, He is sending part of Himself, part of the Trinity, to help them and us in living our lives the best we can on Earth. Jesus tells them He is sending the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth who will remind them and us, accompany them and us, and help them and us as we seek to spread the Gospel. The promise to the disciples, and to us, is that in times of uncertainty, confusion, loss and grief, we will have the presence of a comforter, an advocate, a counsellor, a friend, a companion. A gift of God to us, who not only stands alongside us but, lives within in us. With Him we are never alone.

23rd May 2023

John 17:11b Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

Being a parent is a whole series of worrying moments, because our children are ‘in the world’ and ‘the world’ can be a scary place. This parenting image, gives a little glimpse into how Jesus was feeling as he prayed the prayer in John 17. Jesus had spent three years with his disciples. He had lived with them, taught them, encouraged them, chastised them, he had cared for them. They had laughed together, cried together, they had done ministry together, they knew each other intimately. And now the time had arrived when Jesus was about to leave them. He knew his destiny, death, resurrection and then He would ascend to heaven and He would be with the disciples no more. At the Ascension, Jesus went away. He was no longer in the world. He was no longer with his disciples. At the Ascension, Jesus returned to his Father and the disciples would see him no more. This leaving them meant He could now minister not only locally but on a global scale to all Christians everywhere. The world is a metaphor for all that is not of God. A world that does not know Him. Jesus spends time praying for them and us, aware of the dangers that lie ahead. “Holy Father, protect them…”

22nd May 2023

Proverbs 4:3 Depend on the Lord in whatever you do and He will direct your path.

People often speak about being on a path, heading in a certain direction. A Christian has a trifold path which they have to balance. That path is about others, self and God. Many would argue that God is first and therefore the only path but the Bible reminds us that in God eyes we are called to serve others. Jesus came to serve, and we are to be like Him. We also have a duty to ourselves, as children of God we can only serve God and others if we take care of ourselves. We can only serve God and others if we use the abilities and talents God has given us, if we work hard, if we are honest, if we look after our physical and mental health. Many who work for the good of others often neglect themselves in the process, that is not what God requires of us. God does not ask us to hurt ourselves in the path of helping others and serving others. His call is to serve others and Him by giving of our best, looking after ourselves properly and allowing others to minister to us, serve us, just as we serve them. 

21st May 2023

John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

The media, our Politicians and many people around us are to be frank, economical with the truth. There is a lot said about truth being as a person sees it, so my truth may be different to yours. Actually, the factual truth is vital to our society, knowing our leaders, our law enforcement are telling the truth is vital to keep society functioning properly. Jesus reminds the law enforcers of His time that they have become slaves to sin, to wrongdoing and to meaningless activities for their own gain. They are reminded, as are we, that we need releasing from the power of wrongdoing in our lives and to become free. The only way a slave could be set free was if the master or his son released the slave, Jesus, sent by God His father, comes to set us free from sin, from death and hell. He comes as truth, with truth to set us free from the bad stuff that holds us back and makes us selfish and uncaring. We are all capable of ridicule, lies, manipulation, greed etc it is our sinful human nature at work and truth shines a light on that, Jesus’ truth shines a light and sets us free to accept who we are but also who we can be in Jesus, free from sin and set free by truth, the real truth of God.

20th May 2023

Isaiah 35: 10 and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

I am often told that laughing is good for you. I must admit when I have a good laugh it does seem to help. I am not a great fan of comedians because I find a lot of the current trend is to be rude and crass and I find many of them quite unpleasant. Real laughter is about good things, about the comedy in life which occurs every day and does bring real joy. Deep joy, it is often said, can be so deep that people can’t see it. Actually, deep joy bubbles up when we are happy, assured, comfortable and feel safe. With God Joy is about being safe in His unconditional love, knowing our future is secure in Him. A laughter that comes from the fun of life, of being with folk in security, in a welcoming and loving atmosphere. That joy is inside everyone, it is a God given emotion, but so often it is crowded out by life’s issues, by stress and worry. God never intended that for us, He wanted and wants His love to be the source of Joy in our lives every day. If you are struggling to find that joy, talk to God, talk to friends, to your vicar or pastor, let us help you find that joy that God wants for you.

19th May 2023

Ecclesiastes 4:8 Humans are always working and never satisfied.

A myth has circulated for years that says success produces life. The truth of Scripture states, Humans are always working and never satisfied. A recent Wimbledon tennis champion said "The thrill of victory lasts about fifteen minutes, then it’s back to normal and the next win.” Those who love money are never satisfied with the money they have. Have you ever asked yourself, why it is that we have more money than before and yet have less contentment? Too often we think that if we receive a certain promotion, or reach a certain status, or live in a certain area then we will be happy. Interestingly, those people who have reached that position still have not found the secret of a fulfilling life. Jesus reminded us that a thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. These things we are told we want in lives are thieves of our time, of our fulfilled lives. Jesus offers us life in all its fullness. He is the one that protects, cares for, energises and enables us to have that fulfilled life, infinitely and eternally different and better than the life we have now. To be a follower of Jesus, to know who he is and what he means, is to have a new vitality, a new meaning, a new energy, a new purpose, a new significance, a new outlook, a new hope, a new joy, a new fulfilled life.

18th May 2023

Matthew 26:26 Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

The word gospel means good news. The four gospels are the good news of Jesus, God’s saviour who come to rescue all humans. The hero, Jesus, suffers and dies but then He is raised from death, our hero, Jesus, is alive and well. As we read back through the Bible we can’t help but read it in light of that good news. It’s all about this coming Saviour who is going to pay the ultimate sacrifice. It’s all about Jesus, His suffering, His death, and His life-giving resurrection. When we’re frustrated, lost and discouraged that’s exactly what we need to focus on, the Bible, God’s redemption plan and how Jesus defeated death. Jesus knew we would need help and encouragement so we have the Bible, the gospels, but also we have the remembrance of Jesus death and resurrection in the last supper. The breaking of the bread reminds us of His death and resurrection every time we meet together and celebrate communion. In the breaking of the bread eyes are opened and we can recognise who He truly is. This is anamnesis, a remembering, acting out, recollecting our past to put our present and past into context.

17th May 2023

Isaiah 51:11 Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

I have long known and experienced that singing is good for you. The upturn in community choirs and the work on singing and dementia is testimony to this. The evidence is there, singing relieves stress, boosts your immune system, helps to ward off illness, helps with breathing and lung capacity and it can increase pain threshold. In my own life at a couple of very scary times it was singing that got me through. Singing can help with grief and anxiety, it is good for mental health. The exiled were returning to their city and it was the cause of celebration, of singing. They were returning to their life as it should be, as God intended. Sometimes we can be exiled from normal life by stress and anxiety, by feelings of inadequacy or shame but God wants us to return to our lives as they should be, with singing and celebration. Why not try singing, try letting yourself sing out and release some of that stress and anxiety that holds you back.

16th May 2023

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

The shortest verse in the Bible and one of my favourites is John 11:35 Jesus wept. My father told the story of when he was in Sunday School and would announce the collection, the attendance and a Bible verse, this particular Sunday he said, 2 in class, tuppence collection, Jesus Wept. These two simple words, Jesus Wept, offer us the assurance that Jesus experienced the deep and raw emotions we do. In this simple expression He joined Himself to all of us who mourn, all of us who grieve, who cry and weep. Jesus has linked Himself to us throughout all time, with his arms wrapped around us as we weep. Those who mourn He calls us blessed, stands with us, God with us at our lowest point. The tears that come are God given and allow our bodies and souls to release our grief, to release emotions that can imprison us if we do not allow them to be expressed. God promises to wipe the tears from our eyes. God will comfort, God will return to us the joy of life and enable us to live with, and adapt to, life without those we love. God will stand with us at every point of our life, from the best to the worst and everywhere in between.

15th May 2023

Proverbs 16:2 You may believe you are doing right, but the Lord will judge your reasons.

I heard an anecdote where a man asked God why he never won the lottery, God’s reply was for starters you actually need to buy a ticket. Our ideas and plans tend to revolve around us and rarely come out as we expect. All of us are rarely a product of plan A in our lives, we are usually plan B or C or F or G. If I look back now, I am on about plan H. Life changes, interests and commitments change, the world changes, priorities change. We develop and priorities change and so our direction changes. Our potential is God given, our gifts and areas of interest are God given, like the early 20th century sprinter Eric Liddell who would not run on a Sunday, who was under pressure to give up running and become a missionary, he said when I run, I feel God’s pleasure. In other words, God gave me a gift and I need to use that, work at it and be the best I can for God. We have a choice with our gifts and talents, are they just for me, or for others and for God? Is potential for us just about the best job, the most money, the most power and status or is it about how I can serve others with the gifts and talents I have been given? God knows our reasons for the choice we make.

14th May 2023

Proverbs 16:1 People may make plans in their minds, but only the Lord can make them come true.

You have probably heard the phrase…. The best laid plans of mice and men, often just shortened to the best laid plans…. Said when things don’t happen as expected. This comes from a Robbie Burns poem and the line in full is.. The best laid plans of mice and men leave us nought but grief and pain. We are reminded that even the most careful planning doesn’t necessarily ensure success. In the poem it is the carefully well-constructed home of the mouse, which is destroyed and yet the mouse builds back, resilience. The destruction causes pain and grief, but the mouse does not give up and tries again. We make plans, we see a future, we look at our potential and we strive for that, but we can never be sure of success, so many factors can turn our plans upside down. The Bible tells us that when our plans are of God and for God, they will ultimately succeed but that success isn’t always what we think it should be because God’s plans are based on truth, on the bigger picture and on what is best for the world in which we live.

13th May 2023

Zechariah 7:10 Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.

The marginalised of this world, be it by gender, religion, culture, politics, poverty, life choices, age, skin colour are all judged unfairly, written off, disrespected. They experience no mercy, and they see little or no humility from those who marginalise them. We cannot speak of justice, mercy, humility and walking with God if we constantly marginalise others because they are not like us or do not fit into our ideas. Not one of us has more right to justice and fairness than another, not one of us deserves more mercy than another, and not one of us should be anything but humble in our attitude to life and what we achieve. All of us must be just and fair in our dealings with everyone, even those we struggle with and may even dislike. To be people of mercy, to show forgiveness where we can, to realise our own faults and to be people who are humble, who do not brag, who do not belittle others but recognise we are only who we are because of others who support us and teach us. Where we end up in life is not because we are more special than another, we do not deserve any more than another. Being Marginalised is cruel and not what God wants for any of us so we must do our part to stop anyone being marginalised.

12th May 2023

John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

When we look around the world today, there is a lot to be concerned about. There is a lot of unrest, a lot of tension, a lot of violence. Turn on the news on any given day, and you will find something discouraging, something to worry about, or something to get angry about. All of that is why I think that what Jesus did in the upper room is so very important. Remember that when he did this, it was at a very anxious and discouraged point in his ministry. The upper room was a very tense place. A fearful place. And a divided place. In other words, it was a real place. It is here Jesus did this very ordinary, yet extraordinary act. That is where Jesus got down on his hands and knees and washed the disciples feet. That is where Jesus taught them to love one another. And where he issued his new commandment that we should do the same. Love one another. When we see the trouble in our world, and are confronted with the latest disturbing news, what should we do? Love one another. When we have disagreements about what to do about all the challenges our world faces, what should we do? Love one another. When there are people who want to betray us, or deny knowing us, at our moment of deepest need, how should we respond? Love one another. When in doubt, Jesus seems to be teaching us to love one another. We can always do that with His help. 

11th May 2023

John 10:10 "A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy"

Jesus often used the imagery of life around the people of the time drawing from a familiar scene. One of these images were the shepherds on a hillside keeping watch over their sheep. The job of the shepherd was to lead, protect, and feed the sheep. But, unfortunately, as in our day, there were thieves and robbers. They sought to take away the livelihood of Jewish shepherds. Likewise, there are thieves and robbers of our lives, our time. We’ve all heard people say that if only they could take that one special holiday, or retire in luxury, or have a dream fulfilled then they would be living. Many people have done these things yet they still remain empty. Try as we might, in the pursuit of a better life, It takes a bigger thrill, or a bigger event to bring another high. it never lasts. Eventually even workaholics learn that the satisfaction of one job completed is short lived. These thieves masquerade as givers of life, but actually they are dispensers of destruction, disease, and death. God wants us to have a quality of life, a good life, a full life and to not let others or things take that away from us. He offers us protection like the shepherds of old, stopping the thieves from taking and destroying our joy and our life.

10th May 2023

Exodus 34:7a A compassionate God maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin.

Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to relieve the physical, mental, or emotional pains of others and themselves. It is sensitive to the emotional aspects of the suffering of others, based on fairness, justice, and interdependence. The word "compassion" comes from Middle English, and means to suffer with. We have "feeling for another" feeling as they do, walking a mile in their shoes. It was a precursor to the word empathy. In common parlance, active compassion is the desire to alleviate the suffering of another. Compassion involves allowing ourselves to be moved by suffering, and experiencing the motivation to help alleviate and prevent it. This compassion and all that it entails is not just for God or for a new King, but for every individual. To be compassionate means not being selfish, not wanting revenge, being willing to forgive, being willing to listen to all sides of the story and being able to understand that we all make mistakes in life, none of us are perfect. We need to be challenged about our compassion, our forgiveness, our willingness to help others. Be challenged about selfishness and how we can only be a better place if we help each other and serve the common good.

9th May 2021

Galatians 3: 28b For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Joint heirs to the promises of God.

Children love making crowns, decorating them, wearing them and many were made and decorated leading up to the Coronation. King Charles III was crowned and took his place on the throne as son and heir of the previous monarch, the Queen. After Easter Jesus was preparing to take His rightful place with God after His death and resurrection, Jesus had made it clear that He was going to prepare a place for us in Heaven and that He is the way to the Father. The build up to the Coronation took time to prepare and get ready, the build up to Easter and then the ascension of Jesus to His rightful place took time. Charles has his role as an earthly King because he was born as a child of the Monarch, an heir to the throne. Jesus was born as God’s son, human and divine, so that we could all be born children of God, joint heirs of God the Father with Jesus. We are joint heirs with Christ to the promises of God, to eternal life. Our surname is not Windsor but Child of God, that is exactly who we are, joint Heirs with Jesus, Heavenward bound.

8th May 2023

Matthew 22:21 ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’

In the early church some people decided that they no longer needed to follow the rules of the land only God’s rules. They needed reminding that the rules of the land came from God’s rules and needed to be followed. We still live with those who believe that the rules do not apply to them, those who do not pay their tax, those who ignore the law as not being for the wealthy or powerful. We are called to live by the laws of our land, even when they need changing, and some do, urgently. We do have the right to pursue change, as Jesus did, by standing up for the poor, the needy, those treated unfairly, by peaceful protest and proper argument, by choosing our politicians more carefully and holding them to account. We are called to live and work within the parameters of legality and fairness as Jesus did. Write to our MP’s, use social media, speak out and protest, peacefully, as the law reacts badly to us it is brought into focus and examined. The question we must always ask ourselves is What Would Jesus Do? Or WWJD. We must act out of love, justice, fairness and righteousness just as Jesus did, and so make things better and fairer for everyone.

7th May 2023

Exodus 34:6 The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

It will not have escaped your attention that there has been a coronation. If you watched the service, you will have heard what is expected of the king, what he promised. All through were references to the service of his people. He will be given a Bible as a guide to wisdom and service of God. He will declare that people of all faiths will live freely. Key themes of his reign are to be prayer, service, grace, freedom, truth, blessing, gentleness and peace. The reading spoke of healing, deliverance, liberty and freedom. He was referred to as Thy servant Charles who will defend good, act in faithful service of God and for the common good of all and his reign is to be about justice not judgement. This is all common to faith, to God as He is presented in the Bible. A compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. A God who forgives, a God of justice but not of vengeful judgement. Compassion is often seen as a vulnerability, but I would argue it is an incredible strength. Having compassion allows us to see things from other angles, other sides. It allows us to realise that there but for the grace of God goes each of us. 

6th May 2023

Luke 4:8 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.

Today is the Coronation of King Charles III. You may or may not be watching or listening. I had a good look through the order of service to see what is being said and done. What kept coming up was service, service of God and His people. The mention of allowing people of all faiths to live freely, key words that keep coming up are service, grace, freedom, truth, blessing, gentleness and peace. The gospel reading is about healing, deliverance, liberty and freedom and he is referred to as God’s servant Charles who will defend good, rule with justice not judgment, will serve faithfully and be united in service for the common good. These are real declarations and oaths of service to God and people. For a man of such privilege these promises must not be taken lightly and as the people he is promising to serve and defend we should pray for him but also remind him and all those who lead, who have privilege, that true leadership is service, service of God and people first and foremost.

5th May 2023

Matthew 20:26 Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.

How do you measure success? These days it seems that position and wealth are the measurements we use. Parents long for their children to be successful, have a good job, to be top of the class, top of the exams tree, top of their chosen profession. We so easily pander to societies ideas of success instead of desiring that our children and ourselves be good people, people with morals, with compassion who treat others well; we should desire to be people who serve. All clergy in the C of E make promises about service but then all our leaders only come from certain colleges, and backgrounds and can often be a lot less of a servant and more of demanding service from others. Life should be about us making a difference, not by demanding it of others but by being part of it ourselves. We need to make a good difference for the poor, the needy, the immigrant, the disabled, the marginalised. The people who truly serve and should be rewarded are not those with OBE’s, MBE’s, Knighthoods, power and wealth, instead they are people who follow the example of Jesus and serve, they don’t do it for reward, they do it because God’s way is different, they find an incredible peace and satisfaction in serving others and giving instead of taking. However successful we become in the world's view, we must never forget those less fortunate, the ordinary people, the majority who live normal lives and who deserve so much more than they receive.

4th May 2023

Micah 8:8b To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

In Micah the relationship with God is summed up in three requirements. Firstly, do justly, justice is central to life. Justice, fairness, equity should apply to all and no one should escape justice when they have broken the rules made to keep us safe. Justice is also necessary in our relationships, our treatment of each other, our fairness in sports and games. Our honesty in how we react and treat others. The second also impacts on justice, we are to love mercy; to be merciful, find forgiveness. Let’s face it none of us really gets what we deserve. We are all guilty of manipulation, lies, distractions, influences, bad language and thought, bullying, upsetting, hurting, misleading……. None of us are perfect and we all deserve justice and punishment. God’s justice comes with mercy and so should ours. When we are angry and want revenge, justice is not served, there must be mercy, as we are shown mercy by others and by God, we need to show that mercy to others. Thirdly we are to walk humbly with God. Walking with someone means we are together; we support each other and listen. Walking with God is both amazing because God is treating us so well, but also demands us to be worthy of that; to be good people who are humble. Humility makes us those who are willing to help others, to show mercy, to seek justice for the right reasons and to admit our own faults and mistakes.

3rd May 2023

Hebrews 10:25 Do not neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as the Day of the Lord draws near.

Recently I have been to a 75-year anniversary of an organisation I was involved in for years. It was amazing to see people who changed my life after many years, and really sad to find out that some had passed. There were many memories to hear about and messages from friends who could not be there. At the centre of this was the calling to bring God’s good news to young girls. Much was offered to boys 75 years ago but very little was offered to girls, as a result this organisation was born. It was this group who encouraged me to study, to teach and showed me that being a Christian was about fulness of life and was for girls as well as boys. These days it is a smaller event and centres around an activity centre but the story of Jesus is still central with prayer and Bible study along with teaching and testimony. We should never underestimate the power of the gospel, the power of love and being together in a Christian environment. We should never forget those who God has used to bless and teach us and be reminded that we too are used by God to bless and teach others. We will never know the impact we have had on people’s lives.

2nd May 2023

Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

When we are struggling and life gets on top of us, we need reminding of exactly who Jesus is. For the disciples on the Emmaus Road Jesus began to open their eyes to him, starting with the Old Testament. They thought the Messiah was going to be a political liberator but Jesus shows them this isn’t what the Messiah was going to do. He didn’t come to be victorious like a military leader, but to achieve victory another kind of way, through His own suffering. Just like our Messiah suffered so too Christians will suffer. God doesn’t promise us pain free lives. We will go through trial and darkness and sometimes feel alone. It’s actually pretty normal to go through times when we struggle to see Christ because of everything going on in our life, but God promises always to be there. They feel their hearts burn within them when Jesus speaks and the more we understand God’s word the more our hearts will burn for God. Once they and we understand how all of Scripture points to the Messiah needing to suffer and die and rise again it changes everything. They believe! Of course, the resurrection happened because that was the plan all along. As has often been said, we already know the ending and we win.

1st May 2023

Matthew 9: 29 He touched their eyes, and they were opened.

I have a number of blind friends and have taught some partially sighted students over the years. I am always blessed and amazed by their attitude to life. They are very dependent on feel and touch to interact with the world and their hearing is crucial. Many of them have incredible talents in music. There are inventions and gadgets to help with daily life and the audible formats on computers and phones have opened things up even more. There is also a metaphorical side to Jesus’ healing blindness, the blindness humans have towards God and towards others. The blindness we have when it comes to justice, honesty, racism, sexism, religion. Whenever we allow others to get away with violence, misogyny, injustice, lies, racism, homophobia, dishonesty, sexism we are complicit. If we do not stand up for others but walk past feigning ignorance, then we are allowing these things to go unchecked and acting as if we are blind. We cannot be people of God and be blind to the bad things of the world and allow them to go unchallenged.

30th April 2023

John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

How would you fill in the blank: Life is ______? Forrest Gump filled in the blank by saying: "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get." F. Scott Peck began his bestselling book, The Road Less Travelled, by writing, "Life is difficult." Once, a salesman in one last final effort to get me to sign the dotted line said, "Life is not a dress rehearsal, you only get to live it once." Others have described our existence by filling in the blank with: a rat race, a bowl of cherries, amino acids, a series of choices, a pay check, the weekend, a party. Why is it that we reduce life to one thing. For many life is nothing more than the time spent between birth and death. The drudgery of existence. The boring monotony of the routine. The hope of having enough until the end. Have we bought a lie? Has life been stolen from us? The truth is that life is not found in pleasure, performance, possessions, position, or pursuits; it is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus says time and time again that he is the giver of life, the author of life, the way, the truth and the life.

29th April 2023

Micah 6:8a He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?

Requires is a strong word, it means essential, vital, indispensable, necessary, even compulsory. In the last months many of us have had the requirements of Lent and Easter, the things we need to do as part of our celebration and commemoration of these events. As each of us study we have the requirements of the curriculum, what we will need to know for exams, for any entry to university there will be the requirements of grades and certain personal traits, and there are always the requirements for jobs and applications. Being required to do things is part of life. It is vital to relationships as well, our relationship with our God, with our family and friends, requires certain things. God’s requiring of us to do things is not a heavy-handed restriction, but rather an insistence on things that make life better for everyone, justice, mercy and humility. Let’s face it if we all were properly just, were merciful to each other and were humble then this world would be a much better place for everyone.

28th April 2023

John 21: 12a Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In most houses it is a hurried affair with time being of the essence before work and school. When life is not a rush it can be a relaxed time with favourites and good company. I love breakfast on a day off, often hot croissant, butter, jam and there are the hotel stays where breakfast is Full English. Coming together around food is natural and enjoyable. You can be yourself, enjoy company and just be together. After losing Jesus the disciples go back to what they know, fishing, and Jesus meets them where they are for breakfast. A BBQ on the beach with fresh fish and bread. Coming together around food, being themselves and realising that once again Jesus is right there in the centre, enjoying their company and reminding them of the future. We meet together around food every time we take communion and Jesus is right there at the centre. We come together around food and can be ourselves with each other and with Jesus.

27th April 2023

Luke 24:19 About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.”

Sometimes we lose sight of who Jesus is, when life is difficult and problems seem insurmountable. Even the disciples and followers of Jesus lost hope after the crucifixion. They no longer saw Jesus as the “Messiah” or “Christ.” They lost faith. They were finding it too hard to believe. It seems too dark. Jesus is dead so He must have just been a prophet like the prophets of old who died. He can’t possibly be the Messiah who was supposed to come and liberate his people, Jesus is dead. When things get dark in our life, when we lose our jobs or a loved one dies or a tragedy happens, and our hearts don’t sense Christ, it’s easy to say, “Maybe he’s not God, maybe Jesus is not as powerful as I thought.” But they were wrong and so are we if we think that way. When we’re struggling, maybe fatigued or frustrated, and can’t see Jesus and can only think of everything wrong with our lives, we should pause and check our memories. Jesus has done good things for us and blessed us in the past. If He has been so good to us for years and years, why would He would stop now? When you can’t see Jesus, look to the Scriptures. When you can’t see what Jesus is doing in your life or can’t hear Him speaking to you, look to the Scriptures. Go to your Bible. See Him there. Hear Him there. As we read Scripture, the Holy Spirit works in us.

26th April 2023

John 15:12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

There is a story told about the disciple, John. Legend has it, that he is the only one of the twelve disciples who died of old age. In his later years, when John had become old and frail, he was the only person still living who had actually walked with Jesus in his earthly ministry; and so, his church community held him in very high esteem. The story goes that whenever he was in good enough health to come to worship, they would invite him to come to the front of the gathered congregation, and share a word with them. And he would walk to the front, and look at the people gathered and say to them, “Children, love one another … love one another … love one another.” And he would return to his seat. Every time, the same message: Love one another. That, for John, was what he learned from Jesus. John obviously learned more than that. He wrote a gospel and several letters that are included in our New Testament. But what was most important was this simple command from Jesus to love another. Then, and now, this command to love one another can serve as our North Star, guiding us when we get lost or confused, and re-orienting us to the way in which we should live. And now, today, this is no less important than it has ever been. If John were here today, I suspect he would say the same thing to us. And if Jesus were here, wouldn’t he say the same? Love one another.

25th April 2023

Proverbs 21:21 Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honour.

The word Kind is not used too often these days, it seems to have developed a weak connotation and be associated with the leftie woke which I am proudly a part of. So, how kind are you? If you look at the last few days can you remember any kindness you have shown? Let it bless you as you remember it and let it encourage you to keep on being kind. There are some who look for recognition of their kindness, but for most of us kindness, just being kind, blesses us as well as the those we are kind to and makes the world a much better place to live in for all of us. Every one of us has the ability to be kind but many choose not to be. Many of our politicians seem to have forgotten kindness and see it as a weakness. Yet kindness brings life, righteousness and honour. That is pretty rewarding! We all need to think of ways we can show kindness and encourage others to do the same. 

24th April 2023

Luke 24:15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.

Have you ever had that experience when you can’t see something and yet it’s right in front of you? We look in the fridge for something and just can’t see it, or the book we left on the side just an hour ago. How about when you look for God but can’t sense his presence? We look for him, and we’re told “he’s right there!” but we just can’t see him for ourselves. When we can’t see God or sense Christ’s presence what should we do? This is the place where some of Jesus’ followers found themselves the Sunday after his crucifixion. The last time they saw Jesus he was dead. They thought He was never coming back. They’re sad and depressed. They’ve heard word that Jesus’ body wasn’t in the tomb and that angels had told them Jesus is alive. They are not sure what to believe and just feel more confusion and darkness. It’s time for them to go home after Passover. These two friends are walking home from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. It’s about 7 miles. They’re talking about the crucifixion and empty tomb, Jesus himself comes up to them and begins to walk alongside them. They don’t recognise Him. God wants them and us to see Jesus in a different way. As the two travellers listen to Jesus, they begin to realise they’ve missed something. Jesus had come to liberate his people, but not as a mighty warrior, but as a sacrificial lamb. Now they and we are ready to see Him for who He really is.

23rd April 2023

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

When things are difficult, nothing seems to be going well and we are under pressure we easily forget the basics of life that God loves us, sent His son to save us and commands us to love one another. No matter what else is going on in our lives, we can still love one another. At times, it won’t seem enough and we will want to do more but life is complicated; this world is complicated. And there are many times when we will be tempted to find another answer when the right and best answer is the one we already know that God is love and we must love one another. It is when we are tempted to find another answer that it is important to remember that in all the chaos, confusion, conflict, and unrest swirling around the last days of Jesus time on earth, remember how Jesus responded to all of that. He responded by loving those he was with, in the midst of this awful time He still loved. The lesson is so clear, when in doubt, love another. A simple command, but one that can guide us through whatever confusion and chaos we might experience in this world. 

22nd April 2023

Job 2:13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Friendship is one of life’s most wonderful gifts. Today we often talk about making a friend for life. Someone who will always be in your circle, who you can pick up with at any time, even after a long gap. Someone who will have your back, support you, help you no matter what. 30 years ago today Stephen Lawrence was murdered in a racially motivated attack in Eltham. I have heard his mum, Doreen Lawrence, speak on many occasions and something she has often commented on was those who sat with her, were just there, support, concern, compassion, empathy in those days and weeks after Stephen’s murder. People who did not comment, judge, ridicule or justify events, but were just there. Making meals for the family, washing up, doing the tasks that a grieving a family could not do. They were true friends who were just there for them. Jobs friends go to comfort him, they see how awful his situation is and they mourn with him, they weep, tear their clothes which was a traditional mourning ritual as well as sprinkling dust upon themselves. They identify with Job and his grief as his friends, but then they sit with him, they don’t comment, they don’t pontificate or offer their opinion, instead they sit with him. It is a phrase used a lot in my calling as a priest, to sit with those in grief, to sit with those who are sick, who are alone, who are hurting and lost. Do not worry about what needs to be said, or saying the wrong thing, but be a friend through bad and good. Sometimes doing practical things to help, stepping in and stepping up when we are needed. After all we are reminded in the Bible that a true friend is like a priceless treasure. 

21st April 2023

John 20:18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what he had said to her.

The story of Mary Magdalene on the first Easter morning is a wonderful one. Here is the first messenger of the gospel, go and tell and she does. Her journey to the tomb was one of despair, pain, hurt and yet she comes in the early morning to be near her Lord, His tomb. The stone is rolled away, no body, where is He? Her first thought is not to remember the teaching on the resurrection, or her brother’s own resurrection, in her sorrow she cannot muster anything but despair. She tells the disciples who come to look and go away again. She left alone in her grief asks who she thinks is a gardener where Jesus body is, in this moment everything changes, He uses her name, no one else speaks it like that, only Jesus. He is there, she holds on, never wanting to let go and His request is to let Him go, go and tell, let them all know what you know. Mary is the first to tell of Jesus resurrection, before the Disciples, she proclaims His rising, she is the first Evangelist. We too, are called, our name is spoken by the risen Christ, only He can speak it in such a way. We are called to go and tell, even if they don’t believe, even if they criticise or try to ruin our reputation, we are called to go and tell, as Mary did.

20th April 2023

Matthew 28:5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said He would.”

The season of Easter lasts 50 days, in that time the liturgy offers many Hallelujahs, Christ is Risen within our worship. It can be hard to hold onto that joy of Easter, quite often we move on very quickly from Joy back to normality. Easter joy can be quite illusive, much as Jesus was after the resurrection, once he was seen and spoken with, he was again gone, let loose to bring life. Easter is the centre of our faith, it is when the chains of death are broken, when we are no longer held prisoner to death and hell. It is the resurrection that should shape us as Christians, that empty tomb, the stone rolled away, the body gone and then the vision of Jesus, the meetings, the discussions, the dynamic has changed for the disciples, and it does for us. We are Easter People, the church gives 50 days for Easter, our whole lives should be Easter, shaped by the resurrection and eternal life. We are Easter People, and we need to live like it, even when it is hard, the hurt comes, the pressures build and life seems a real chore, we are still Easter People and Jesus resurrection makes a difference to every moment of every day. Hallelujah! 

19th April 2023

John 20:19b Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!

How quickly Easter goes from our minds and we move on to the next festival. Just one week after the resurrection the Disciples were locked away, unable to function, not living in the resurrection power of Jesus. What about us? The locked places of our lives are always more about what is going on inside of us than around us. What are the closed places of your life? What keeps you in the tomb? Maybe, like the disciples, it is fear. Maybe it is questions, disbelief, or the conditions we place on our faith. Perhaps it is sorrow and loss. Maybe the wounds are so deep it does not seem worth the risk to step outside. For others it may be anger and resentment. Some seem unable or unwilling to open up to new ideas, possibilities, and change. Jesus is always ready to enter the locked places of our lives. Standing among us he offers peace and breathes new life into us. He doesn’t’t open the door for us but he gives us all we need so that we might open our doors to a new life, a new creation, a new way of being. This is happening all the time. Christ stands among his people saying, “Peace be with you,” breathing life into what looks lifeless making a resurrection difference in whatever circumstances we are in.

18th April 2023

Matthew 27:3-4 Judas, the one who betrayed him, realised that Jesus was doomed. Overcome with remorse, he gave back the thirty silver coins to the high priests, saying, “I've sinned. I've betrayed an innocent man.”

I have a bit of a soft spot for the underdog. Knowing my own ability to mess up hugely, I sympathise when others do. I have a soft spot for Judas and think the church has treated him unfairly over the years. I am glad to say many now recognise there is more to his story than just condemnation and the remorse Judas showed is exactly what we are called to show when we recognise and admit we are wrong and have caused hurt and distress to others. I fully expect to see Judas in Heaven. Have you ever done something really bad and then regretted it afterwards? We all do it no matter how wonderful and wise we think we are. We need to challenge ourselves and ask ourselves why it is much better to own up than to keep quiet about what we have done. For Judas it was very much about forgiving himself. The judgement of others, the beliefs of leaders and people, traditions, may make us think we are not worthy of forgiveness, but Actually God is very clear that the penitent sinner is forgiven, no one is beyond God’s love. We need to accept God’s incredible love and forgiveness of us and make forgiveness of self a priority.

17th April 2023

Matthew 26:69-70 A servant girl came up to Peter and said,“ You were with Jesus the Galilean.” In front of everybody there, Peter denied it: “I don't know what you’re talking about.”

We all like to think that when push comes to shove we will stand up for what we believe in, we will defend a friend even if we might be put in harm’s way. When Jesus was arrested, then put on trial, it was his closest friends who let him down. Peter is accused of being with Jesus and he quite forcefully denies it, not just once but three times. His Lord, the one he promised to die for, in the face of accusation and fear for his own life he denies Jesus. Have you ever let your friends down? We all do it at some point, it may not be as awful as this, but life is a struggle. Eventually Peter gets to make it right with Jesus, when we let someone down, we need to say sorry and hope we can mend the relationship before it is too late. One of the chief messages and achievements of Easter is it offers us hope. Through Jesus death and resurrection, the hope of forgiveness, of eternal life is given to us. Our part in the story is to admit our wrongdoing, accept our faults and be forgiven by God. Jesus forgave Peter, Jesus forgives us, but we do need to admit our faults and say sorry.

16th April 2023

John 20:19 The Disciples were together; the door was locked and Jesus came among them.

We all have those days when we prefer to just stay in bed, pull the covers over our head, and close out the world. Some days it seems easier and safer to lock the doors of our house and avoid the circumstances and people of our lives. Sometimes we just want to run away, hide, and not deal with the reality of our lives. For some of 2020 and 2021 we had to do just that through Government imposed lockdown. But every time we shut the doors of our life, our mind, or our heart we imprison ourselves. For every person, event, or idea we lock out, regardless of the reason, we lock ourselves in. That’s what happened to the disciples after Jesus Crucifixion. The disciples are gathered in the house, the doors are locked with fear. They are in lockdown. A week later they are in the same place. It is the same house, the same walls, the same closed doors, the same locks. Nothing much has changed. Jesus’ tomb is open and empty but the disciples’ house is closed and the doors locked tight. The house has become their tomb. Jesus is on the loose and the disciples are bound in fear. The disciples have separated themselves and their lives from the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. Their doors of faith have been closed. What about us? Where are we living? In the freedom and joy of resurrection or behind locked doors.

15th April 2023

Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

I get quite bashful about my birthday. I don’t make a fuss, I don’t tell people and apart from the family and I don’t expect any recognition. This comes from a place of disappointment. At the special birthdays in my life I have been quite let down. On these special occasions I have had to organise my own parties, cater them, set them up because no one else thought it was important enough. I have organised parties and events for others, for my family and make a fuss of them, but have not seen that myself. As a result, I play it down and hope that if I have no expectation then I won’t have any disappointment. It doesn’t really work. I know so many of us suffer from disappointment, feel let down by those we care for and love but also by organisations, societies, governments, even our religions and sometimes even God. Being let down is a human characteristic, because we are human we are flawed, because we are flawed, we forget, we make errors of judgement, we fail others. With God it is completely different, He is not human, is not flawed and is always in front, behind, next to, over and under us. We are completely surrounded by God’s love and even when we feel forgotten, we are encircled by the arms of God, and He does not forsake us or fail us or disappoint us.

14th April 2023

Proverbs 10:9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.

I wonder if you have been accused of something you did not do? In my life I have had it happen a few times, and it has meant the end of friendships and trust. I know someone who is currently being investigated by HMRC for the supposed underpayment of a few pounds tax, so far it has taken nearly a year and caused terrible stress and upset. In comparison to a Chancellor who has underpaid millions and been let off scot-free, or MP’s hiding millions off shore to avoid tax, it is very unfair to have someone having their life turned upside down for literally a few pounds, a common mistake that is made annually by many and by HMRC themselves. Being accused of something when you are not wealthy, when you cannot take on a huge organisation and are left vulnerable is an awful situation and one that is becoming more common in our country. God is not happy with the exploitation of the vulnerable, or the exploitation of the poor by the rich, or those who act illegally and get away with it because of their position or wealth. We are called to be honest and we must be so, unfortunately that does not guarantee we won’t be falsely accused, of course if we are honest the truth will out and we will be exonerated. God is on our side and He will always fight our corner.

13th April 2023

Hebrews 2:17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

This winter has been the coldest for me that I can remember. The reason being we live in a cold vicarage, single brick skin and with energy costs so high we have not had the heating on very much. Even now as the temperature is going up the vicarage is still cold, colder inside than out now. I feel the cold anyway and so I have spent 6 months being cold, it affects me both physically and mentally, the church is also cold with restricted heating finances. If I am cold, imagine the elderly, the disabled, the one parent families, the homeless who have spent a very cold winter and also faced huge food inflation and trying to look after themselves and families. Meanwhile our MP’s pocket more than our wages or benefits to pay for their heating bills and food bills. They have no reason to change things because they do not suffer the issues. This is the very reason God came to earth, to live as we do, to experience the problems we experience, to live as a normal human without privilege, without wealth, subject to poverty, discrimination, poor housing, lack of food, He understands because He lived as we do. Those who supposedly serve us need to experience things as we do or else nothing will ever change for the better of all.

12th April 2023

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

In the gospels the women came to anoint and bury Jesus and found an empty tomb. They ran to tell the disciples to announce the astounding news. It was a difficult time for everyone. A terrible time. Jesus crucified! The death of all their hopes and dreams, and the shame that they had run away, leaving him to suffer and die alone… except, of course, for his mother and few female friends. And yet in his final agony, Jesus was heard to say from the cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” It was to be his final gesture of self-sacrificing love and service to us. A poet once wrote about the two arms of God: the right arm of Justice, and Justice must be served, and the left arm of Mercy, Mercy, that forgives. And when Jesus cries out on the cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,” His Father is left no choice, for His Son has asked for mercy and for forgiveness for us all. In this act Jesus comes to stay. He comes to share his life with ours, not to teach us how to die and leave us, but how to live and love in this often sad and weary world. That is why the Father gives His only Son into our hands, that we might never be alone again, without his loving care. Jesus knows our aches and pains and all our sorrows too, our need to love and to be loved, to reach out and care for one another as he himself has always cared for us.

11th April 2023

Lamentations 3:22&23 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Sometimes we think and feel like God’s promised faithfulness has disappeared. On bad days we wonder where is God’s steadfast love today? Where are His never-ending mercies and yet we know that He is there, time and again He has been there for us and that doesn’t change on a bad day. In the words of the creed, we declare our belief in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who was crucified, died and was buried and He descended into hell. Holy Saturday is when Christ descends into hell, but on any given day of our life He is there breaking the bonds of death, and setting the captives free, being faithful. Holy Saturday is the day death and Hades trembled in fear and were defeated. At the presence of Christ, the trembling and quaking of Hades became the contractions that brought birth to our new life. The tomb of Holy Saturday became the womb of Easter Sunday. That is the promise hidden deep within every tomb. The promise of our God as Christ defeats death, wins back those in the depths of hell, destroys Satan’s power over death and clears our way to eternal life, knowing we will rise with Jesus as He rises from the tomb taking us with Him.

10th April 2023

Lamentations 3:7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains.

Easter is not only a story about Jesus. It is a story about the deaths and losses of our lives. We have all been there. Some still are. On Holy Saturday the church is still empty and barren. There’s not much to say or see on this day. It is mostly a day of silence, sitting, and waiting. That’s how it is on the morning after you receive the news. That’s how it is the morning after you see the body. That’s how it is the morning after the burial. Every Good Friday is followed by a Holy Saturday. You wake up and realise that last night’s nightmare wasn’t just a bad dream. It is the reality and truth of today’s life. We are walled in and cannot escape. We are bound in chains. We call and cry for help but it seems our prayer is shut out. We are homeless. There is nothing but the tomb. We sit and wait in the hell of our life. So where is God? The only place He could be; in hell, with you and with me. That’s where the Lord’s steadfast love is on Holy Saturday. That’s where his never-ending mercies are today. That’s where the Lord’s great faithfulness is on the morning after. Holy Saturday is when Christ descends into the hell of our life, breaking the bonds of death, and setting the captives free. Holy Saturday is the day death and Hades’ tremble in fear, and regret ever having tried to take captive the author and creator of life.

9th April 2023 Easter Sunday

John 20:17 But go find my disciples and tell them, ‘I am risen and am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’

Easter is about love, about hope, about new life. Easter Eggs come from the new life aspect of faith, Jesus emerging from the tomb. Chocolate from the treats now eaten after abstinence during Lent. For Christians Easter is the key to their salvation. Easter became a major festival far earlier than Christmas. What is Easter about for you? A holiday, a chocolate feast, time for shopping, time for sleeping, some good TV? Does it even cross your radar? Our country revolves much of its holiday practices around Christian festivals. Many have tried to call them something different. For some this is the spring break and Easter eggs are just a different form of chocolate treat. For those who have a Christian faith we will have commemorated Palm Sunday and Jesus popularity, we then walk through Holy Week, Jesus arrest and crucifixion on Good Friday or God Friday, arriving at Easter Sunday and the celebration of His resurrection, His defeat of death. Whatever your religious outlook, this festival is important to millions and is a key celebration. May I encourage you to think a little deeper about where the traditions and ideas come from, why we have this holiday and deepen your respect for those who this is a key celebration of faith. Have a wonderful Easter, and enjoy the wonders that Easter offers you.

8th April 2023

John13:15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

There is always a lot going on in Holy Week, and a major part of it is having our sins forgiven. We hear the account of the Passover, the institution of the Lord’s Supper or Communion. We strip the altar bear, we get ready for the Stations of the Cross, reflecting on the cross and crucifixion, paying homage to our Lord’s cross, we reflect on the wilderness of Holy Saturday until we will gather on Sunday morning to celebrate the greatest miracle of them all. Resurrection. There is a lot going on and it would be easy to get distracted from what is at the heart of it all. LOVE, God’s love for us, which Jesus embodies. God’s freely given grace to us and our Lord’s commandment to share that love and grace with one another. If you want a picture of that love, an example of what it might look like, then picture the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, down on his hands and knees, washing feet, then sweating blood as he was praying in the garden, then being beaten, tortured, falsely accused and finally crucified so that we can find our way back to God again.

7th April 2023

John 13:4 Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

There was a lot going on that Passover night, it was not the tranquil, holy scene that we often see pictured on those famous paintings of the Last Supper. And it makes what Jesus did that night all the more remarkable. During supper, knowing all that was to come, Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet. That simple act was Jesus’ response to all the chaos and confusion and conflict swirling around him; all the danger, all the suffering that he knew was coming. The betrayal by Judas. The denial by Peter. The crowds shouting for him to be crucified. The religious and political leaders deriding him right up to his death. All of that was coming, and Jesus knew it. And his response to all of that was the simplest, most humble, least practical, most ordinary act of love and kindness that you could possibly imagine. And he did it, he says, to teach his disciples, and to teach us, what is more important than anything else in the world. He did it to teach us that at the end of the day, what really matters in this chaotic, crazy life is love. To love each other as Jesus loved us is all that really matters. 

6th April 2023

JOHN 13:1 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

On the first Maundy Thursday in the upper room, in the garden, on trial, and into Good Friday and the cross, we find out what it means for Jesus to love them and us to the end. Think about what it would have been like to be in the upper room with Jesus on that first Maundy Thursday. Jesus had entered Jerusalem in triumph, but then driven the moneychangers out of the Temple, and angered the chief priests and religious leaders in that holy city. They are looking for a way to kill Jesus. He knows it, and his disciples know it. They may have found a safe haven in that upper room, but there is no safety outside those four walls. In fact, Jesus is now preparing his disciples for his death, and even telling them that one of his disciples, Judas, would betray him. Just hours before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus has gathered his disciples together in this room. If we were there with him, we might wonder why. Why has he gathered us here? Is it to hide from danger? Is it to plan the next move? And what is the next move? Within 24 hours Jesus will have been crucified and these disciples completely lost. Surely this can’t be the end! As we move through the next few days we go from the lowest to the highest point and at times we too, will be lost, but we will find our way again as God’s plan comes to fruition in Jesus.

5th April 2023

John 20:15b&16 “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” “Mary!” Jesus said.

Holy week is a time of reflection, a time to remember and observe various holy events. To remember Judas and his betrayal, Peter and his betrayal and how easy it is to be turned from the path we were adamant we would take no matter what. The only one who has not turned from His path is Jesus, through many engagements, knowledge of his future suffering, agony in the garden, betrayal, pain and suffering He still keeps going. Determined to do God’s will and so make the future right for all. When the cross comes, he is taunted, falsely accused, tortured and dies a traitor’s death. The promise has always been a resurrection and it comes on the Sunday. A grieving friend is looking for Him, in a tomb, but the body is gone. Does she dare hope in the resurrection or is it a cruel joke. Her Lord uses her name, and she realises it is Him. He is risen. That defeat of death opens the door to the resurrection and eternal life promised by God to His people all through their history. He calls her by name, just as He does each of us. As we walk through Holy week may we hear Jesus call our name and know His resurrection promise.

4th April 2023

John 3:17 God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, by Him, should be saved.

The Easter Story is about Grace. Grace is something which is freely given but totally undeserved. Humans are totally undeserving of God’s love but yet it is freely given. Our behaviour, our wrongdoing, our cruelty deserves punishment but God chooses to take that punishment on himself through His own Son Jesus. Wrongdoing, Evil, has to be punished by death, death must be defeated for humans to be put right with God. I love CS Lewis, a man with an enormous brain, an Oxford and Cambridge lecturer, who manages to explain God’s plan through Children’s books. In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, one of the children, Edmund, succumbs to the evil lies of the White Witch, as a result he has to be punished by death; for him to be saved, someone else must freely die in his place. Aslan, the Lion, offers himself and is sacrificed and the White Witch now thinks she has won and can rule, her evil unhindered. Aslan rises from death and explains to the children about the deeper magic, that is that when someone without sin or wrongdoing offers themself freely in the place of another then death works backwards, is defeated, the price is paid. Our price is paid was paid in Jesus. His freely given offering of Himself defeats death and pays the price for all. This is grace!! We do not deserve what Christ has done but he has done it anyway, out of love. That is grace. Easter is grace for us, forgiveness, freedom from guilt. We do not deserve it but we are freely given it. 

3rd April 2023

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

We are currently in Ramadan also in Lent and Holy Week, Passover and Easter this week. For all of us who have a religious faith it is part of our life, one does not happen without the other. Be it the daily prayers we partake in, or the special foods we eat or the fasting, the festivals we celebrate and how our faith is reflected in the way we live, how we treat others, the respect we show, the compassion and care we reflect. Life and faith sit in balance with each other. St Paul tells us faith is what we hope for rather than what we actually see. In other words, faith means a risk. Believing that God will provide as we need, will sort out the issues, will care for us in each situation, will provide the path, but having to step out in faith, in hope and often having to wait for the outcome of that step of faith. Within the Indiana Jones Last Crusade film, where they are seeking the Holy Grail, the cup Jesus drank from at the Last Supper, they meet various challenges, one is the leap or step of faith. There is a huge chasm with apparently no way across, you step out and is there a bridge or will you just fall. Indiana Jones being a practical fellow throws some dust and sure enough there is a bridge, a safe crossing point. Do you argue that faith provided the bridge or that it was there all along and faith provided the way to see it. Either way faith was that something that prompted the action. The path is there, we need the faith to step out. Life and faith are intertwined. Faith asks for loyalty, and a belief and trust in God to stand by us at all times as we play our part. All of this allows us to separate our life from the selfish, unjust, uncompassionate world order that supports only the rich and powerful and seeks the better way for everyone. Through faith and by faith the heroes and heroines of our religions lived their lives, some we read their wonderful stories passed down over centuries, but most, like us, our stories will never be told and yet we are still those who live by faith, who pass on the baton to those who come after us, who work within our faith to change the world, to change people’s lives for the better. 

2nd April 2023

Matthew 21:5 “Say to Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

In a few weeks King Charles will have his coronation and people will line the streets cheering and clapping and waving flags. Imagine you are going to have a visit from the new King. How would you react? Your neighbours, your street? There will be crowds that are lining the streets as he passes by, waving flags, making noise, and shouting. As the parade moves on down the street, the sound of the band playing and people shouting fades away in the distance. It is over. The celebration is over. That was very much like a scene that took place in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. King Jesus was coming to their city. People lined the streets. Some people walked in front of the king and some walked behind him, this King rode on the back of a small donkey. As he rode through the streets of the city, the crowds picked up anything they could find, branches from the trees, from the deliveries, from the market stalls; They waved palm branches, they shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!” They shouted, “Hosanna in the highest heaven!" Today is Palm Sunday. Today we celebrate the entry of King Jesus into Jerusalem. It was a day that marked the beginning of an incredible week. A week that would see Jesus cheered, then arrested, tried, condemned, and crucified. But as that week came to an end, another week began just as the previous week had begun...with a celebration.

1st April 2023

Matthew 15:27 She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’

In all societies there are groups of people who do not get on. The are cultures and religions that speak against each other and those who are condemned by others. The Jews and Gentiles were complete opposites. In the early church they disagreed on so much. Paul was clear that even the gentiles who did not know God, even they do know good from evil. Jesus’ mission is to seek the lost sheep of Israel, to bring the Jews back on track, to allow both Jew and Gentile to find their place in God’s kingdom and have Jesus as saviour. Jesus is for everyone, no matter their background, but there is an initial priority for God’s chosen people. It is actually a gentile woman, supposedly without faith, who actually shows more faith than the Jews who are God’s chosen ones. Jesus commission to His disciples was to go and make disciples of all nations, all people’s, cultures, genders, skin colours and so on. Being a Christian is not about being possessive of what we have for ourselves, but to be open in offering everything God offers us to others, no matter their background.  

31st March 2023

Matthew 22:34 The Pharisees learned that Jesus had made the Sadducees look so foolish that they stopped trying to argue with him.

As Lent moves swiftly towards Easter we arrive at Palm Sunday and Holy Week, the week before Easter. Jesus’ persecutors finally moved into capture, torture and crucify Him. From being Son of David and hero, within a week it is crucify Him and zero! When you want to discredit someone, even the most gentle, caring healer, you twist and turn the outcomes of the good until your drip, drip of negativity fuels the fires of the fascist few who will act. Our own government manages to be exposed as liars, cheats, charlatans but with the complicit media is able to turn the fury onto the minority of innocent people rather than on themselves. Whilst pocketing huge amounts of money they scorn the poor and needy, they punish the ordinary people taking more and more away while giving themselves better tax breaks and loop holes, second jobs, huge expenses, subsidised food and drink, all which takes much needed money from the common public purse which should benefit all, not just the rich. Governments govern with our permission, our support, therefore if we do nothing then the fraud and dishonesty increases. Jesus was never prepared to just do nothing. He made a stand, He stood up for the poor, the needy, the migrant, the ordinary people, and He changed the world. What about us? Are we prepared to make a stand or just let it continue and be complicit.

30th March 2023

Luke 11:18a If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?

When something does not go our way or does not fit our narrative, we will look for an excuse. Jesus was accused of being from the Devil because He did not fit the narrative of the spiritual leaders of the time. Jesus is realistic about the devil who has enough trouble winning against God so pretending to be good, doing good for people to bring them down is not his style. We cannot be half one thing and half another. We are either for God, believing, acting and working for good or we are not. If we are not for God, we’re against Him. Once we allow the Devil in, however small that might be, it gets bigger. The small lie soon grows, the small borrow and never return happens more frequently. The more we believe we are right, the more we believe others are wrong and the less compassion and love we have, the more dictatorial and possessive we become. Blessed are those who hear God’s word and keep it, not keep it sometimes, not keep it for a few moments, but keep God’s truth and honesty to the best of our ability every day, and do that in His strength. We all make mistakes, but as long as we try our best before God that is all He requires of us.

29th March 2023

Ephesians 1:22-23 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over the church, which is his body.

Did you know that going to church is good for you? It is also good for our children. Research shows that people who regularly attend church report stronger social support networks, they lead healthier and even longer lives. They find a better sense of self value and connect better with family and friends. Gratitude and forgiveness also feature highly in the benefits of going to church. In a very real and physical way, Church is literally good for your physical, spiritual and mental health. Going to church helps people live, it helps our sense of belonging and our sense of wellbeing. It allows us to express our feelings and emotions in a safe space. God’s intention from the beginning was that we should live in community, in relationship with one another and with Him. The word church means an assembly of people, people who come together, to be together, to share together. As we come together with God in church as the body of Christ, we grow stronger together.

28th March 2023

Matthew 4:1 Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert. He was taken there to be tempted by the devil.

Life’s experiences will always range between the mountain top and the valley, often finding ourselves in desert places of difficult and barren times. Deserts are cold at night, incredibly hot in the day, harsh, sandy, constantly changing with high winds. In Bible times desert areas were not far from the towns and were places to be alone, to seek quiet and contemplation. Jesus goes into the desert after His baptism, to prepare for His ministry, to have time away. Here he is tempted and challenged. Early desert fathers and mothers copied this and lived in the desert as hermits, contemplating, developing wisdom and people went to them for advice and sat with them as they communed with God. Priests are sent away before their ordination to prepare, clergy are required to take regular retreats where they are quiet, contemplate, pray, reflect, spend time with God without the pressures of the world. Lent offers us a time to set ourselves apart, to pray more, read the Bible more, be with God and let Him challenge us, work in us and bless us. The devil will challenge us as he did Jesus, he will try to take this time from us, busy us, interrupt us but we must stand strong in God, remind ourselves of God’s provision and love for us, take time with God and grow in Him.

27th March 2023

John 6:5 Jesus looked up and saw a crowd of people coming toward him. He said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough bread for all these people to eat?”

Food inflation has gone up again, now 18%, people cutting their shopping, getting so much less for our money, more basic ranges being offered but sell out so quickly. Our school children are hungry, £3 is all you are entitled to for a free meal and that gets about three pasta twists, some sauce, a lettuce leaf and an apple. Reforms have failed, government have cut funding, Food bank usage has increased massively but donations have dropped. Many who gave generously are now having to turn to them for help just to survive. Jesus has 5000 in need of food. How do you feed them? Five loaves and two fish are offered. Is this a catalyst to everyone sharing or is it a miraculous multiplication of food? Foodbanks are a manifestation of the sharing idea, those with more share with those who have less, of course many never share conserving all they have and increasing their own wealth. This story and others, shows that giving out of our lot means the lot of everyone is made better. Many other stories show that greed, selfishness, conserving assets for yourself only serves to weaken and destroy the lot of everyone. We may be okay, but many others are not and we must not be taken in by those who call the poor undeserving and their own problem. God does not see it that way and neither should we. All are precious, all are deserving and all should have enough to eat.

26th March 2023

John 4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.

In John’s Gospel the stories are a continuing revelation of who Jesus is. Part of what He does is challenge the norm, the status quo. He questions why some are rejected, ignored, blamed because they are different and why people will often follow leaders without question. We can so easily be those who reject people because they are not like us and do things differently. We do not want people to disrupt our normality. We look for someone to blame and being different makes blame easier. Blaming the migrant, the disabled, the young, the old, the poor, anyone but the rich and powerful who encourage us to blame everyone else but them. Jesus teaches us that we must offer love, care, concern, empathy, and understanding even though we find it hard. God calls us to challenge the norm. God calls us not to accept what society tells us to do or say without question. Leaders do not always get it right and will often act out of selfishness and gain. Being a leader is a huge responsibility fraught with trips and dangerous rewards so we are called to challenge through our honesty, our truth, our fairness and our sense of justice and righteousness given to us by God. 

25th March 2023

John 8:6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.

Have you noticed how any politician answers instantaneously, without thought. They have set answers ready and even if they do not answer the actual question they fire out the point they want to make and just keep repeating it. Any question that is asked needs a proper reply and an actual answer. We all have time and we all need to take time. In the world 2 countries stand out as being able to sit with silence, to think before they act or speak, they are Japan and Finland. Notably the 2 worst countries at taking time, at sitting with silence are the USA and the UK. The need to fill the silence, to talk incessantly, to reply whether relevant or not, is, it seems, how we think life should be lived. Jesus was prepared to take time, even when others were pressuring Him, time to think about His answers before giving them, to actually answer the question asked. This is the example we need to follow. Do not let ourselves be rushed into a reply, do not rush others into a reply, listen to a question fully and then answer the question. It is far better to give a truthful, honest and relevant answer than to just fill the silence with hot air. 

24th March 2023

John 4:7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’.

Have you noticed how direct Jesus is with people. Even people who others would avoid, not engage with or just ignore. Jesus jumps straight in. Jesus, a Jew asks a Samaritan for something and she is a woman, all the usual social norms are challenged. Jesus doesn’t make polite conversation but digs in and goes deeper. Jesus doesn’t play games. Doesn’t get side tracked. He knows, the Samaritan woman can’t hide. So, she begins to open up, but there are still issues; as a Jew, Jesus is part of a nation that despises and rejects her people, who will not accept any other way of doing things. When we talk to people do we just make polite conversation or look for what lies behind, what is really at the heart of someone’s need. We need to look deeper and ask what can we really do to help? Jesus offers more than just actual water. He offers a complete change of life and her reply is that He cannot be serious, can he? Who does He think He is, greater than our ancestor Jacob? There is something about this man, His honesty and directness, it brings people in. When we are honest, direct and look beyond the front, we too bring people in. 

23rd March 2023

Exodus 17:3 But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’

The Israelites, in Exodus, had been rescued from the Egyptians and slavery by God but they had constantly turned against Him and were still wandering in the desert. They had hardened their hearts against the very God who had constantly cared for them and not let them down, but time after time they moaned and groaned and put that relationship with God at risk. It is a constant story throughout the Old Testament. Our way rather than God’s way, we know better than God. It was not just the Israelites who thought like this but everyone through history and us as well. We honestly think we know better than God and when we constantly end up in a mess of our own making, who is still there to pick us up and care for us? God is! God kept fighting for His people even when they turned away, God keeps fighting for us even when we keep turning away. No matter how often we turn away God will always be there if we call to Him.

22nd March 2023

James 1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Do you like to talk? Perhaps you are someone who likes to talk about themselves constantly. There is a story of 2 Americans on a flight from east coast to west coast. One a very rich Texan who loved climbing mountains talked incessantly throughout the flight. He talked of his adventures, the views he had seen, the equipment he had, he talked and talked. The other man politely listened. As they arrived the Texan getting ready to get off said, oh by the way I forgot to ask your name. The man who had sat and listened for hours said Hi, I am Neil Armstrong. The first man to walk on the moon, did not big himself up, did not butt in, but listened. Yet had the Texan been willing to listen for just a moment he would have heard about going to the moon. It is so easy to get caught up in ourselves that we lose sight of others, their accomplishments, their contributions to our world. Every human has a part to play, for some it will be far more impressive than others, but all are needed to make our world work. Sometimes we need to just listen to others and maybe discover a treasure that we would otherwise have missed with all our talking.

21st March 2023

John 4:14b The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.

The huge growth in bottled and filtered water reminds us that water is not only necessary for life but is also a money spinner. So, when the Bible talks of life giving water, who wouldn’t want it? yes please, whether it be the resentful Israelites struggling with thirst in the desert in Exodus 17 or the Samaritan woman at the Well whose need is not actually physical but spiritual, or ourselves. It is Jesus asking for a drink, who starts the conversation, and finds a way in. She is a Samaritan and Jesus is trying to make clear that His living water, His mission, is for Jews and Samaritans, in fact it is for everyone who wants it. Even in the Samaritan woman’s vagueness Jesus sees clearly what she needs. Even in our vagueness God sees clearly what we need, what we are struggling to communicate. As Jesus talks to her, He reveals His knowledge of her and her dry life, she realises her need, and becomes a witness to Jesus, a messenger of His love, of His life giving water and she brings the people to Him.

20th March 2023

Proverbs 31:26-27 A mother opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the ways of her household, and is never idle.

Growing up with 2 sons we lived superhero’s, had the action figures, watched the films and built the Lego. Who are your favourite superhero’s? What attracts you to them? Webster's dictionary says they are exceptionally skilful or successful people often with superhuman powers. Superhero’s have certain things in common; they help people, they have special powers and skills, they are normal people with normal lives, they are available all the time and they stand up for good, right, justice and fairness. Jesus was a superhero, healing people, helping people, standing up for people against injustice and wrongdoing. His mum Mary was also a superhero, sticking by her son, dealing with him being persecuted, wrongly punished and watching Him die on the cross. All Mum’s are superhero’s, they juggle family, work, washing, cooking, cleaning, packed lunches, school runs, nursing, games, singing, smiling, sadness, joy, illness, they do it all. We are who we are because of our mums. Even when we shout at her, slam doors in her face, blame her, tell her we hate her, stay out to worry her, she still loves us. Our mum’s are superhero’s because they stick with us through thick and thin. Let’s try to appreciate them more every day and to thank all the women in our lives who have made a difference, cared for us, loved us, supported us and to thank God for them.

19th March 2023

John 19:27 Jesus said to the disciple “Here is your mother” and from that hour the disciple took Mary into his own home.

I am very aware that the plight of women in Afghanistan is just getting worse. Female doctors are not allowed to practice now but are also disappearing. They are seen as a threat because they are women who are educated and the men in this very patriarchal society will not allow this because their patriarchy is challenged. As we celebrate Mothering Sunday we need to be very appreciative of all women, our mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmas, daughters, neighbours and friends. We are all children of someone even if we do not have children ourselves. We all like to be seen and heard and appreciated for who we are. The sad truth is that women and Mum’s are often not seen, it is far too easy, even in our supposedly modern society, to become invisible and taken for granted as a mum and as a woman. We need to be reminded that God sees you and I and all women, created equal. God values you and I and all women, as much as any other person. We also need to be reminded that God sees us all and when we disrespect women, mums, girls, God is not happy with us and would challenge that behaviour within us to change. Today, Mothering Sunday, allows us to show our Mums and all the amazing women and girls in our lives just how special they are and how much we appreciate them.

18th March 2023

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Yesterday was St Patrick’s Day. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland; this Saints day has been observed for over a thousand years. It is always in the season of Lent and has been the opportunity to take a day out from the austerity of Lent to celebrate, to dance and feast. Patrick was born in the late 4th century in Roman Britain. As a young boy he was kidnapped by Irish Pirates and taken into slavery where he grew up for the next 6 years. He managed to escape and find his way home and in the time as a slave and then as he returned home he found a growing faith in God. In his difficulties and troubles, he met with people who were calm, taking life a day at a time, a step at a time and seeking God’s wisdom and help. He was so impressed that he became a Christian and dedicated his life to serving God. Back in England he trained to become a priest and felt that his calling was to return to Ireland and work with the people he had met and those who had kidnapped him. The stories about Patrick show his true and honest nature. They also show his awareness of his surroundings and situations. His living day by day. His mindful nature. He learned and taught a lot about not worrying about tomorrow or next week or next year but accepting life as it is and living it well. It was not about storing up wealth on earth but in Heaven. Allowing God to use him to care for others, to show others love and compassion. The treasures of heaven are not wealth, gold, position or power, the treasures of heaven, of God, are people. Patrick realised this and spent his life being mindful of others.

17th March 2023

Psalm 1:3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.

Throughout the book of Psalms there is an emphasis on the joy and peace that comes from meditating on the Law. By the Law they do not mean rules and regulations but a much wider broader category. At its heart are the 10 commandments but also the context in which they were given, the theological history of Israel in the Pentateuch; the first 5 books of the Bible; and the rabbinical commentary and debate on these books and the developing traditions of Israel. It is this, God’s action, His story, the argument, the debate, God’s revelation to us, it is this that the Psalmist tells us to meditate on, ponder, think about and to sink our roots into and be nourished by. The soil is the place where the tree roots are nourished, move, grow, develop, and secure the tree. The Bible is our soil, the law, the history, the revelation is all in there and this is where we need to be securely rooted. These secure roots hold us in place when the storms come. The Psalms speak of difficult times that come to all of us. Our rootedness in God’s word gives us resilience. Roots are not just anchors of stability but living, growing things on a continuous journey to find nourishment. They follow the path that is best for them, where they will find water and nourishment.

16th March 2023

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.

I love the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I wonder if you have read it. It is very much a family favourite with young ones. The story is about a tiny egg on a leaf which hatches into a caterpillar on a Sunday morning, He eats and eats and eats, but is still hungry. The next Sunday he built a small house called a cocoon and stayed in there for more than two weeks. He nibbled a hole in the cocoon and pushed his way out. He was not a caterpillar anymore; he was now a beautiful butterfly. In John 3 we meet Nicodemus who came to Jesus late one night, because he was hungry. Unlike the caterpillar Nicodemus wasn't looking for a late-night snack; Nicodemus was hungry for spiritual food. He was hungry for the truth about the kingdom of God. He came to Jesus because he had questions and he knew that Jesus would have the answers. Nicodemus reminds me of the very hungry caterpillar. Jesus tells him we need to be born again, that means when the Spirit of God enters our heart and gives birth to a new spiritual life. This is life as a Christian with Jesus and that’s what it means to be born again. When the caterpillar came out of his cocoon, he was a new creation. A butterfly! That's the way it is when we are born again and let Jesus come into our hearts. He makes us a new creation! We are born again.

15th March 2023

Acts 17:26 From one human he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

Article 1 of the Declaration of Human Rights says “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Every human is entitled to basic rights as a human regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, politics, opinion, origin, birth, property or any other status. Shamefully inequality is spreading across the world, expanding poverty, discrimination, division, intolerance and hate. Even climate change, pollution and loss of nature is a violation of all our basic rights because it changes the world order and impacts the most vulnerable, most of all. Abhorrent abuse against women and children, forced labour, trafficking, modern slavery, poverty, hunger, hate crime, imprisonment, torture and death, physical, mental and verbal abuse, all because someone is disabled, a child, transgender, LGBTQ+, female, a migrant, from a certain descent or culture, from a certain religion, of a certain colour of skin. The very sad fact is that we treat our pets better than we do the most vulnerable in society. Every human is created by God, all equal, all human and each one is of equal value and treasured by Him. No one is more or less worthy, no one has more or less rights than another. We need to respect differences and to understand that all are human and all are equal before God and thus treat each other well.

14th March 2023

John 4:27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman.

How do you feel when someone interrupts your conversation with someone else? I see it a lot in church, someone will interrupt others to speak to me, they think their cause is more important. It is not and we all need to be more patient with each other. Often the disciples interrupt Jesus conversations to try and force Him to follow usual rules or to triage people into levels of importance. Jesus has none of it. Anyone who needs Him will be seen and helped. Any meeting with Jesus is a meeting at the right time, God’s time, and is life changing and life giving. Jesus died for everyone. Everyone needs to meet Jesus and we are the way that happens. We are the introduction not the triage. Our conversations, our challenges to the norm. Our caring for society. These are catalysts for transformation, for change. The kind words, the simple deeds, the friendship and neighbourly behaviour, the challenge to injustice and unfairness, our being open and honest…..this is what changes people, what shares faith and brings people to God. We need to be relevant, challenging, and honest, just like Jesus was, so that every meeting will be a meeting in God’s time, in God’s way.

13th March 2023

Matthew 7:12 Treat all people the same way you would want them to treat you.

The Golden rule is an ethical principle of treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves. It exists in every religion in forms of wishing the best for the other, not doing or wishing harm on anyone, treating the other with respect. Even for those of no faith it is part of democracy, of mutual respect and basic human kindness. It is a reminder that our words and actions are capable of inflicting harm and immorality on our fellow humans. Within Christianity it ties into the Jewish law and the prophets which teach that if something would cause you harm then you do not do that to anyone else. It sits within the whole realm of relationships, how we relate to and interact with each other and ultimately with God our creator. From God comes the virtue of kindness which we should reflect to each other. God put himself into our place through Jesus and acted accordingly and so we put ourselves in the place of the other and act accordingly. A good test is to ask ourselves; how would we feel if it was us? Jesus put himself into our shoes, walked with us, gave himself for us, may we put ourselves into the shoes of others and walk with them, treating them with dignity, respect, kindness just as we would want others to do for us.

12th March 2023

Exodus 2:19 They said, ‘An Egyptian helped us against the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock.’

Places of meeting were very important in the past, before the times of community halls, villages had places of meeting for everyone to come together and before we had running water in houses, there were wells and places where families had to go for water. There are still many of these places in our world where this is still happening and children die from dirty water because there are no proper fresh wells. In the Old Testament encountering someone at a well is very scriptural, Abraham’s servant meeting Rebekah at the well and introducing her to Isaac. In Genesis 24. Jacob meeting Rachel at the well in Genesis 29 and Moses meeting his wife at the well in Exodus 2. Wells are a source of life-giving water. We can survive far longer without food than water. Water refreshes, energises, gives life, it washes clean. Life as we know it cannot exist without water. Water is an image used in the Bible for life, an image of a God who provides for those who thirst with the literal water of life but also the spiritual water of life in Jesus. The need to be fed and watered is necessary for human life but also for heavenly life. God offers that life giving water to us.

11th March 2023

John 1:23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

When I talk about something I find that if I make a good point I can be dismissed as not really knowing what I am talking about. This old way, often used in politics, or by men with women, is to try to make the other person look stupid by attacking them, not actually making or justifying their actual argument. In Jesus time anyone who spoke up did need to justify who they were, the Pharisee’s would ask who they were to question or challenge them. They would ask if they were Elijah or a prophet. When John comes along challenging these leaders, their religious practice and preaching hellfire and brimstone, they are wanting to discredit him as quickly as they can. They ask who he is and the reply is from the prophet Isaiah, one calling in the wilderness, preparing the way, baptising, pointing toward the Messiah and to Jesus and pointing out that neither he or they are worthy. John knows his role; He knows who Jesus is. Do we know who Jesus really is? Do we know our role in pointing others to Jesus? Others will try to discredit us but we need to be secure in Knowing God and knowing exactly who Jesus.

10th March 2023

Matthew 11: 4 “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Has anyone ever asked you If you are the one they are expecting? I have often introduced myself as the vicar from the local church when I knock on a door for a visit. They don’t necessarily know me but I do hope the dog collar is a clue and that they are expecting me. John the Baptist is Jesus’ cousin, he has been pointing the way to Jesus, he baptised Jesus, he had seen and heard the miracles, heard the voice of God, preached his hellfire sermons in the desert and then ended up in prison. From this awful place he begins to question who Jesus is. John asks are you the one? Are you the answer to my prayers? Because right now from where he is sitting in a prison cell Jesus is not quite what he was expecting. Jesus warns us about our expectations, we have an idea about who Jesus or God should be. Like john we need reminding about those things we do actually know about God and His love for us, instead of our often unrealistic and unfounded expectations. We have our parts to play in the story of the gospel, just like John did, and we need to see God at work in each other and rely on what we know of God, not what we expect.

9th March 2023

Proverbs 24:27 Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.

As I left for school yesterday (Wednesday) morning, there big flakes of snow falling fast, much of the ground and parked vehicles had a good dollop of snow already deposited on them. The main roads were okay, slushy, wet and if we were sensible, they were safe. By the time I reached school the flakes became sleet and less frequent. The school grounds were well covered and the school road was difficult. School opened but later than usual. A few hours later I was on a train, by now the sleet was rain and little snow was even visible but the trains were a mess, messages about disruption and travellers leaving earlier. All this snow had been predicted, they were virtually spot on with the time of the snow and then the rain and yet some travel was just not ready for it. Roads had not been gritted, train tracks not cleared and gritted, disruption everywhere even though we knew it was coming. As humans we are very good at not taking notice of warnings, of not being prepared, of thinking we know better. Time and again God warned, God gave not just hints but clear prophecies, clear happenings, and clear outcomes, yet humans decided we knew better. Jesus came, fulfilled the prophecies, performed miracles, gave the teaching but humans knew better and we still think we do. If we can put aside the pride, be willing to listen and learn, see Jesus for who He is then we will always be prepared for whatever come our way.

8th March 2023

Matthew 17:1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

Sometimes we wonder what the purpose of things are. Why did that happen? Why does that make me feel like that? We may ask the same questions about Bible stories and events in Jesus’ life. The purpose of the transfiguration story for the disciples and us is that Jesus is seen in a more heavenly form, the disciples who were present could gain a greater understanding of who Jesus actually was. This dramatic change in appearance allows the disciples to behold Him in His true glory. They had only known Him in His human body, now they had a greater understanding of the deity of Christ, though they could not fully comprehend it. This offers them reassurance of exactly who He is after hearing the news of His coming death. Sometimes we need to see exactly who God is so we can keep going through the difficulties and troubles of this world.

7th March 2023

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

I have recently been trying to locate an old bank account. The bank was bought out and accounts transferred but somewhere along the way the details of the new account did not get to me. I am using a verified Bank account finder that our banks have to provide to the public. I have been asked all sorts of questions and as I commented, if I knew all the things you are asking me then my account would not actually be lost. Part of the issue is that when accounts are taken over we rely on the banks communicating with us but the communication can be lost in old addresses, changed names, a different way of access to before, no more statements or cheque books, a lack of effort on their part and ours. It is all so easy in our busy lives. The key is recognising that the account is lost, realising we need to find it. The key in life is recognising we are lost, that God has found us and is their waiting but we must seek Him. Whatever our change of address, name, age etc, He is right there but we can only see Him, meet Him when we recognise we are lost and allow Him to find us.

6th March 2023

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

God is perfect and just and good, but we humans are not. My life, your life is full of flaws; we make mistakes every day; we don’t live as God wants us to. And it’s not just our personal life; the world is full of injustice, things that aren’t right. People are taken advantage of; the poor don’t have enough to eat; the rich get richer and people suffer. Challenging these things, that is God’s righteousness. Seeking to grow more and more like Jesus in the way we live, and doing all we can to make the world a more just, a more righteous place, that is God’s righteousness that we need to seek. That’s the choice. Live for ourselves or live for God and his righteousness. We make that choice every time we pray the Lord’s prayer. We ask God to give us what we need for each day. We ask Him to look after our basic needs as we seek to manifest His kingdom on earth. In the current cost of living crisis and increasing ethical divide, either we can live for nothing other than our own survival; or we can ask the question, what kind of lifestyle most honours God, seeks His righteousness and then go after that.

5th March 2023

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

We all have days when we want to give up. I will often say out loud just stop the world I want to get off. Yet I usually manage to keep going, most of us do. When we feel like giving up, we might need reminding that God loves us and wants each one of us to live life to the full! God's plan for each of us is to bless us and not to harm us. If we're struggling in life, we need to carry on, not give up, there are better things to come! There are often things that demand our time and attention that we actually should leave behind; bad habits, unhealthy relationships, jobs that challenge our faith and practice. We must keep fighting for what is good and right, for justice and peace. We need to allow God to strengthen us to fight for our relationships, to fight for our children, fight for our health and don't give up! Be assured we are not alone and we are in the protective and strengthening hands of God. He will provide us with strength when we need it. He will renew our strength as we need it and we must not give up.

4th March 2023

Matthew 17:4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

We do like to keep good experiences and feelings in our lives. Take a picture, build a cairn, leave a mark, it makes us feel better. At this momentous occasion of seeing Jesus changed on the Mountain top Peter wants to put up shelters as a sign of God’s presence. Peter did not want to move on, he was expressing a wish to stay in that Holy place. Something we all like to do. Let’s put God in a box in this special place and keep things as they are. We desire to live off a special experience and lose sight of the reality before us which needs us to be Christians in the real world. The mountain top experience is over. What goes up must come down. God will bless us in these wonderful places but then we must return to normal life and use His blessing to make us better Christians in the real world. As we move further into Lent, we will be tempted to stay in those holy, mountain top places rather than join Jesus in His walk to Jerusalem and the cross.

3rd March 2023

Deuteronomy 6:6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

These words come from the Shema, part of a daily Jewish prayer that speaks of remembering and teaching young people the right way to live. Within Judaism faith is passed on in families through the traditions being lived on a daily basis. During the Holocaust the millions of murdered Jews continued praying, observing the festivals in concentration and death camps even facing punishment and death. The persecution of a group of people because of what they believe or where the come from, the colour of skin or their accent is completely unacceptable and yet we see it daily in the UK. The inflammatory language around refugees and those escaping war and intolerance only to arrive here and be treated so appallingly. Ordinary people who can be turned to fascist beliefs by stoked newspaper reports and right-wing MP’s who curry favour with those who they do not properly represent but encourage them to see the other as the threat not the undemocratic ways of their government. We can make decisions to challenge hatred and prejudice or sit by and do nothing. We can speak out against religious, racial and identity-based persecution or just want a quiet life. We have a choice but if we don’t act we will lose our choice, if we allow others to lose their freedoms we will lose ours and there will be no one left to speak out for us. We are called to justice and fairness for all.

2nd March 2023

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

For those of you who do not know me I am a rugby fan, I have been a follower of Wales since a child, I played before women’s rugby became a norm and both my sons still play. Following Wales has had its ups and downs, currently we are in a down and people take great delight in telling me about Wales losing or not playing well. In the same way life has its ups and downs, times when we are on top, all is good and we seem to win, but then the times in the doldrums, when we seem to lose and everyone takes great delight in rubbing our noses in our failures. Christians fail, we get it wrong, we suffer at the hands of others and circumstances and people sure love to tell us when we fail. God though, sticks with us, supports us, does not rub our noses in it, but simply encourages us to keep faith with him, to let Him support us and find our way back to the right way. A true fan does not give up on their team, even when they are unsuccessful, God never gives up on us, whatever the circumstance, whatever the situation and whatever anyone else says to us.

1st March 2023

Luke 16:10 One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

Today is St David’s Day. St David is the patron saint of Wales and St David’s, in Pembrokeshire, is the smallest city in Britain. It is a wonderful place and well worth a visit. St David had a phrase, do the small things well. He believed that if we do the basics of faith well, the rest falls into place. Simply this means as Christians we need to pray, read the Bible and love one another. As we pray and read, God works within us, showing us how to live, how to change, how to be honest, fair and true. As we love one another things change, people grow and relationships develop. If everything we do is done out of love, done for God and for His kingdom then there is never any malice or hatred, never any judgement or criticism. Friends if we do the small things well, if we try to be like St David, God will make sure that the rest will all slot into place.

28th February 2023

Luke 24:44 Then He said to them, 'These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.'

In the Church of England, we base our faith on Scripture, Tradition and Reason, a threefold approach which allows us to move forward as we learn more and understand more. When Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus at the Transfiguration, they represent the Law and the Prophets; the twofold basis for Jewish teaching and faith. God now makes it clear to everyone who will listen that the Law and the Prophets must give way to Jesus; the One who is the new and living way is replacing the old, He is the fulfilment of the Law and the countless prophecies in the Old Testament. Jesus will be seated at the right hand of God, He will be enthroned as King of kings and Lord of lords, after His death and resurrection. His disciples and followers, are going to establish God’s kingdom on earth through Jesus. His teaching is in our scripture, our traditions grow from this and our reason comes through our education and learning, which allows us to interpret this for our current and future lives. But there is a warning for all of us, if we think we have all the answers for everyone then we are deluded. Only Jesus has and is the answer.

27th February 2023

Matthew 6:18b Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Are you good at giving things up? Some of us are no good at saying no and often end up being very busy people. Giving up certain food or fasting completely can be difficult but can also be beneficial if done properly. Lent is a time of giving up, certain foods, even certain joyful activities. In early times Lent involved a very strict fast. People did nothing that was enjoyable during Lent. Sundays were the only day when joy and song were permitted, but these songs and hymns had to be very solemn. No Gloria was sung or said. It still isn’t. It was a time of deep contemplation and prayer. However a person choses to fast or give things up, the most important part of Lent is the contemplation and prayer as we move forward to Easter, as we walk with Jesus towards the cross of Good Friday. On Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day we ate up all the fatty stuff, so as to have a very plain and simple diet in Lent. The word Shrove comes from Shrive, to confess sins. Then on Ash Wednesday as Lent began, ash was purified after burning, a cross marked on the forehead as a sign of repentance, forgiveness and remembering we are as Humans, created from Dust and we will return to dust. As we realise and reflect on our need for forgiveness Lent offers a time to pray, read, ponder and contemplate change as we move towards Easter. 

26th February 2023

2 Peter 1:16a &18 But we were eyewitnesses of His majesty…..We ourselves heard the voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain.

When something really good happens we enjoy it, when life is up and great, we want it to stay like that. We want to stay on holiday, at the party, at the wedding. We take pictures and make memories. We often call, these experiences Mountain top experiences. We do not forget those mountain top experiences, some of them, as Christians, we relish; those times we feel closer to God, the places we find security and want to stay there, but we must come down into the real world, we must bring the security and blessing with us and allow it to encourage us and bring blessing to others. The disciples never forgot what happened to them. John wrote in his gospel, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only”. Those who witnessed the mountain top bore witness to it to the other disciples and to countless millions of us down through the centuries. Friends, I encourage you to recall and remember those special times with God and allow them to bless you again and again, encourage you to keep going and assure you of God’s risen power and His unconditional love for you. 

25th February 2023

Matthew 4:1a Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.

I wonder how much you know about the season of Lent? It began on Ash Wednesday and lasts for 6 weeks, not including Sundays, that is 40 days leading up to Easter. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week. Lent is an old English word meaning 'lengthen'. Lent is observed in spring, when the days begin to get longer or lengthen. It commemorates Jesus 40 days in the Desert after His baptism before his ministry commences. A Time of preparation. Priests still do this today, not for 40 days but for a short time they go on retreat to prepare themselves. Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray before beginning his work for God. He was tempted several times by Satan but was able to resist. Lent allows Christians to remember Jesus's fasting in the desert. It is a time of giving things up and a test of self-discipline. There are many foods that some Christians do not eat in Lent, such as meat and fish, fats, eggs, and milky foods. Some Christians give up something they really enjoy, such as cakes or chocolate. Some fast one day each week, some fast a meal every day, some fast in daylight hours. There is no prescriptive way of doing it. It is more about what a person believes God is asking of them. Whatever tradition we are from the challenge is to use our time in Lent wisely, to give up the bad habits of judging, arguing, criticising, and to try to establish new and better habits of compassion, peace, empathy. Perhaps an act of kindness each day, giving to charity, volunteering, write a poem or thought each day, phone someone each day. These are things we can all do, not just in Lent but at any time to make life better for everyone.

24th February 2023

Matthew 16:5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

On Ash Wednesday I had an uneasy feeling. We read the passage in Matthew telling us not to show off when we fast , pray and give and then we put a big ash cross on our foreheads and walked around like that all day. The two things seem at cross purposes, please pardon the pun. I do find that the cross provokes questions, I am not in rags or making myself look in a terrible state, so I am as normal as I can be. This cross is not to show off but it is a reminder of sin. We are all sinners, no matter how hard we might try to claim otherwise. We are all hypocrites, I might not see you or you me behaving in that way publicly, but we all look down on others, criticise behind peoples backs, make judgements about others and their life, their faith and belief. We all judge so easily but that cross reminds us we too are sinners; we too are judged and we too need forgiveness. Through this lent may we make the effort to cast off the bad habits, the judging and criticising and endeavour to take up the better habits of encouragement, praise and care.

23rd February 2023

Matthew 17:5b “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

Many of us speak about our future, what we want, where we will study, then live, children, grandchildren. We desire a future but we have no guarantees. Jesus clearly spoke out on several occasions about His future, that He would suffer, be killed, and be raised to life. That must have been difficult for His friends to hear. To give them a glimpse of who He really is Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain to pray. Physically going up makes us feel nearer to God, to Heaven. While praying, His personal appearance changed into a glorified form, and His clothing became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appear, representing the Law and the Prophets with God’s literal word, Jesus. A cloud envelops them, a voice says, “This is My Son, whom I have chosen, whom I love; listen to Him!” You listen to Moses, you listen to Elijah, now listen to my Son, my word. The cloud lifted; all is back to normal. In this moment the disciples got a glimpse of the future, of Jesus glory, of who Jesus really is. Our real future is in God’s hands and He will and does take care of every moment if we let Him.

22nd February 2023

Genesis 3:19 From dust you came and to dust you shall return.

Today we begin Lent, this first day is Ash Wednesday where we recognise the wrong doing in our lives and are marked with an ash cross on our forehead as a symbol of our repentance and desire to change. Ash is a result of fire burning away impurities and leaving ash. The people of the Bible would wear sackcloth and cover themselves in ashes as a sign of their repentance, their turning from sin and desire to become better by taking away "burning" away the bad things in life. It is also a reminder that we were brought to life by God from the dust of the earth at creation. As we move through Lent, we recognise our need to turn from sin, our need for forgiveness, our need to be more prayerful, more faithful and less selfish. We walk with Christ as He heads towards Jerusalem and His death, we move from Christmas to Easter, from birth to death and then beyond to the resurrection. It may seem a long way off but day by day, step by step we walk with Christ.

21st February 2023

Joel 2:12 “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Today is Shrove Tuesday or in France Mardi Gras. On this day before Lent begins the tradition is to eat up all the fats so that Lent sees us have a minimal diet, a disciplined life of fasting, praying and getting ready for Easter. Eggs, fat and flour mixed up and cooked makes pancakes. Thus, it has become known as Pancake Day. The name Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, the Tuesday we eat up all the fats. These days most people just enjoy pancakes but have no real idea of why we eat them. In schools the reason is sometimes told but so often Lent and its preparation for Easter is ignored. Traditions such as pancake races supposedly come from someone making pancakes, hearing the bells ring to call folk to church and running there with the pancake still in the pan. For Christians it is a mark of the liturgical season changing, now is a time to prepare, to live better, to give things up and be disciplined. It is an opportunity to walk forward towards Easter knowing that before victory comes torture and death and to be ready to walk with Jesus on this journey of eternal life through death.

20th February 2023

John 8:12 Jesus said, I am the light of the World, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John’s gospel contains these I am sayings, they use common recognised things in daily life to explain who Jesus is and why He has come. Darkness is difficult, not being able to see, feeling unsafe, it is the common narrative on bad things, under cover of darkness crime is committed. Light allows us to see clearly, it pervades into corners and small places, the torch app we use on our phones can shine under the bed or in a dark place so we can find something. Jesus speaks of being light because He shines in the dark places, His light shows the corruption and darkness of those who wish to operate in hidden places, those who would use cover of darkness to commit crime. We are also that light, we have the light of life because we follow Jesus, we are people who shine into dark places, hold people to account, challenge wrongdoing in others as well as in ourselves. If we are followers of Jesus then our own lives should be full of light, shining, full of compassion, honesty, integrity, and empathy. We show the love of God by being light in this dark world. Our behaviour matters because we are setting the tone, the example to others. 

19th February 2023

Proverbs 17:28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.

In places of work, families, clubs, wherever we meet together there is gossip. Someone who says “Did you know?” “Guess what?” “I’ve just heard that…” we listen intently as we are told something which may not actually be true, or maybe private or none of our business, and then we happily pass it on without concern for the harm we may do. To try and remedy this in myself I ask myself three questions about anything I say, firstly is it necessary? Then is it true? And finally, is it kind? So often gossip starts because we say things which are not necessary, we comment when it is none of our business and we can begin unnecessary rumours. So, if it’s not necessary to say something, don’t. Most importantly about anything we do say is that we need to know for certain it is true. We should never repeat lies or conjecture. If we are not sure we must check the truth of anything or remain quiet. Finally, we need what we say to be kind and good. If nothing we say about someone is good and kind then we should say nothing. Is it necessary, true and kind? if not, let’s keep silent.

18th February 2023

Matthew 5:14b A City built on a hill cannot be hidden.

I do love aerial photos of cities, you get a different perspective, but I also love the ones taken from space at night where you can see the light generated and so clearly visible. For years people have complained about the light pollution our cities create. It has become virtually impossible to see the stars when you live in or near a city. A city is not a place that you keep hidden, they are big, they stand out and if a city is built on a hill, it is clearly visible to everyone. A city at night, is a collection of lights. Street lights, buildings lit up, lights to frame a special building, lights to warn planes of tall buildings. Lights everywhere, clearly visible. A city shows off its presence, says look at me, I’m big and bold and here. We are called to be big and bold and here as Christians in our community. To live in truth and bring light. In many ways we are called to be light pollution like the big cities are, not so the heavens cannot be seen, but so God and His heavens can be seen, can be experienced because we become the light to the world who cannot be hidden.

17th February 2023

Luke 12:22b Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

Daily life gets on top of us sometimes. There are days, weeks even months when everything seems to be a struggle and we feel like we are just existing. Money troubles, illness, bereavement, job loss, rising energy bills, each can bring us low for short or long periods of time. There is no safeguard against this for anyone, and for those with wealth and security it can be easier to cope, but not always. Jesus never tells us that we, his followers, will have an easy ride. In fact, He clearly warns the opposite. Life will be tough at times! When Jesus asks us to trust God to provide and points us to the birds and the flowers; He’s not promising us that we will never have hardships. But He is promising us that the answer is to trust God with it, to let Him share the load, to provide for us, which means sorting out today, and leaving tomorrow for Him. 

16th February 2023

Luke 10:27b Love your neighbour as you love yourself.

The question needs to be asked, just who is my neighbour? The person next door? The person I work with or friends? The word neighbour comes from old English meaning near dweller. In the Bible it means everyone we meet, work with, live with, play sport with, family, friends, everyone. We as humans must stand together with one another. Jesus tells us to love each other as we love our self, do we really try to do that? To do this effectively we need to spend time with others, understand them, know them. We know ourselves more and think about ourselves more than anyone else, so we need to apply that to others. We are being called to love, care for, respect our neighbour as we would ourselves. To treat others as we would want to be treated. It is all to easy to put our agenda, our comfort, our future above others, to step over someone rather than stand with them if it suits our agenda. We are selfish as humans; we will put me first. Helping the other is so easily lost once we have power and wealth, and we will do whatever it takes to maintain our status even when that means walking over others. This love of neighbour must cut across culture, religion, ethnicity, politics, gender and race. I may not agree with your political view, but I will stand with you on your right to hold that informed opinion. Divide and rule is the current ploy in much of society, misdirect people, make them fight amongst themselves, that way we maintain power. It is only when people stand together that things change and justice for all becomes achievable. As we love our neighbour may we stand together, support each other’s freedoms and rights and work for the good of all not just the few.

15th February 2023

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

We often use the phrase, in a perfect world, this wouldn’t happen. We don’t live in a perfect world, we live in a world full of sin and wrongdoing and because of that we have worry in our lives amongst other things. Worrying in perfect lives is unnecessary, not because we don’t have needs, but because the God who made the universe is our Father in heaven, who knows what we need, loves us dearly, and is more than capable of taking good care of us as we live in this imperfect world. Worrying doesn’t make things any better. We don’t live longer by worrying. If anything, too much anxiety probably shortens our life expectancy. It certainly makes us go grey faster. When we worry, we live as though the whole thing, the responsibility, rests on our shoulders alone. Behind this lies the bigger question of ambition. Our anxiety betrays our ambitions. Ambition is about what we’re living for. Most of us don’t live our life one day at a time with no purpose or direction. We all have things we’re aiming at, chasing after, hoping for. If our ambition is focussed on food, drink, clothing, that reduces us to little more than animals. Jesus says that if we are his people, if we know our God, then we will live for more than that.

14th February 2023

Genesis 1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years."

I love looking at the stars. As a teenager I knew the constellations and followed them and read the myths associated with their formation. These days you can purchase a distant star as yours and hold a certificate saying it is yours and mapping it in the heavens. Early books of the Bible testify to the power of stars in the life of the ancient people. Job mentions three constellations: the Bear, Pleiades, and Orion. Childless Abram goes out at night and hears a promise from God that he will have many children, as numerous as the stars. Stars are said to “Sing together” and “shout for joy” in the Book of Job, and Psalm 147 tells us God names all the stars and determines their number. Clearly, the stars held meaning for the ancient people of God. God created the heavens and all the stars within it. We have the blessing of being able to see these stars and the light they give us in the night sky.

13th February 2023

Matthew 6:25a Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

In life some of us are worriers. We worry about food, clothes, homes, jobs, money etc. Although we are encouraged not to worry God also knows that we do. Jesus offers us help by pointing us toward a better understanding of ourselves and living for God. We quote helpful ideas about anxiety to each other but in reality, they do not magic away our worries. They do show us that anxiety is unavoidable because it is part of the human condition. At Creation we brought worry into the world by turning away from Gods complete provision for us. Just as we battle sin on a daily basis so we have to battle the worry that pushes its way into our lives. Jesus gives us a couple of practical examples from the natural world to encourage us in finding our provision in God. Birds are a good example when it comes to food and drink. They don’t sow, or reap, or gather in barns. They don’t worry where their next meal will come from. They are simply looked after by God. Which is not to say that God just drops the food into their beaks; they have to collect it, and they have to eat it. But what they don’t do, is worry about it. God cares for the birds, so how much more will he take care of us, his created and loved children. Flowers are transient. Here today, gone tomorrow. And yet, God clothes each of those flowers with the most exquisite beauty. If he does that, how much more will he make sure his dear children are clothed.

12th February 2023

Hebrews 13:5 Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

In this current Cost of living crisis so many people feel that no body cares. They are written off as lazy or feckless, told they should be able to live on 30p a day, told they should work harder and not have anything modern or technical. What a difference it makes when someone cares, what a difference it makes for hungry children when they are fed, for parents to be paid a fare wage, for rented property to actually be habitable, for the poor to be treated with respect and with compassion, for the elderly to be cared for and treated well. Just think how many people are suffering unimaginable pain today because they feel that no one cares for them. Many people feel that there is no one they can trust anymore. In fact, situations and relationships around us can change very rapidly, leaving us perplexed and uncertain about tomorrow and the future. People really do think “No one cares for me anymore”. In the midst of all the uncertainties and rejections we face, we can remember that God cares for His children and will never fail us. God cares for us and wants us to care for each other, to be His operatives, His hands and feet in looking after each other as God looks after us.

11th February 2023

Matthew 5:14b You are the light of the world.

At the time of Jesus, a lamp had olive oil in the back end, and then a wick of some kind that came out of the spout. Once it was lit it was put on a stand, up high, because the higher the lamps were put up the more light you could get in the room with less lamps, one lamp could actually do a lot when it was elevated. What Jesus says is, “Nobody lights a lamp and puts it under a basket”. In other words, they don’t hide the lamp, or the light. What they do is they light the lamp and they put it on a stand so that the light illumines everything around it, which is exactly what we’re supposed to do as God’s light on this earth. Light is us revealing where God is. So, if we act in a way that is not consistent with the character of God, then we’re being darkness, not light. As the light of the world, we are God’s light in this dark world, challenging injustice, standing up for goodness and honesty, not judging others but showing them God’s love so the Holy Spirit can work in them and they can find God for themselves.

10th February 2023

John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

How are you with data or statistics, personally I believe they have a place but I don’t get excited about them and it is easy for me to get lost in trying to interpret them. Some people are just amazing with them and can interpret them easily and clearly to help us see the trends. Each year clergy have to enter statistics into the church of England data base. We give figures for Easter and Christmas services, October is used as the month where we send in our weekly and Sunday figures, we record those on the electoral role and certain events and services we do through the year. These statistics are interpreted by people in the church who decide how we are doing in attendance, mission, growth etc, and after Covid it has been useful to see that smaller churches have got back to pre-covid levels far quicker than bigger ones, and also to see that we now have at home congregations who watch streamed services. Although these things can be helpful the danger is we become a slave to them, having to grow in numbers or be considered a failure. That is never what God intended. God doesn’t measure our faith or love by numbers, we are called simply to love one another as He loved us. This is what matters to God.

9th February 2023

Job 15:11 Are the comforts of God too small for you?

There may be times when we feel life is unfair, we judge other’s situations by our standards and can think others are deserving of their suffering but we are not. The book of Job challenges us as to whether fairness from God is actually what we want. The undeserved grace and mercy we receive from God is much better for us than fairness! Eliphaz and Job’s “friends” hear Job’s words of explanation and understanding but do not accept them. When it comes to understanding God’s ways, Eliphaz thinks he’s got it nailed and no matter what evidence Job puts forward, he’s not about to let it get in the way of a good theory. Many of us behave like that. In fact, this so-called friend of job is incredibly cruel to poor suffering Job, repeating his point of view as the only right way. Job, he says, deserves his punishment, it is his fault and he needs to repent. This so-called friend piles even more suffering onto Job. Actually, it is the friend who is guilty, the friend who presumes he knows it all, even more than God. How often do we put ourselves into the place of God deciding who is right and wrong in our opinion. Later in Job’s story we find that Job receives not only comfort from God but also rich blessing. Eliphaz is the one who God is angry with because he did not speak the truth or help God’s child in his time of need. 

8th February 2023

Matthew 5:13a You are the salt of the earth.

The Dead Sea is a fascinating place in Israel. You can't sink in the Dead Sea because of the amount of salt. Normal oceans are between, 6% and 8% salt. The Dead Sea is 36% salt. It's the lowest place on Earth, so all the water flows into it, it's literally the drain of the world. Nothing flows out of it because gravity has no place to take it. It's 1300 feet below sea level. It's so salty that you can't sink in it. To this day, they mine salt at the Dead Sea. There are multiple veins of salt and just one of those veins has enough salt in it to supply the entire world's population with salt for 60 years. For us, salt is reasonably cheap, However, in the first century, salt was one of the most valuable minerals on the planet. In fact, salt was so valuable that they paid people in salt. They called it a solarium. We take our word salary from it. Salt was the most valuable, most precious commodity, and Jesus says, “You are the salt of the world”. The equivalent today would be “You are the diamonds of the world”. For them and us this means we are really precious and valuable to God. Friends, You're a diamond. A priceless one!

7th February 2023

Luke 2:38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Have you noticed the days are slowly getting a little longer. Just a minute or so each day the light comes earlier and goes later. The beginning of February is a sort of turning point in the winter solstice towards the spring equinox; it’s the point at which we begin to turn from the cold and dark of winter towards the promise of spring. The odd flower begins to rear its head, signs of life just tickle the land. Just as nature provides us with seasons, our liturgical year offers us seasons, to help in our faith and in our experience. As we begin to move toward spring, we move also towards Easter, we turn from cradle to cross but also beyond, through the cross to the empty tomb. It is already visible, albeit dimly through the darkness still to come. The pin prick of light at the end of every tunnel that shows the way, getting bigger and bigger the nearer we get. Anna saw it in the Temple, she saw the redemption of the world would be so costly to God but also the only way He could bring us back to Him.

6th February 2023

3 john 1:2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

I do like many of the greetings used in science fiction films and stories. The Vulcan, live long and prosper and the Star Wars, may the force be with you. As Christians we may say bless you or may God be with you. There are often many parallels in the Christian story used in literature and films. In Star Wars the family name is Skywalker which means from the heavens. The name Luke, the one who brings Darth Vader back to good, means bringer of light. So, Luke Skywalker is the bringer of light from the heavens. The name Jesus means saviour, Christ means anointed one and is Greek for Messiah which means chosen one. So, Jesus is the chosen and anointed one who comes to save the world. Behind so many names or phrases lie a key message, one which we can miss if we do not look a little deeper. May God bless you. In other words, make you holy and look after you.

5th February 2023

John 14:27 I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

We are much more aware of Mental Health and Wellbeing. One of the areas we need to recognise is to be who we really are. Within each of us there is the me, the part we show to others, the front we often put up, the self we want others to know which is often an act. Then there is myself, who I am in the family, the son or daughter, the friend, the sibling, the parent, who we are has arisen out of how they see us, what they know about us and what is expected of us. Then there is I, the real me, the real you, the person who is alone with our thoughts and ideas, who has the struggles, the feelings, the desires, who have the doubts and who battle at times to believe in ourselves and what we can do. Often the bravado plays out so no one guesses how vulnerable we feel. The trouble is, the longer we play this role the harder our outer shell becomes and the harder it is to find the real person. We all meet those very hardnosed people who have no compassion, we see it daily on our TV screens with politicians who don’t flinch at terrible events who have no compassion or empathy. Society seems to tell us that we have to be hard and unflinching, to compromise our integrity and honesty to achieve. God created who we are, who we really are, all our foibles, strengths and weaknesses, talents and inabilities. None of us are perfect and we are human. Our verse speaks of peace, of not allowing ourselves to worry or be troubled because we have the blessing of others, people to share our experiences with, people to talk to, people to be real with about our feelings, anxieties, weaknesses and strengths. Being honest about how we feel, seeking help, just talking and speaking out our anxieties and feelings is the first step to allowing that peace to come in. 

4th February 2023

1 John 4:4 Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world.

Star Wars is a huge franchise over numbers of years. We still have many figures the boys played with but I was surprised to find that the best selling figure is Darth Vader. As the journey from Anakin to Darth Vader happens one of the Jedi knights tell him “The most powerful thing you possess is your power of choice, the choices you make will determine your destiny.” As you know he makes several very bad choices and becomes evil. BUT hope is never lost, even at the darkest hour. The parallels to the Christian story are marked. It is about choice. The choice of God to create the world, the choice of humans to reject Him. The choice to send Jesus to save us, the choice of people as to whether they accept Him or not. We have the choice to follow the side of good and God or to choose the dark side. Anakin finally came back to good through his son, we have the choice of good every day through the Son who came. May we always choose life.

3rd February 2023

Luke 2; 30 & 31 For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations.

How good are you at recognising people? I admit to being a bit rubbish, especially if I haven’t seen someone for a while. It’s a little amazing to me that Simeon recognised the Messiah in the baby Jesus. Over his many years in the Temple he must have seen lots of babies, 40 days old, tiny and wrinkly, carried into the temple by devout parents. Yet, he knew what he was looking for, God had shown him. Even so he must have imagined something a little more exciting, a great teacher or a charismatic rebel all ready for changing God’s world? But here is a baby, brought to the Temple like so many before him. It is, I think, a mark of Simeon’s true wisdom and discipline, that he does not allow his ideas or his long waiting time to distract him from what God is actually doing. I wonder how many of God’s promises we don’t see fulfilled simply because we aren’t paying attention or because we don’t have eyes and hearts, like Simeon’s, prepared to see God at work in unexpected places. Or maybe we don’t see it because we are so wrapped up in waiting that we lose sight of God and don’t recognise Him at work.

2nd February 2023

Luke 2:34b “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel…and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 

Today, in the church, we celebrate Candlemas and there is an old tradition that today truly ends the Christmas season and by now everyone’s nativity scene should be taken down. This is because today we turn from the Christmas story towards Easter and Good Friday; from Jesus’ birth to Jesus’ death. Today is kind of a pivotal point for the new year, the day when we turn from cradle to cross; birth to death, and Jesus’ presentation at the Temple or Candlemas contains this pivot. At this point, as the infant Messiah is brought in, God’s promise has been fulfilled. A song of praise, light and glory follows but then changes as Jesus future is prophesied and His mother hears how He will suffer and what she will witness. Following Jesus is not just about Christmas; not just light and joy and celebration. It is also about the cross, remembering that following Jesus is also about sacrifice and faithfulness in the face of suffering. Candlemas is the day on which our candles are blessed, marked as signs of the light of Christ in the world to shine out and help us through the darkness yet to come. 

1st February 2023

1 Peter 2:24 Jesus Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds we are healed.

I love the stories behind the items brought to the Repair Shop on BBC. Recently I saw an episode where a lady brought a micro mosaic cross which her father had worn in the war and which stopped a bullet that would have killed him. As a result, the cross was damaged and was broken in two. Quite literally the cross had saved his life. I also remember seeing a small pocket Bible in the Imperial War Museum with a bullet hole, that too, had saved the life of the soldier who carried it in his breast pocket. Quite literally the Bible had saved his life. We often speak of being saved by Jesus, but the context of these two actual situations where a cross and a Bible actually physically saved a life reminds us of the life saving gift of Jesus on the cross. The cross saved a soldier from the bullet, it saves us from death and eternal separation from God, the Bible saved a soldier from a bullet, it saves us from death and brings us life as we learn about our saviour.

31st January 2023

Luke 1:68 He has raised up a mighty saviour for us born of the house of His servant David.

The history of faith carries with it people expressing their praises, ideas and thoughts through song. The Psalms contain so many songs some even have a little musical direction, Song of Songs has love songs and poems. There are sad songs in Lamentations, and many individuals sing out their praises to God and their prophecies. The Benedictus in Luke 1 is one such song. Zechariah, unable to speak for some considerable time because he can’t see God at work, is released from his months of contemplation to praise God and prophesy the coming Saviour. He shouts from the rooftops about God’s faithfulness, of the covenant with Abraham now being fulfilled. He speaks of the coming saviour, of salvation and of the part his own son John will play in preparing the way. We, two thousand years on from this, are privileged to have seen these prophecies come true, we have seen the life, death and resurrection of the Saviour, we have the gospels, letters and the lives of so many saints who have gone before us. As we are saved through Christ, so we become saints who serve, we love and care for others because of what we have come to know, we are God’s hands and feet on this Earth, and we are set free through our Saviour Jesus to live life to its fullest through Him.

Apologies for being behind with posting these, internet connection was lost for a couple of days.

30th January 2023

Matthew 5:15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

There are still too many people in our world living a life in darkness. Too many people still live without hope. Too many of us are consumed by the bad news and it is up to us as Christians to show others who are living in darkness how to find the light. If the people who walk in darkness are going to find the light of God, it is going to be through us. If we hide our light because we don’t want to upset people or answer their questions then they cannot find Jesus for themselves. Jesus clearly calls us to let our light shine for all to see, to share the good news, to share Jesus’ teaching and offer them hope and healing. He also calls us to be like salt, sprinkling into people’s lives the flavour of hope, the preservation of good things. He comes into our darkness, into our turmoil, conflict, chaos and despair and He shines out His love into the darkness, and the darkness, no matter how oppressive or overwhelming it seems, cannot overcome Jesus’ light. Jesus’ time on earth gave us a glimpse of this light and He promised that when He returned, the light would shine fully and completely. So, in the meantime, we can reflect that light. 

29th January 2023

Luke 2:26 It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Have you ever waited for something? Waited for a really long time for something you were really excited about and really wanted? Have you ever waited so long and so hard for something that you almost missed it when it finally arrived? So busy waiting, getting impatient that the real thing almost slipped under your radar. Or perhaps you waited for so long that your attention drifted away. Simeon was waiting to see the Messiah. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit promised it would happen before he died and we know he was an old man. His song sounds like someone who had been waiting a long time, someone filled with anticipation and now filled with long-awaited joy as he takes the infant Jesus into his arms and knows him to be the one, he has been waiting for. He has waited well. Sometimes we need to be patient, to wait well, not lose our focus and not lose our hope because when God makes a promise, He keeps it. He promised Simeon, it took a long time but it happened just as God had promised. Simeon had born witness to the arrival of the Messiah, the salvation of the world. That time had come for him and a new time began for us.

28th January 2023

Matthew 5: 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

When we get good news the first thing we want to do is tell someone, share it. As Christians we have the best good news there is in Jesus and the first thing we should want to do and we are called to do, is to share His love, proclaim the good news we have found, help struggling people find healing, peace and fulfilment. God loves us! God loves the world! Jesus came into the world to be its saviour, to offer us all hope and healing. Our world needs so much healing. Not just physical healing, but spiritual and mental healing too. Jesus invites us to come to Him, to repent, to change our direction and to follow him. And all of us who follow Jesus are told that we are the light of the world. We are reflecting God’s light, and we are to let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven. We found Jesus because someone shared His love with us, pointed us in the right direction. Others will only find Him if we share His love with others and point them in the right direction.

27th January 2023

Deuteronomy 6:7 Teach these ways to your children and talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. We remember the 6 million Jews, the half million Roma people, the quarter of a million disabled people who were murdered as part of the Nazi ‘s final solution. The promoting of hatred and persecution of a group of people to galvanise disillusioned people and thus gain more power and wealth for the ruling few. All done under the guise of nationalism. Yet here we are in 2023 calling people fleeing from persecution and murder illegal immigrants. The children rescued by amazing brave people and brought to this country would now be considered illegal immigrants. We are told that when good people do nothing evil flourishes, the ordinary people of Germany did nothing and evil flourished. Here in the UK as more and more ordinary people do nothing, evil flourishes. The poor get poorer, the rich get richer and those in the middle aspire to be richer and have their anger and disillusionment twisted towards the poor and the refugee. The promise of WW2 was we would not allow genocide to happen again, it has time and again. We said we would learn lessons about freedom and democracy and the protection of both, we haven’t. The Jews learnt from a young age what was right and wrong, so do we, and yet our attention can be so easily grabbed by persecution of others to supposedly save ourselves. We have a choice, to turn a blind eye and make excuses or to make a stand, to fight for the equality of all and to stand for justice and righteousness. 

26th January 2023

Isaiah 6: 2b For those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

In this seemingly dark world sometimes we wonder where is the light? There is darkness in our world. There are still wars, shootings, hatred and division. There is still hunger, poverty, and homelessness. There is still darkness in our world and in our own lives, that health concern we have, for ourselves or a loved one. A struggling relationship, frustrations at work or school. Financial concerns that seem insurmountable, mental health issues, feeling low and lonely. There is still darkness in our world and we need to acknowledge that. Isaiah, was not afraid to acknowledge the darkness in his world. He describes living in deep darkness; civil war, complacency, poverty, arrogance, their leaders didn’t believe that they needed God’s help. If we close our eyes, tight, like the toddler who thinks because they cannot see you, you cannot see them, and we refuse to acknowledge the darkness, then we will see no need for the light, and we have no reason for hope. But there is reason for hope. And there is reason for joy because the light has dawned in the darkness through Jesus.

25th January 2023

Isaiah 9:2a The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

We tend to associate these words with Christmas and Christmas readings. This light does not only show itself through a baby in the manger at Christmas but that child, Jesus, grows up, and proclaims that the kingdom of heaven has come near, and He invites the disciples, the people and us to follow him. We are invited not just to hear this story, but we are invited into the story. We have an invitation to follow the light. Jesus is our light. He lights our way. And when we follow him, we never walk in darkness. No matter how dark things may seem in our life; Jesus still lights our way because He is the light of the world. No matter how dark the tunnel we are in there will always be a pin prick of light pointing us the right way. 

24th January 2023

Matthew 9:14 Then John's disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”

Many of us look at others and wonder why they seem to get away with something we can’t. We ask why others don’t seem to face the issues we do and why rules and laws seem to apply to some more than others. During the pandemic it seemed that our politicians were getting away with doing things the rest of us were forbidden to do. Our motivation for doing things can be ritualistic, we do them because we have do, because traditions and authorities tell us to, where as in our Christian faith it should be about joy and love, out of desire and not duty. Each of us is an individual and God will call us each to His way. That means we will do things differently and at different times. It is not our goodness or service it is God’s goodness and service being worked through us. At this time Jesus disciples did not follow the same rules as the Pharisees and they wanted to know why. Another thing to criticise and judge, but Jesus is clear that things should happen when they are necessary and for the right reasons, not because it was always done this way or because we have to or because religious practices dictate it. We each need to examine before God why we do what we do and our judgement of others for doing things differently, some things will need to change others may not but that is God’s decision, not ours.

23rd January 2023

Philippians 1:6 I am confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

All journey’s have a beginning and an end with varying stops and starts throughout. Life’s journey begins with our birth and then continues until it is completed. Any journey we undertake will stop and start, there can traffic jams, hold ups, boring times and exciting ones, there can be rest stops, accidents, breakdowns, that little voice that calls are we there yet? Along the way we may well meet people, help people, share the load . We often say life is a rollercoaster with its ups and downs, twists and turns, sharp corners and gentle bends. However we look at it life is always moving forward, we age from the day we are born. Plans are made surprises happen, changes are needed, everyone of us has a history, a present and a future. Throughout all these twists and turns, changes, stops and starts God promises to carry on His work in us to completion. No matter what happens we face nothing alone, we have God on our side, and we have one another to help and share the load. God created families in which we grow and learn, are given support and love. The family of God is there to love and support us, help us grow and learn and we are part of that family.

22nd January 2023

John 1: 36 When John saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

John the Baptist is in no doubt that Jesus is the chosen one. He recognises that there is a new purpose, a greater power beyond his calling. He could have been precious about his disciples, wanting to keep them for himself, but instead he shows them the way forward is with Jesus. We can be precious about my church, my way of doing things, my position, my role and in doing so stop others finding their place, finding their role, even finding their faith. John was not lessened by what he gave up and neither are we. We are servants of a greater master, we are chosen, we are called, we are loved and precious for who we are. We are never alone and we are used by God in so many ways if we are willing to let Him use us, willing to see what God is doing and join in.

21st January 2023

John 1:39 a Jesus said to them “Come, and see.”

We all like to be invited to join a group or a party. In John’s Gospel there is an invitation for the first disciples and us to come and see, to find out more about Jesus. The followers of John the Baptist leave John's ministry to follow a new calling and purpose, the Messiah, they start from small, humble, beginnings, a brother brings his brother whose name is changed. Ministry grows, widens and is for everyone. There will always be new ways of doing things and of recognising God, and here a new section of society, those who are not Jews, are being welcomed and invited into God’s family without having to jump through hoops to join. We can be very good at making people jump through hoops to join the church, that was never what God intended. Instead, we should recognise and create a space for new members in God's family to feel drawn to. People meet Jesus through us, through our words and attitudes, our behaviour. Will what they see, hear and experience show Jesus or turn them away.

20th January 2023

1 Corinthians 1:5 For in Him you have been enriched in every way, with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge.

We tend to think that Christians of the early church were somehow better than us, they had it sorted. When Paul writes his letter to the Corinthians church it is in a mess, no church is ever perfect, but Paul recognises their worthiness, telling them and us that we are not valued because of our potential, or what we do, but we are valued because God loves us, unconditionally, completely and utterly. We so easily focus on the future, and while we have potential, what and who we are right now is completely loved and valued by God and we need to remember that. Christ lives in us and we live in Christ. An amazing and wonderful relationship, but we are also part of something much bigger, a new family, a new way of being. God’s family is inclusive and we can learn from anyone at any age or stage of life. Every new person enriches and resources the community, one person does not have all the skills. We work together and we support each other.

19th January 2023

John 10:10 I have come that you might have life in all its fullness.

If I asked you if you live a full life, how would you reply? You might talk about work, being busy, never having time for self. A full life is not necessarily a busy one, it is a life of fulfilment, a life that balances work and rest, that brings joy and happiness, full of love and peace. This is the new type of life Jesus is referring to here. This full life is one that includes more than just self, more than just family, friend and community. It is a life of more than just the familiar. The fullness comes from knowing and embracing all people, those who are different from us, who have different traditions, customs, cultures and ideas. It is about being open minded and open hearted. Life is full of so much colour, so much sound, so many experiences but it is so easy to become blinkered, to not see, hear or experience the richness of life, to side-line ourselves into a singular black and white existence with no richness, diversity or fullness. Life should be a rich vein of experience where eyes are opened and dreams fulfilled, where life is full of hope, where community is promoted and valued, and each life is given dignity and value and where each of us flourishes. Full life includes the full spectrum of human experience, both sorrow and joy, both struggle and success because to really appreciate a full life we need all sides. May we open our eyes, minds and hearts to the rich full life around us as God intended.

18th January 2023

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Sometimes we think that all responsibility for mission and service of God lies with us. We seem to quite happily alleviate God of all responsibility as we become rather over confident of how the church should be run and organised. Yet the ultimate responsibility for mission does not sit with us, or the PCC, or the bishop or any committee or group, it lies with God first and foremost and God is always faithful. We need to be reminded that faith is a two-way relationship; God constantly has faith in us and does not give up on us at the first, second or any sign of failure, and we must continue to have faith in God even when we cannot see clearly or are finding life difficult. We are promised the power of the Holy Spirit to give us the ability and strength we need to share our faith with our family, friends, community and ultimately to the ends of the Earth.

17th January 2023

Romans 15:4 - For whatsoever things were written afore time were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Our traditions and learning have come through centuries of study, discussion, oral conversation and writing. People have recorded their experiences, their learning and study so that others might benefit. The scriptures, or Bible, have come from writings and traditions over many centuries and millennia. Some of this is in the form of laws, some is poetry and song, some is story and recollection, some is prophecy and some accounts of events. It is there to help us, there to establish the relationship of God to His people, there to encourage a cohesive and welcoming society. As with everything opinion will filter into writing. Even the most factual recollection will be influenced by opinion which is why accounts of events differ or are recalled with a differing importance. A doctor writing a gospel will do so differently from a fisherman but yet so many things align to open our eyes to a wider arch of the fundamental story. God creates a free people for a relationship, one which is lost by selfish behaviour and yet is never forgotten. God’s love of His people meant timely interventions and ultimately the sacrifice of His own son to restore that relationship. The scriptures show us that story, show us the human selfish condition and teach us how to live as better people. The scriptures offer hope and learning but through patience because we have opinions and those filter into our interpretation of God and His word. As we read the scriptures may we do so with an open mind, with patience and ready to learn and to be comforted.

16th January 2023

Isaiah 49:6b I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

When studying for ministry a lot is made of Missio Dei, God’s mission. In the Old Testament God's missional enterprises are made clear and we are invited to join in. Things move from the local to the global. Witnessing to Israel is not enough, we are all called and chosen to be a light to the world to the ends of the earth, to the whole of creation. God chooses people despite, and because of their background; anyone can be called, this is not just for the select few. We can be People who have been struggling, been waiting in vain, feeling stuck, facing uncertainty, seemingly with no voice but we are assured time and again that God knows us, named us and loved us from the very beginning to the very end. God recognises our effort and exhaustion, but still calls us. God is our strength, equipping us with specialist tools and gifts to be used as we need.

15th January 2023

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace that we have all been saved.

When I go out very early I used to get dressed in the dark, laying out clothes the night before. That has meant on occasions I have gone without my clergy collar or my cross, sometimes without my purse or money and sometimes without my keys. In an attempt not to disrupt anyone else or wake them to early I try to be quick and quiet. Usually all was well but if did manage to forget something it could mess up the rest of the day. It was also possible to be wearing odd socks but, thankfully, never odd shoes. Often in our attempts to be selfless we can cause more of a problem. In an attempt to help others we can forget the importance of our own presentation and readiness for work or activity. As with everything in life we need compromise. I moved my clothing etc ready for the next day into the bathroom where I can have the light on and not disturb anyone. Finding ways that help others and ourselves is vital to our way of living. God does not want us to sacrifice our own readiness and reliability because we are trying too hard to benefit others. God offers us not only fruits of the Spirit to show to others but also to ourselves. Being kind to self is so important because we are nicer people with others when we are nicer to ourselves. We love others far better when we love ourselves, we are more peaceful with others when we are peaceful ourselves. It is not selfish to take care of oneself, in fact it is vital if we are to minister effectively to others.

14th January 2023

Matthew 2:13 An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

When people find Jesus and give their lives to Him things change, becoming a Christian means lives need to change, attitudes, ideas but all in God’s time. Once we find Him, we must learn to listen, to read and study the scriptures, read and understand the prophesies and learn to listen to God and where he wants us to go next. Joseph heard God tell him to flee for his family’s safety, The Magi heard God tell them not to go back to Herod and they returned home another way. People heard God time and again and changed their direction of travel. We also need to hear God and change our view and our direction of travel by listening to God. Lives change because of experiences; our lives should change because of our experiences; because of prayer, reading our Bible, coming together to worship and what we learn and know about God. The challenge of every meeting with God, every prayer, every study is where does God want us to go next? And are we willing to go?

13th January 2023

Matthew 2:10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

Throughout the Christmas story and beyond we meet people who have their eyes opened and their lives changed by the coming of Jesus the King. It can do the same for us. We can learn, realise, discover and change. The wise men, for example, studied scriptures, prophecies, stars, light and it set them on a course to find the King. Their arrival brought worship, treasure and gifts of a kingly and appropriate nature. Their arrival at Jesus nativity brings light, dawn light, star light, divine light just as had been prophesied. These Wise men, these kings left their home, their comfort, their wealth, their nice lives to find a King and bring Him gifts. It was that important to them. How important is Jesus Christ to us? Are we willing to give up our comfort, wealth, nice lives to find our King and do we bring gifts? Are we willing to learn, to read, to pray to seek God’s way in our lives, are we willing to have our eyes opened and our lives changed by Jesus?

12th January 2023

Isaiah 60: 6b And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.

We often don’t realise that the prophecies that are in the Old Testament speak of what is to come, of Jesus coming and His death and resurrection. Isaiah 60 is one of my favourite prophecies about Jesus’ birth because it preserves and declares the teaching of inclusion. The Jews were very insular about who was included and who was excluded in their religion, God made it clear through His prophets and teachers that He wanted everyone to be included in His love and forgiveness, no matter where they were from or their religious tradition, their culture, gender, race, age or life choices. God is absolutely clear, all are welcome in God’s family. Contrary to what we might want to think and believe, religious leaders, followers, Christians of long standing or short, we are not the gate keepers or judges who decide who God accepts. He makes that decision, not us. God is a God of inclusion and we, as His people, must be the same.

11th January 2023

Psalm 72:4 May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.

I strongly believe that the prosperity of all people can only truly abound when every citizen is able to share in the blessings. When all share in the prosperity then all share in justice. In this Psalm, a prayer for the king, there are many images of flourishing and abundance, fruitful hills and drenched fields, these fill us with a longing for security and plenty for everyone. The king is painted as defender, protector and provider. Achieving justice for the afflicted, defending the vulnerable from oppression, rescuing children from poverty, these are the criteria which define true kingship and true leadership. If our elected leaders are not fulfilling these qualities then they must be challenged and their hearts changed. If our hearts desire God’s ways, they will desire justice for all, not just the wealthy; equality of all no matter their race, creed or gender, for all our children to be fed well and for no one to suffer because of where they were born in society. This is an urgent need, one which we are called to stand up for on a daily basis.

10th January 2023

Psalm 72: 10 May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to him. May the kings of Sheba and Seba present him gifts.

Isaiah and Psalms clearly speak of the Kings who will come, Kings from a Gentile nation, not a Jewish one. The inclusion of everyone has been in God’s plan from early on, It was clearly there for those not Jewish in the Old Testament but the Jews had never included them. The Gentiles, as they were called, did not even know they were called Gentiles, hey were just not of the Jewish tradition. Inclusion was important to God, even in the Old Testament and as the early Christian faith develops, prophets, writers and St Paul speak of inclusion. In the early church Jews and Gentiles clashed on circumcision, traditions, rules on food and clothes. Early church leaders disagreed, but God’s inclusion of everyone is there, clearly, for all to see. Even today inclusion is much easier to talk about than it is to actually do because there is a huge cost to those we exclude and to us as it challenges our views and ideas. If God wants everyone included then who are we to do and say otherwise.

9th January 2023

Matthew 2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.

Each year in the New Year we celebrate Epiphany, we celebrate it on the same day as the Orthodox church celebrates Christmas. We also use it as the day on which to take down our decorations. The term Epiphany means appearing, the coming of a divine being to the world. In the traditional Prayer Book it is called the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. Epiphany is shorter and perhaps better for our understanding. We tend to use the word today to mean a sudden, unexpected realisation of something. We have “an Epiphany” moment. The festival we celebrate each year is the witnessing of Gentile Kings or Magi to the coming of the Christ, the Messiah. These men, not of the Jewish faith, journey from the ends of the known world to search for a king, they make a pilgrimage. We can make our own pilgrimage, maybe not across nations, but to church, in our worship, through our regular prayer. We can make a physical or spiritual pilgrimage. The question is do we want to make the effort.

8th January 2023

Isaiah 7.10 & 11 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights."

How many times have I heard those words, “God loves a cheerful giver!” Usually when someone is trying to guilt me into giving to their cause. By making us feel we will score points with God we can be softened into giving. Let’s turn this on its head because God also loves a joyful and cheerful receiver. In the Old Testament God offers many promises and prophecies to His people. Ahaz is being promised peace by God, and is even offered the opportunity to receive a sign to reassure him to put his trust in God and not in human armies. He is very grumpy and with false religiousness turns down the generous offer made by God. A foolish choice! Instead, he put his trust in the King of Assyria’s armies to save his kingdom. It turned out to be the wrong choice, but God gave his sign anyway, because the choice is always ours to make. God promises Immanuel, God with us in Human form, given to save the world at great cost. We always have the choice as to whether we receive Jesus, whether we trust in Him and receive His joy and peace. We can put our trust in humans and armies and wealth or we can put our trust in Jesus. The choice is ours.

7th January 2023

Revelation 21:5 Behold, I am making all things new!

At this time of year lots of folks wish each other a Happy New Year. It is traditional, polite and a positive greeting. That little word, new, has huge implications. When we buy something new, we expect it to be pristine, perfect and undamaged. If it isn’t we return it and expect a replacement that is. We all love a new book without the crinkled pages, we like to have a new bottle of aftershave or perfume, a new pen and paper, new socks, new clothes, new furniture, a new car is something really special. New has so much promise attached to it! As we begin a new year it offers the opportunity to make a fresh start, it has promise and hope that things will be better, happier, easier and we will be better people. God’s promise of making all things new resonates with us because we desire that hope, that promise of better. We know we are not perfect, we make mistakes, we mess up, but the promise of new gives us hope, allows us to not give up our quest for better, but instead gives us a daily renewal, offers us a new start every time things go wrong. As you wish people a Happy New Year, be reminded that newness is available to us all every day, every moment of every day, from God who wants us to live as new, hopeful, happy people always.

6th January 2023

Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

I received word today of the passing of an old friend. We had been in contact for more than 30 years but she never shared her terminal diagnosis with us because she didn’t want any of us to worry. In fact, all her preparations for her funeral have been so as not to inconvenience anyone. This is typical of her, you could always find food, support, sanctuary and love at any time in her home. She was one of life’s real angels. It is amazing how some people never make a fuss, always think of others and losing them from this world is difficult and very sad. God reminds us time and again that we are chosen, precious, fellow citizens with the saints; not because of anything we have done but because of God’s saving love for us. As God’s created beings we carry our creator within us, all humans carry God in them but some carry that imprint far more obviously than others. Some shine more with His love than others. We all have the option to be members of His household but sadly some still choose to remain strangers and aliens and not to let God be part of their lives.

5th January 2023

Isaiah 43:1 But now, says the Lord, who created you, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

At this time of year I go through the Christmas cards and check for any change of address or messages people have sent. Where the front can be used for a tag next year I cut them up ready and put with the Christmas stuff for next Christmas. I often find short messages from people just letting us know anything major or if they are in need. Sadly, I also find each year that some folk don’t send a card, maybe they moved and forgot to let us know, maybe things have changed. I only give up sending a card if we don’t hear for 3 years. With the postal issues this year I am still receiving late cards which help me know folk are still there. It is easy after many years to forget people, to think they are no longer want to hear from us, but it always saddens me when we no longer know where someone is or how they are. At some point we all lose contact with folk who may have been so important to us in the past. I hope not to forget anyone and I keep names and addresses in our book even when we no longer hear from them. I try not to forget, I try to be reminded when I use the book. Sadly, I am human. I am glad to say that God never forgets any of us, even if He doesn’t hear from us for a while, He doesn’t stop sending messages to us, He never forgets us even if we forget Him. God knows everyone of us and never forgets, so we can always make contact again, we can always turn back to Him.

4th January 2023

Matthew 2.18 A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.

In God’s incredible grace, the cost of sin is met, and we are invited to live differently, to live in new ways and have a secure future. But who actually pays? In our current political situation, it is the ordinary people who pay for the mistakes of the wealthy and powerful. We remember after Christmas that King Herod causes the little boys to pay in this awful narrative of a jealous King who will do anything to remain in power. He has power, the infants do not. Herod cannot accept the good news brought to him by the wise men, so the innocent ordinary children suffer at the hands of the powerful and wealthy King. As we look at our world, beautiful but marred by sin and injustice, who pays for the high levels of consumption and waste this festive season? We know it is the environment and the poorest members of our society, those who have least will always pick up the tab. As Christians we believe that Jesus offers us a different and deeper reality, where God in His gracious generosity breaks the cycle. In God’s grace, the cost is met, in full, in Jesus, and we are invited into new, impartial, honest and true ways of living.

3rd January 2023

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as His children.

The process of taking everything down from Christmas has begun. Decorations and lights come down, the baubles come off the tree and they are boxed up for another year. The cards are taken down and either thrown away, recycled or turned into next year’s gift tags. For many years we have left something up throughout the year as a reminder that although we celebrate Christmas once a year it is central to our faith and it should impact on that faith all through our lives, every day. It might be some bells, a small tree, a few lights, a nativity representation, it could be anything but it reminds me that Christmas is part of every day. The events we read about over the Christmas period actually took place over a much longer period of time, the Angel’s visit was 9 months before, the wise men’s journey took months and months, Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem for a considerable time after Jesus was born before fleeing as refugees to Egypt. The story we read and talk about over a few Christmas weeks actually took place over a long period of time. The prophecies came in centuries before the event and we continue with our celebration’s centuries later. Of course we take down our decorations because they make Christmas the special time it should be each year, but may we not forget to carry it in our hearts and lives every day as central to our faith and belief.

2nd January 2023.

2 Corinthians 4:8&9 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

When it snowed in December how did you react or feel? Overjoyed, excited, disappointed, worried? The folk I was with were concerned and worried, how to get home safely, their children were, of course, excited, but even those who were worried got stuck in, adapted and got themselves home. The human spirit is an amazing thing. These verses reflect that; in the early church Christians were often in terrible danger of prison, torture and death but they did not give up. They had a hope, a belief in God, in Jesus and were prepared to stick it out no matter the consequences. Of course, they had their moments of doubt, of question, we all do. John The Baptist, arguably Jesus biggest fan, gets put in prison and asks the question of Jesus are you the one we are waiting for? Gods promised one? Building our resilience, keeping going, doesn’t mean we don’t doubt, don’t want to give up, don’t struggle, but it does mean we develop the reserves to keep going in the difficult times. We look for and ask for help, we look for hope and we push on through. We take each day a step at a time, ask for help when it is needed and remember it is okay to have doubts and questions, it’s okay to get upset, to let off steam, it is okay not to be okay. From the very recognition of our situation comes more strength, more resilience to enable us to keep going.

1st January 2023. New Years Day.

Mark 2:4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.

At this time of New Year we are reminded how important our loved ones are to us. We will generally do anything for those we love, our family and friends, because we want what is best for them. The four friends of the paralysed man are so desperate for his healing that they break open the roof so that he can get to Jesus. This exciting but unorthodox entrance, is the beginning of a real drama. Jesus tells the paralysed man that his sins are forgiven, which brings anger from the religious folk because only God can forgive sins and no one can actually see if it is happening to the paralysed man or not. But telling him to get up and walk, that is vastly different. It is instantly obvious whether Jesus is a liar or genuine. Jesus is putting His reputation on the line because He knows the truth and is completely secure in it. This is a challenge to our discipleship as we move forward into 2023. We all need forgiveness from sins. But we must also stand up and be counted and be completely secure in our faith. We need to be bold in our claims about Jesus and to be prepared to back them up with evidence; and to go into 2023 knowing that our faith actually makes a difference in everyday life and that it does change things for good. May God bless you in this New Year!

31st December 2022. New Years Eve.

Psalm 31:14 I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, “You are my God! My future is in your hands”

As the end of 2022 approaches, I wonder how you feel? Sad that another year is over or excited for another new year to begin, maybe a bit of both. People begin to ask what resolutions we are going to make and I know that I am not going to make any at all. I learned years ago that resolutions end up just dragging me back down as I fail to keep them. I will still celebrate New Year and rejoice in God giving us yet another new start. On New Years eve many thousands of Christians will hold a watchnight service, which sees the old year out and the new year in with God, offering thanks for so much in the past year but also offering to God the opportunities of the coming year. The opportunity to reflect on the past that we did not know a year ago, and pray for the future to come and all its opportunities. To remember all those we have lost in this past year, all those we miss so much, all those blessings we have received and the celebrations we were able to have. And now we start again, not knowing what lies ahead but knowing who holds that future in His safe hands. Knowing we can trust God, who created us and loves us to death and beyond. I may not make any resolutions, that is a personal choice, but I will watch, wait, trust and hope in God for 2023.

30th December 2022

Luke 2:11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born for you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Over Christmas I have watched several versions of Dicken’s Christmas Carol. I love it as a story and it speaks very much about second chances and giving out of our riches to others. The contrast between this and the one found in Luke’s gospel, is that Dickens tells us how we should give to others, and that is incredibly important, but in Luke, we learn how essential it is to see ourselves at first, as receivers. Receivers of the saviour Jesus into our loves. That’s quite tough, we’d rather see ourselves as capable, self-sufficient, generous, caring givers who are doing our best as Christians. But the nativity, the good news of Jesus coming, is for poor, needy, empty people who open their hands to the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. We must first recognise that we are needy, poor, empty people who need to receive Jesus before we can give out to others. Christmas, literally means the mass, or sending out of Jesus into the world and that is done through us. As we receive Him so we can go out in His strength bringing Him to the world and giving to others out of the abundance we have been given by God.

29th December 2022

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.”

Have you got the Christmas blues yet? That let down that comes after Christmas and before new year. We tend to build up huge events which can mean normal things can seem boring. Once the fun and excitement of presents and food is over, then what? When the Angels came to the Shepherds, announced Jesus birth and then praised God they remind us of the fact that Jesus birth means all humans have the opportunity to find peace and favour with God. The Good News of Christmas did not begin and end in the stable in Bethlehem. It was the beginning of a wonderful, all-encompassing true story that would continue for over two thousand years! Jesus came, in an unassuming and humble way, as a vulnerable new-born. God’s promise fulfilled in Jesus. After the meeting, life resumed as normal for the wise men, the humdrum life continued for the shepherds. Only Joseph and Mary witnessed a permanent change in their lives. Actual, normal life happens between the highpoints. Most of life is lived in the work-a-day reality. The Messiah has come and so we can enjoy the peace of God and peace with God. We can walk in His favour, His goodwill, His love, every day of our lives! We cannot live on the mountain top every day but these experiences do give us the encouragement and blessing to enable us to live out normal lives for Jesus each day.

28th December 2022

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

At Christmas each year we remember Jesus, who was not just an idea but an event in history, God came among us into the real life, the mundane, the pain, the suffering, the hurt, the joy. Fully human in a human world. This child, born weak and helpless, is God putting Himself at our mercy. Light and truth is not spread by anger, humiliation and beating people into submission; Light and truth lives and grows where humility, compassion, vulnerability, honesty and love flourish. Where there is hatred, anger, bullying, rhetoric, lies, brutishness, God is not there, not in that darkness; but He comes to shine a light through this child of light and love, this child of compassion and vulnerability, this child of grace and peace, this child born to be our saviour if we choose Him. This is why we celebrate this baby, why we remember Christmas, literally the mass of Christ, the sending out of Christ through us the people of God. As Jesus came to us on that first Christmas, so we are sent out to share the Christ we have found with all. This Baby born in Bethlehem is our Saviour. This baby is our redemption. This baby, the first Christmas present, is God’s gift to us all. Every baby is a symbol of new life, this baby, this child is the reason for our new life and our eternal life.

27th December 2022

Isaiah 9 we are told The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, on them his light shined.

We read in John’s Gospel about the Word, with God, was God from the very beginning. Jesus the Word made flesh who came from God and became one of us on that first Christmas. It was here that God sent His son to save us. This living word was part of creation, the light, the life, the divine discourse and reason, someone of God’s wisdom to be listened to and respected. God promises a light in the darkness. Someone who will fight for His people, someone who will live as human and divine, someone who will defeat death and sin, someone who will pay the necessary price for humankind’s wrongdoing and turning away from God. This someone, born of a virgin, called Jesus, will save his people from their sins. The great mystery of Christmas is that God who is love and truth, grace and peace is not some distant impersonal being standing apart from us and global events and personal tragedies that shape and affect our lives. No, in the birth of Jesus, God has come among us in his son. Giving flesh and form to these events in human life so we can not only feel His love, hear His truth, experience His grace and share His peace, but know these things are possible for us and available to us.

26th December 2022. Boxing Day.

Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and he shall be Immanuel." Which means "God with us."

"What Child Is This?" What's the big deal with a child born in a manger over two thousand years ago? Why all the songs, carols, presents and bells? So far in 2022 135 and half million babies have been born. The most popular day for babies to make their entrance into this world is Tuesdays then Monday. Sunday is the slowest day, September the most popular month. So, Why is this baby, Jesus, born in Bethlehem approximately 2020 years ago, the Child that we celebrate every Christmas? 135 million babies born this year and we're singing about one child born over two thousand years ago, far away in the Middle East. Why do people make such a fuss about this one baby? We read in When Jesus Christ was born Matthew says, "This is it. This is the child. This is the child that will be God with us." The reason we make such a big deal about this child is because the child born in a manger over 2,000 years ago in a place called Bethlehem is God with us. Both Human and divine. He experiences everything we do. He understands what we go through, He opens the way back to God and defeats death.

25th December 2022. Christmas Day.

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming from the Father.

Today you will open presents from family, friends and loved ones. We will receive gifts we love and some we are not so sure about. On Christmas Day every year there is one Perfect Gift. He was born a long time ago in a little town by the name of Bethlehem. This Perfect Gift had been predicted to come thousands of years before He arrived. Since His arrival this Gift has been opened by millions of people but yet many millions more have never opened it, never chosen to receive that gift. Have you opened the Perfect Gift? That Perfect Gift is Jesus. There is no sense in trying to be clever about it. We all try to get hints as to what is in the gifts that have our name on them. We all hope that at least one present under that tree is for us. We sing Carols about this wonderful gift every year and yet so many leave one lonely package under the tree. This gift from God for each of us has each of our names on it, the question is, are we going to leave it there, or open it?

24th December 2022 Christmas Eve

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Some of you will have spent many hours this Christmas season searching for the perfect gift. You will have browsed through store after store or web site after web site. You want it to be just right. Based on what the person you are giving the gift to needs, you want it to be, perfect. Maybe you have received the perfect gift. You have that memory of the time when someone surprised you with a gift you will never forget. As a child it may have been a toy that you just thought you had to have. I still have the Jasmin Bunny I was given as a 6-year-old, she has been my constant companion ever since. Here’s how it is supposed to work on a perfect Christmas morning. You get up on Christmas morning and you find packages underneath a tree. They are wrapped in colourful paper with ribbons and bows. A minor distraction when it comes time to open the gift. Up until that moment they are a mystery. You may shake them and listen closely to detect some telling sound that would give away the secret but gifts are meant to be opened. They are not a gift until they are received. God offers us the gift of Jesus but we have to receive Him and accept Him. If, this Christmas, you leave a package wrapped and unopened it will be useless. Don’t leave Jesus under the tree this Christmas.

23rd December 2022

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

How are your Christmas plans coming along? Are you ready? We do like to be ready for the family, the guests, plenty of food and gifts, expecting people at certain times. God did not wait until everyone was ready for his son to be born. God did not wait until the world was ready, or until Joseph was ready, or until Mary was ready. And that is a good thing, if He had we would still be waiting. God helped Joseph and Mary to become ready. The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream to help him find his way. The angel appeared to Mary and told her God’s plan. The angel addressed Joseph as “son of David,” reminding Joseph that God’s plan was always to bless the world through a descendent of David, and Joseph would be that descendent; but it is the last thing he expected. The angel told Joseph that Mary would bear a son, and that he should be named Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins.” That is literally what Jesus’ name means. And it is why he was born. To save us from our sins. To heal our broken world. God did not wait for everyone to be ready the first time and He is not going to wait for us to be ready before He comes again.

22nd December 2022

Matthew 2:13 An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt."

How do you react to difficult news? Often we react very quickly before knowing the full story and that can completely wreck a viable situation where we have got the wrong end of the stick. Engaged to Mary, Joseph’s life had taken a very unexpected turn, in the blink of an eye, and he really wasn’t sure how to proceed. I suspect that most of us can relate to Joseph. Most of us have had something happen in our lives that took us off our planned route, and left us without a map or a clue about how to proceed. Life has a way of doing that, doesn’t it? What Joseph would later find out is that God had a plan for him the whole time. It wasn’t Joseph’s original plan, but this was much better. When life takes us on a detour, it is very comforting to remember that God has a plan, that God is still in control. And when we believe that, and trust God, there is no detour too great to cause us to lose our way. Christmas means, among many other things, that God is full of surprises and we must never jump in too quickly when we do not know the full story. Our world does not have to be orderly or predictable for God to enter it. He is there in every situation, ready to show us all we need to know to be part of His plan.

21st December 2022

Matthew 1:19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

When Mary was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit, Joseph was completely blindsided. I suspect that nothing could have shocked him more. Joseph might well have been counting down the days to his wedding; he might have had the big day circled in his calendar. But then there came this curve ball from out of the blue, that completely upended his plans, and ultimately overturned his entire life. Hurt and confused by what Mary had seemingly done, Joseph planned to dismiss her quietly. He did this because he didn’t want to expose her to public disgrace. He cared for Mary, but now he could not have her as his wife. How could he, now that she was found to be pregnant? Think of how devastated Joseph must have been by this turn of events! All of his hopes and dreams; all the plans he had for his life, had suddenly disappeared. And the girl that he thought he knew and loved suddenly seemed to be somebody that he didn’t know at all. Joseph is a compassionate, caring man and even in the midst of something awful he does not want to punish someone or hurt them. Thankfully Joseph's fears are unfounded and in God's strength he becomes the earthly father of our Saviour Jesus.

20th December 2022

Isaiah 44:22 I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.

We have had the usual round of Christmas adverts from the various stores. I particularly like Lidl Bear, partly because I am a huge fan of Teddy bears and very much appreciate the little girl missing her treasured bear, but also because of the story of redemption in those few moments. A bear who finds fame, suddenly has everything it seems, lives the life so many of us think we want and then realises he actually had everything he needed to begin with. He returns home on Christmas morning to the complete joy of his little girl. Sometimes we think that the glitter in front of us is all we want, we long for fame and fortune, and then we begin to realise it is not all it promises to be. We long for what we had, those we loved and who loved us, those who accepted us for who we are. We begin to realise our mistake and want to turn around and go back. Sometimes this is really hard to do, but with Jesus the opportunity for redemption is always there. We can always turn back, always find the way back with God who will be overjoyed that we have come back to Him. 

19th December 2022

Matthew 1:18a This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about.

The last Sunday of Advent is a time when we get an early Christmas present in our worship and in our scripture readings. Because the readings finally get around to the celebration at the heart of Christmas: the birth of Jesus. We finally get the Christmas story recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, not Luke’s. Luke’s story is told from Mary’s perspective. Matthew’s is told from Joseph’s perspective. Both stories are about the same miraculous birth, but they emphasise different things. Just as if any Mum were to tell the story of their child’s birth, they would tell different things from the Dad. Joseph’s side of the story teaches us about the miracle of Christmas. The surprise gift of Christmas. Joseph’s account reminds us that the birth of Jesus was completely unexpected. Not just for Mary, but for Joseph, and really for everyone. That first Christmas was a surprise in all sorts of ways. Advent calendars can make it seem like Christmas comes in a very orderly and predictable way. But the first Christmas was anything but orderly, and definitely not expected.

Isaiah 35:3 Strengthen the weary hands and make firm the feeble knees.

Sometimes when I read the Bible a verse will really jump out at me, this is one those. As I get older I find both the strength in my hands and the movement of my knees has deteriorated. I can’t always open the jars now; I find kneeling really hard and going up and down stairs is not as easy as it used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I am still fit and healthy but the gazelle like bounding up the stairs is definitely no longer happening. Here in Isaiah, we are reminded that God sees these weary hands and feeble knees and hears our prayers to strengthen them. When we need that extra strength, that extra energy God can and will step in. Sometimes the weariness and feebleness come from Spiritual and mental struggles, again God is there to strengthen us. This verse makes me smile, makes me realise that God’s word has so many things in it about normal people. Thank you, Lord.

17th December 2022

Matthew 8:16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.

For many folk Jesus is seen as a good man, a miracle worker, a healer. Even those who don’t believe usually accept He did some amazing things. As Christians, if we accept Jesus as the Son of God, as part of the triune God who is responsible for creation and the natural world, then we understand how He was able to do miracles, to heal people. He has power over the very nature He created. Today we possess so much science that offers us miraculous healing. Things which wiped out huge numbers of people, now cured, operations unthought of even 20 years ago now happening. The things of today are the miracles of the past, as we move on in our God given intelligence, learning new things, developing new techniques and drugs, we turn miracles into ordinary life. We are so used to it we forget just how miraculous it is. God offers us physical and mental healing through medicines, medical professionals, science, the help of others. He is still a God of miracles, we are just very good at giving humans and science the credit. God provided the intelligence, the resources and the ability to develop these things and it is that which allows us to advance miracles of healing so regularly.

16th December 2022

Psalm 54:4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.

When I was in college, I often did a shift at the bar, as evenings went on folk would become more inebriated and then some would be very joyful and comedic, others would become quite maudlin. It was as if the alcohol made them dwell more on the difficulties in their lives than the joys. People I know who struggle with alcohol talk about drinking to forget but say that the more you drink the more your mind dwells on your problems. In recent years we have finally begun to take mental health seriously but the pandemic and cost of living crisis, the lack of money and huge bills mean people are in more need now than ever, both practically and mentally. As usual the Government help in these areas is non-existent, with schools and work places now funding their own with even less money. Forgetting our problems may bring some relief initially but they never go and nothing is really achieved. All I know is that God promises a peace, not all the answers or solutions, but a way of coping which allows us to stay the course and to think outside the box. God does not promise everything always perfect and wonderful, but He does promise, strength, peace, help and encouragement. He also gives us others to help, to listen, to support and we must never feel we cannot ask for help when we need it. God offers His help through others, just remember that knock on the door, that envelope, that delivery may be from God’s helpers, the angels of this work He has provided to help us.

15th December 2022

Luke 15:17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!

Recently I was reminded of the Mazes we visited with the children. If you think of navigating a maze, to find the exit, we will take many wrong turns, sometimes even the same ones, but these wrong turns ultimately help us move through the maze and get to the exit. Similarly, in life, wrong turns can redirect us onto something greater, a better clearer path. It is also the case that those who experience hardship, struggles and wrong turns in life often develop more resiliency, more determination, and more courage. Making a wrong turn, facing failure, rarely means the end of something and often it can be the beginning of something new and often better, because it offers us the option to try again, to gain wisdom, to learn and progress. The prodigal son came to a realisation. He realised he could still have a place in his father’s estate where he would be better off than he was now. What he didn’t realise until he got home is that his father’s love is so unconditional that even in his failure he is still welcomed, still loved, still valued, he is not given up upon. However, much society may judge us by our perceived successes and failures, in God’s eyes we are loved and accepted for who we are. Navigating life’s maze means making mistakes, errors and failures, but we should not be afraid of these, but rather in God’s grace, use them as a springboard to find another way.

14th December 2022

Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The snow on Sunday night as I came home from church was both welcome, I love the snow, but also worrying, as I was travelling on quickly disappearing roads. When it came it came hard and fast, fortunately I was near enough to home, but others quickly became stranded on motor ways in Kent. I did not expect it, the weather I had seen suggested a little flutter maybe and also, we never get much snow this near to London. Many of us were surprised and caught unawares. How we react when things happen suddenly says a lot about us. Those who are always prepared, blanket, food and water in the car, those with nothing, those who kept on going and trying and those who stopped as soon as a little white stuff fluttered down. In faith we need to be prepared for anything, expect the unexpected as they say. At any time, Jesus could return, at any time there could be an emergency, someone who needs our help, a job that God wants us to do. Being a Christian is not a sit back and relax faith, but an action-based faith. We are called to help, to minister, to act for others and to share God’s love through practical loving ways. We may never know the consequences of all we do for others but God sees and encourages and supports, giving all we need to be people of practical faith, who are always ready and prepared.

13th December 2022

Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart fail: but God is the strength of my heart, and my Lord for ever.

When we fail it can feel really uncomfortable or seem like a deeply personal setback. Have you ever looked on failure as a steppingstone to success through growth and opportunities to try again. While its challenging, failure is often inevitable, whether it comes as a missed deadline, a calculation error, an interview without a job offer or that wrong reaction which caused so much hurt. Knowing how to accept and appreciate failure can help us use it as a learning opportunity. We can see failure as not getting the desired outcome and the opposite of success, but our definition of success includes wealth and prosperity rather than happiness and wellbeing. Acknowledging the feelings associated with failure is an important step in gaining emotional intelligence and the ability to recognise the impact it has. Failures often lead to success because they allow us to test and try what doesn't work and to discover what does. As Christians we will need to learn and change as we grow in faith. Experiencing failure might be painful initially, but without it, we might well miss the many benefits it can bring. God knows we are not perfect and that we will fail, thankfully He accepts us as we are, failures and all, always ready to help when we call to Him.

12th December 2022

Matthew 12:34b For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

I wonder how many times you have been asked what’s in your heart? We are told that the words we speak reflect what is in our hearts. We can only pretend for so long with false smiles and trying to be nice, but eventually the Scrooge or Grinch inside will come out if it’s there. The real us is reflected in how we behave, how we speak to others. If we are foul mouthed constantly then we need to examine our hearts, if we are happy to ridicule, speak ill of or be nasty to others under the guise of fun or banter then we need to examine our hearts. I was always told; if you cannot say anything good then say nothing. What we say matters, by our very words we will be judged, if we lie, ridicule, make fun, criticise then we will have to face up to that before God. As is often said it is better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to open our mouths and remove any doubt. None of us are perfect, we will say the wrong thing sometimes, the problem is when we are doing it almost all the time because then it is what is in our heart that is fueling what we say and that needs to change.

10th December 2022

Isaiah 11:1 A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

People have often been forewarned of events, of what might happen if things don’t change. Right now, we are being warned of the terrible changes in our climate unless we change how we live and quickly. People were foretold of the coming Messiah, of Jesus being born, but people easily ignored many of the prophecies about the Messiah that did not fit with their way of thinking. Kings aren’t born in stables, only palaces, kings are rich, kings have power to destroy. Kings don’t serve. Kings don’t take an interest in the poor or challenge the status quo. Jesus does not fit into the picture they had made for themselves. Jesus often does not fit into the picture we draw for ourselves. We want the power, the authority, the riches, but not the servanthood, the ridicule, the challenge. As much as we spend Advent preparing for Xmas, we are also supposed to be preparing for his return. Making sure we don’t fall into the trap like those who forgot about the Messiah because of the time frame. We need to always be prepared, to live as Christians ready for Jesus both this Christmas and every day. 

9th December 2022

Matthew 3:3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”’

What have you done to prepare for Christmas so far? Any trees up? Decorations? Presents bought? Presents packed? Have you been opening your Advent Calendar? As part of the preparation for Jesus first coming at Bethlehem, there were prophecies, His coming was foretold. Isaiah spoke of the virgin who would bear a son, and Him being from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of David, called Emmanuel. Micah spoke of Bethlehem as the place He would be born, Malachi spoke of the forerunner who would prepare the way. These are just a few. There are many more prophecies about His life, miracles, death and resurrection. These prophecies were given so people could get ready for the Messiah, for Jesus. We prepare for things when we know they are coming, people coming for dinner, packed lunches for school or work, doing homework, preparing for a baby to come, getting ready for a new job. Where possible we should always be prepared. As people got ready for the messiah, they prepared, unfortunately they also forgot when it took longer than they wanted.

8th December 2022

Luke 2:13,14 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

Around this time of year, I tend to get asked what my favourite Christmas carol is. I admit that each year I tend to find a carol will jump out at me, have a different message for me. I do love all the carols, certain one’s fit perfectly in certain services. This year the carol that is rattling round in my consciousness is “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. The carol picks up on the themes of war and peace which seem very relevant to the Ukraine situation and the lack of peace in so many places at present. It speaks of two thousand years of wrong, of man at war with man hears not the love song which the angels bring. The final verse reminds us of the age to come, an age of peace when all will finally hear and join in with the song of the angels. I wish I could rise over the strife in Ukraine and say oh hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing. We may not be able to physically do this but we can pray for it, we can raise the people who want nothing more than the strife to stop and for their freedom to be returned, raise them to the Lord. We can pray for the age of Gold to come and peace to be over all. If you get a chance to sing this carol this year please do look at the words and remember those whose Christmas is blighted by war.

7th December 2022

1 Peter 2:16a Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil.

I recently went to see the London Production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Still my favourite childhood Story. I was reminded of how easy it is for us not to take responsibility for our actions and in doing so put others at risk. One of the four key children in the story succumbs to the charms of the evil White Witch and in doing so endangers his siblings and the kingdom. To redeem him a sacrifice has to be made, a sacrifice of huge magnitude which puts everyone at risk. The story is an allegory of God’s sacrifice to save us. We all make mistakes, we all try to cover up our faults but in both the story and in life it is the recognition of our wrongdoing, the taking responsibility, which allows the sacrifice made for us to redeem us. It is far too easy to pass the buck, to make excuses and to use our freedom in Christ as a cover up for evil. We must show proper respect for honesty, integrity, goodness and for everyone no matter who they are because God made His huge sacrifice for everyone, to offer everyone the opportunity to take responsibility and be redeemed. 

6th December 2022

Matthew 5:14b People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

We have just put up our Christmas lights. We invested in new ones which use less electricity, have a timer and are bright. Lights are so different now, they can go outside without costing a fortune, they use so much less electricity and much more efficient. Even so, I have noticed that whereas lights have been left on all night in the past, now they are only on in the evening. People are saving electricity but still wanting to share the colours and light needed at this time of year. Light is so vital in the dark nights, folk going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark, the lights give some joy in dark times. Darkness can be a time of fear, of cold, of loneliness, but bright, sparkling, flashing lights serve to push away the darkness, to cut through and provide light, reassurance and encouragement. Jesus was called the Light of the world, the one who pushed away the darkness of evil, who shone a light on the fear and loneliness, who changed lives from darkness to light. Festivals of light are crucial to our faith and our world; we provide light in the darkness of winter. 

4th December 2022

Luke 1:3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account.

Can you remember how you came to faith? Did you grow up in it or someone shared it with you, or you encountered something that made you question and seek answers? However it happened, part of what we do or should do is to look at what has been done, what is written and taught and grow as Christians. In this beginning of Luke’s gospel, Luke is clear about his aims in writing it, to give an orderly account of what Jesus did and said, to see the links to prophecies fulfilled in Jesus coming, to show the eyewitness accounts, to investigate and know the truth. These are good, honesty driven, reasons for sharing Luke’s experiences with others, with us. Over years of faith, I have changed my view on many things, God has had to open some very closed eyes and deaf ears, but He takes each one of us as we are and slowly shows us what needs to change in our lives. Although we may strive for perfection it is unattainable. We will never be completely right and when we judge others by our opinions and views we endanger their relationship with God who will change them in His time not ours. It is far too easy to think we know it all and have got it all right, sadly we will never get it all right and need to be as willing to change our views later in life as we were when we first found faith.  

3rd December 2022

Matthew 24:42 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

You may have noticed how colour is used in the Church of England. The altar cloths, falls and various covers change colour with the liturgical seasons of the year. Currently we are in Advent, the colour is purple, and it is what is known as a penitential season. We reflect on our wrongdoings and make changes. Purple is a colour that reflects repentance, self-denial, preparedness and fasting, but it also a royal colour reflecting the Kingship of Christ. Three of the Advent candles are purple and are lit to remind us of the Patriarchs, the Prophets and John The Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus. There is also a rose candle, not for Mary as many assume, but for Gaudete Sunday, The third Sunday where, like with Mothering Sunday in Lent, there is an uplifting time of Joy and celebration within the austerity of the season. The antiphon for this Sunday is Rejoice in the Lord always from Philippians and so rose pink represented the joy of the Lord. The final candle is white, in the centre of the wreath and lit on Christmas day when all the cloths and falls change to white and Gold for the Christmas season. White is a colour of purity and light, the holiness of God in the Christ born at Christmas. 

2nd December 2022

2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of love and self-control.

Do you feel in control of your life or does it feel like life controls you? We actually do have the God given ability to control our lives, but what are our priorities? Working all the time often becomes a necessity, especially when the cost of living is so high, but it is not beneficial, neither to us or to those we love and support. I had a father who was always working, we saw little benefit money wise and our family relationship suffered terribly. Life needs to have balance. We need to ask ourselves what we do to keep our work in balance with other parts of our life? Do we have rest times, down times? If not why not? Even Jesus knew that all humans need time away, time to eat, time to rest. Do we take time to eat properly? Do we take time for ourselves in the business of life? No excuses, we must try making specific times in our day to rest, to enjoy simple things and to make sure we eat properly. Sometimes we have to re-evaluate our priorities, because I have known many families who would prefer to have someone at home with them and be hard up, than comfortable without their family member. Families and friends need us, value us and we must value ourselves before God.

1st December 2022

Matthew 24:31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Advent is a time for looking both forwards and backwards. The term comes from the Latin, Adventus, which means coming. Jesus first came at Bethlehem but also spoke of coming back, of the great trumpet call, this is often called the second coming. During the late 4th early 5th centuries new Christians were prepared for Baptism at Epiphany with 40 days of preparation, including fasting and prayer. Preparing for baptism into the faith and preparing for Jesus’ return became combined into the festival of Advent. All Christians were expected to prepare for celebrating the nativity of Jesus, His first coming, but also to be prepared for His second coming. Advent is a penitential season, similar to Lent, where we examine our lives, seek forgiveness and make changes; when things are more austere in church, no flowers, the colour purple is used, the Gloria is not used and time is spent reflecting on one’s own preparedness. Today we focus much more on preparing for Christmas, on Jesus first coming, but Advent still contains the readings and teachings which remind us of His second coming and that we need always to be ready for His return.

30th November 2022

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

How can we renew our minds? Seems a strange idea and yet, what we see, hear and experience each day affects us and our minds. Sadly, much of what we witness in daily life is filled with negativity and awfulness. The constant negative news, the constant lies of politicians, the terrible plight of the hungry and poor demonised by right wing press. Instead, what we need are good and wholesome things to fill our minds with. Instead of death and destruction we need life and construction. It is often said that what comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what is in our heart and mind. Think about what you say out loud to others, is it good and wholesome or is unpleasant and rude? There are no excuses, what we say about others matters and reflects on us. We must try to be more mindful of what we say because these words and actions show who we really are. Renewing our minds to wholesome and good things will change our perspective on life, it will change how we see others and it will enable us to be people of God who always seek for the truth, for the good of all and for the best outcomes in life.

29th November 2022

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Sometimes in life, we don’t recognise our own needs or problems and we don’t recognise our need for God. There are still so many in society who ignore God. Like the religious leaders, the soldiers, the other thief, at Jesus death, people called Jesus to “Save yourself! Prove who you are. Save us.” These people wanted a magic show; they wanted Jesus to “do what I want, for me, now”. “Do this and I will believe” they say. Jesus did exactly that time and again, but they still did not believe. These people and many of us want to escape our lives rather than have them put back together by God in a fantastic way we could never imagine. So, instead of letting God bless us and care for us we mock, we deride Jesus. And yet, the cross is the ultimate act of love, compassion and forgiveness by God as Christ joins with and aligns himself with us in the pain and suffering of this life. God loves us utterly, completely and unconditionally, He proves Himself constantly to us and offers forgiveness and saving every moment of every day. All we must do is believe. 

28th November 2022

Ephesians 1:10 At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ, everything in heaven and on earth.

The term remembering in the sense of bringing all the pieces together, putting the parts back again as one; is the opposite of dismembering; separation, pulling apart, tearing limb from limb. The thief on the cross wants to be remembered, put back together again, not to simply be thought about and the same goes for us. Just like the thief we want to be re-membered, to have the many pieces of our life put back together. Our cry to be remembered is also a recognition and confession of our dismemberment. We have been dismembered, because pieces have been scattered and lost. Sometimes through the circumstances of life; loss and grief, shattered dreams, disappointment, regret, failures, the death of a loved one. Our life becomes fragmented and broken. It can happen in all sorts of ordinary ways: anger and resentment, criticism, judgment, envy, comparison and competition, gossip, bad mouthing another, perfectionism, the need to be right or in control, busyness, excessive productivity and efficiency. If we look at our relationships, wherever there is strain, hurt and brokenness, the chances are that we are being dismembered, forgotten, torn apart. That is not the life God gave us. That is not God’s dream or hope for us. That’s not what it was like in the very beginning, on the day of our creation, when God looked at all of creation, us included, He declared, “It is very good.”

27th November 2022

Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, our calendars do not start until Thursday this week, but with Christmas Day on a Sunday this year, this is the earliest the first Sunday of Advent can be. For the church this is the hinge of the year, the previous liturgical year is over and the new one begins. Unlike the New Year we celebrate on January 1st, this one does not have parties or celebrations because Advent is a Penitential season. Penitence is recognising and showing sorrow and remorse for our wrongdoing. It is part of the preparation for the Christmas season. It is about preparing oneself for the coming of Jesus; the first coming of Jesus at Bethlehem, but also the second coming when Christ returns and the New Heaven and New Earth are finally fulfilled as God intended them. Today we remember the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David: those who looked forward to God’s promised Messiah. We light a Purple candle and look forward with them to the coming Messiah. 

26th November 2022

1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

When I first started teaching, I would always go into school early, I still do it today. I love the school when it is quiet, no one is yet around and there is peacefulness. This allows me to get ready, be prepared, have everything ready to go but also be able to adapt should things change suddenly, which they can. During the pandemic I also found that time so valuable to walk the school and pray. I was pretty much confined to my office when everyone was in school, so being able to walk and pray before everyone came in made a huge difference. We are all different, we need those differences, but there is something about being prepared, being in a place before everything happens, being able to set ourselves for what is to come and offer up our best. It is the same for me in church, I am always there early to prepare the place but also myself. We all need to be ready before God, to spend time with Him not just together in church but also alone, in quietness and solitude. For some it is the journey to work, for others a quiet place in the home, for others even a cloakroom. Wherever we find our place we need a little time, time to be with God, time to prepare, time to be ready so that even when things change quickly, and they will, we can step up knowing we are ready and prepared because we have spent time with God.

25th November 2022

Philippians 1:2 I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now.

Have you heard the term Blue Sky thinking? It involves an individual or group of people looking at something with fresh eyes and not being bound by the usual constraints. Albert Einstein was a blue-sky thinker, often laughed at and disregarded, his thinking led to some of the greatest scientific discoveries and advances in society. Across time there have been many of these blue sky moments and times that have changed our world view, not least the Sun at the centre of the Universe, Newton discovering Gravity, the rights of women, or in recent years the World Wide Web. People thinking outside the box, having a clear vision not obstructed by societal norms, seeing the bigger picture, these have all changed things. The very fact that Christianity is a worldwide faith shows us how the early Christians had this clear vision and went for it. They travelled the world even though it was dangerous and took so long; they shared their faith, they opened eyes so that people heard about Jesus. This creative and imaginative force within us is given by God. He gave those first Christians a clear vision, He has given that to us throughout the ages and gives it to us now. God offers a clear vision if we are willing to look, grasp and strive for the best and not let clouds or problems stand in our way.

 24th November 2022

Romans 12:2a Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed and changed by the renewing of your mind.

A recent report I read suggested that resilience has become one of those buzz words we band about but don’t really understand. It also suggested that parents are not that keen on this word or its implications for our young people. Instead let’s think about it as sticking with things and people through thick and thin. It is another way of looking at resilience, and it helps understand how we build our determination, our constancy and how we can develop our reactions to events and people in our lives. Across cultures we see people make promises to serve a country or people, promises to stick with someone until they have paid off a debt, promises to sponsor someone trying to clean up from drink and drugs. In our culture children have God parents who promise to help parents in the upbringing of their children and parents themselves make promises in how they will bring up their children. We have people in public life who make promises to serve their community but, and it is a big but, so often once these promises are made, they are forgotten very quickly and stickability is lost. We seem to have forgotten the importance of making a commitment and sticking to it, an example is the commitment of marriage which has declined as people say they don’t need to marry to be committed to each other but when things get tough it is far easier to walk away than try to work things out. Being held to our promises and commitments is the very heart of stickability and resilience. We are reminded not to conform to the pattern of this world, in other words not to break our promises just because other people do, not to abandon people during difficult times because other people do, not to take seriously our commitments and promises because all we see is people who lie to get themselves into power and then do whatever is needed to keep that power. God is the chief example of one who sticks with us no matter what, He fulfils His promises and commitments even when we turn away from ours. 

23rd November 2022

Isaiah 49:16 Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.”

We all know what it is like to be remembered and we know what it is like to be forgotten. Think of a time you were remembered, how it felt, a phone call, a letter, a visit, a gift, a surprise, recognising you. I bet it made you feel good. We all want to be remembered. It means that we matter, there is life, presence, and relationship in being remembered. We know how important remembering is. The Feast of All Saints, Remembrance Sunday, we remember those we love, who are forever a part of us and our lives. Compare that with a time when you were forgotten. What did that feel like? Someone forgot your birthday, or the anniversary of your wedding or the death of a loved one. In those moments we feel alone, abandoned, uncertain, afraid, wounded, maybe even angry. There is a sense of helplessness. We are no longer sure of our place and whether we even belong. No one wants to be forgotten, we want to be remembered. Jesus promises that remembrance. He will never forget us, we are inscribed on the palms of Jesus hands.

22nd November 2022

Luke 23:42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Many of the words in the Communion service speak into our relationship with God. The very act of Communion is anamnesis, a remembering through action of what Jesus did for us. Every time we participate in the life of Christ by living with mercy, compassion, forgiveness; every time we speak a word of hope and encouragement; every time we love without condition, expectation, or payment; every time we share our bread and live in communion with one another we participate in Christ’s remembering of our own lives, the lives of each other, and the life of the world. We “do this in remembrance of [Jesus].” In those moments we hear the promise of Jesus, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Why is that the promise given us on the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year? That promise is the hinge between the ending of this liturgical year and the beginning of the next. It stands between the crucifixion and the nativity. In Christ’s eyes we are never forgotten we are forever and always remembered. “Today you will be with me in paradise” is Jesus’ promise to each one of us, this day and every day.

21st November 2022

Matthew 23:37 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

The few verses at the end of Matthew chapter 23 are called the Lament over Jerusalem. A lament is a passionate expression of grief or regret. A whole book in the Old Testament is called Lamentations. This sadness can be expressed through poetry, prose or song and allows an internal feeling to be expressed outwardly. What is so powerful here is that God, Jesus laments, God is sad, God is grieving over His people who have turned their back on Him. This Holy City, the very city that will become new has turned away from its creator. We tend to think of God as all powerful and all knowing but we rarely think of Him as sad, as grieving, yet we carry the very emotions He has as we were created in His image. God grieves when we turn away, when we do not share His love with others, when people ridicule all God has given to us out of love. As much as God grieves, He will never force us only wait for us to find Him again. Once the time for the New Jerusalem comes there will be no more waiting. Humans have a choice to make and when we turn from God it saddens His heart.

20th November 2022

Genesis 28:16 The Lord is here! He is in this place, and I didn't know it!

I wonder if you have ever had problems with your brother or sister, if you have any siblings. Quite often there can be sibling rivalry, one upmanship, the desire to be better or to be the favourite. In the Old Testament there are a number of stories where brothers go against each other, where tensions are high and favouritism causes real problems. It's becoming clear that Jacob, not Esau, is the son through whom God will make a nation and bless the world. But while out in the desert he has a dream. His dream of a ladder up to heaven with angels going up and down is a symbol of the fact that even with all his faults, he has a working and good relationship with God. Esau never finds this relationship. This dream serves to remind Jacob and us that earth and heaven are in fact close. They are not as far apart as we often think they are. The world can seem very ordinary sometimes, without much room for God, but Jacob’s ladder to heaven reminds us that the boundaries between earth and heaven are porous. There is two-way traffic as God involves himself in our world and we pray to Him in Heaven. Jacob called the place 'Bethel', meaning 'House of God'. He realises God was right there even though he did not know it. Sometimes we have this same experience, perhaps in the most ordinary of places. God is there, in every place, even though we might forget it.

19th November 2022

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promises, but is patient toward us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

The recent budget was once again a calculated reaction to a situation rather than sticking to the promises made by a government. Yes, we must change and adapt to circumstances but completely abandoning pledges because of a failure to look after their commitments, shows that promises are just a means to an end, power and wealth for the few. Sticking with a situation, a promise, a commitment is not easy, but it is vital to the ordering and running of our world. Being able to ride out the rough with the smooth is crucial in life because life is not one big positive experience. There are amazing parts to life but also the difficult and awful parts. We celebrate success, promotions and new life but we also meet illness, failure and death. As has been said in many a song and speech, life is a rollercoaster with many ups and downs. We must as both Christians and humans, take seriously the commitments we make, not just to get us what we want but because it is together that life is at its best and fairest, together we make a difference, together we support one another through the difficult times and celebrate with one another through the good times. The example we have is God who sticks with us through every moment, Jesus who even when we fail still fulfils His promises, who does not give up on us after a few days or weeks but sticks with us through thick and thin. The least we can do for one another is to stick with each other and to help each other whatever happens. This way we will all have a better life, and our community will be a better, stronger and more stable place for all.

18th November 2022

Genesis 20:2 Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.

One of the shocking things about many Old Testament stories is the normality of women being treated as property. This appears normal in the ancient world, but in the Bible the way these stories are told usually show God's condemnation of this misogynistic behaviour. As much as Abraham is held up as a patriarch whose example should be followed, he is actually willing to prostitute his own wife to secure his own safety. Abraham willingly passes Sarah off as his sister so that the king Abimelech will take her into his house. Abraham shows no respect for Sarah’s honour and no regard at all for her safety. He also controls her by telling her it is a test of her loyalty to him for her to do this. Controlling and coercive behaviour. Not acceptable by anyone. Abraham is seen in a terrible light here. The wise statesman, powerful warrior and ancestor of all Israel is a terrible moral failure. God himself intervenes to save Sarah. This is an example of shameful behaviour the kind of which we're more sensitive about today, but still misogyny is rife, particularly in the church and in nationalist policies. In the New Testament, Paul doesn’t help much either, he does tell husbands to love their wives, as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it, but that is far to easy to wriggle out of. It also shows us that doing the right thing, having integrity requires morality and courage. Once we give into selfish behaviour, once we are corrupted in our morality towards others the consequences are terrible and not of God.

17th November 2022

Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.

We are currently seeing people in need of a decent wage rise. Contrary to a government agenda, most public sector pay has been either frozen or given very small increases in the last 12 years. Some public sector workers have seen no rises in several years, all while the cost of living is rising. The government figures on inflation bear no resemblance to the price hike in energy, pasta, milk, bread, eggs and so on. People are expected to live on, by MP’s, 30p a day and be grateful. Meanwhile they claim for energy costs, food allowances etc up to £300,000 a year. Until someone has to live on next to nothing, cannot afford to heat their home or hot water, have a few pounds to buy food which is now 3 or 4 times what it was, none of us can judge or criticise those in this position. Millions in poverty, children in school hungry. We are so wrapped up in blaming them, a useful tool by those in charge, that we cannot see the blatant greed of the wealthy. God has been completely clear in the Bible, a fair wage for work. This is not a gift or at the whim of the wealthy, it is due, expected and should be given without complaint. Right now we need wages to rise and rise fairly in a wealthy country where the poor are getting poorer while the wealthy are increasing their wealth massively on a daily basis.

16th November 2022

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you to the nations.

Every so often I have to apply for a new DBS certificate. Because I work with Children and vulnerable adults I have to be cleared as not having anything in my background that might be a threat. In many ways it is intrusive but it is also necessary. We want our children, our vulnerable to be cared for and helped by those who are going to do their best for them. Over the years the completion of the form has become easier because things can be checked online. Every one of us has a footprint we leave upon this world. Our names, dates of birth and NI numbers etc clarify who we are and allows us to be seen for who we are in society. I am able to prove who I am and be verified by those who are trained to check everything. Before God we do not have to prove who we are, He created us, He knows exactly who we are even if we pretend to be otherwise. Before God we do not need a passport, a NI number, birth certificate because God already knows all those things about us. He knows the number of hairs on our heads, knew us before we were born, knows the tears we cry and carries us in His heart. Proof of who we are in God is completely covered in Jesus. We are His, we are loved, saved and kept in the Father heart of God by the death and resurrection of the Son, Jesus.

15th November 2022

Mark 9:2b There Jesus was transfigured before them.

Real life is a mixture of good and bad, often things are confusing and messy and we have to work hard often for little reward. Sometimes we hit a high, often called a mountain top experience where things are amazing, clear and wonderful but these happen rarely. Peter’s everyday experiences had caused him to try and turn Jesus away from His earthly mission. Jesus had condemned Peter and yet very soon after this Peter, along with James and John, is invited to join Jesus in the Mountain Top experience. They find themselves part of a glorious vision including Elijah and Moses which clearly validates Jesus as God’s chosen one, the Messiah who was to come. They had witnessed Jesus’ miracles, seen lives changed but now they were in the presence of God Himself. We are sometimes given 'mountain-top experiences' of our own, when God seems very near to us and the veil between earth and heaven is lifted. These experiences are precious, but they aren't the norm. When Peter, James and John came down the mountain they found anger, failure, confusion, messy daily life. The disciples are not able to help someone who needs healing. This is real day to day life; this is the life within which we minister. We will get frustrated, we will get it wrong, we will find it exhausting. Those mountain top experiences are there to encourage us, help us, strengthen us to cope with the difficulties of the valley in which we live each day.

14th November 2022

John 5:25 Very truly I tell you, the hour is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

What are you waiting for? At this time of year children are waiting for Christmas, getting more and more excited. We often “Can’t wait” for a holiday, a party, a visit, a special event. Jesus used this phrase the hour is coming. Something is coming but not yet. This was explained to me through the adage “pie in the sky when we die or steak on the plate while we wait”. Part of Christianity is patience, waiting for what is to come. The trouble with patience and waiting is that we can lose focus. We can get bored, wander off, get a bit lazy with life now, but God wants us to have life in all its fullness now, not just in the future in Heaven. There were also early Christians who were so caught up in going to Heaven they were no earthly good. It was all about the future and nothing got done in the here and now. Yes we are promised Heaven but we are also called to live life now, to share God’s love with others, to be helping others, caring, compassionate, forgiving, honest, just and fair. We are called to work for and serve God in our daily lives but also knowing the hour will come and we shall be heavenward bound.

13th November 2022

Mark 6:3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

How are you perceived at home, at work, by others? Often, we are not seen in the same light by family as we are by others or at work. Jesus was attracting large crowds; they came to hear his teaching and often get fed and sometimes healed. When he went back to his own town, Nazareth, it was a different story: the people only saw the carpenter’s son who had grown up among them. Calling him the 'Mary’s son' indicated they doubted the legitimacy of Jesus' birth and so made this cruel insult. Joseph believed that Mary conceived 'by the Holy Spirit', as Christians do, but perhaps the townsfolk weren't so sure. They saw Jesus as getting above himself and so He was not able to perform any miracles there apart from a few healings. This seems quite shocking. We are used to thinking of Jesus being able to do anything. But Mark is quite clear: Jesus was limited in what he could do by the people's lack of faith in him. Let ‘s be very clear, there is no connection between the amount of faith we have and what God does for us. That idea is very cruel, especially if we are blamed for not having enough faith when we or a loved one are not healed or helped. But it clearly shows us there is a need for us to co-operate with God in everything we do. If we aren't receptive to God’s leading and open to his possibilities, we can limit what He can do with us and through us.

12th November 2022

1 John 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.

Unlike those who have fought in wars and those who still fight for our freedom and protection, we will probably never be asked to love others to the extent of giving up our lives for them. We are still called to show our love to others and for others, in all sorts of different ways. Others are those we meet at school and work, members of our family, our neighbours, our community, those in difficulty, the poor, the sick, the unloved and disregarded, in fact we are called to love everyone, even those who live on the other side of the world who it is so easy to forget. We show this love by the ways in which we help others in person and through organisations and charity work we support. At this time of remembrance, we recall and give thanks for those who have given up their lives to bring freedom to this country, and across the world, and as we do this let us also remember that Jesus willingly gave up His life to deal with the evil in our world and in our hearts, making us new again. Once that happens within us, we can, through love, go out and change the world and make it a more peaceful place by spreading His new life and growth.

11th November 2022

Psalm 105:8 He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.

Today we Remember those who gave their lives in service of their countries. Most of us will be wearing poppies. The reason we use a poppy to help us remember is that they were the first things to start growing again in the muddy fields of World War 1. The Poppy usually has three parts. The black bit in the middle of the poppy can represent all the terrible parts of war, the hate, the suffering, the pride, the anger, the violence, the desire for more power, more land and more money. All the bad bits of war come from the same place, out of the human heart; evil thoughts of anger, murder, immorality, theft, lies and slander. It is quite a disturbing thought that a war can begin with one man or one woman’s evil heart? They then share that evil idea with others, The idea then spreads to another person and another person until a nation is led into something awful, like a world war. The red part of the Poppy represents blood, the fact that many people gave their lives in wars so that we can live in a free country. The red part can also remind us of Jesus, also willing to lay down his life for everyone in the world, so that the problem of the blackness in our hearts could be sorted out, so that we can live free from evil. Love is much more powerful than evil. The red part of the poppy is much bigger than the black part. The green part of your poppy, the green leaf and stem reminds us of things that grow, that even in the depths of death and war new and beautiful things begin to grow. New life comes out of death. New life in Christ comes out of Jesus death on the cross. New life and democracies can come out of war. 

10th November 2022

Luke 20:27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question.

How good are you at riddles? Word puzzles, questions that make us think. Sometimes riddles are funny, sometimes not. What goes up when the rain comes down? An umbrella. What is full of holes but can still hold water? A sponge! Riddles have been around since before the time of Jesus. One day, Jesus was approached by a group of Sadducees, religious leaders, who tried to make Him look silly. However much we disagree with someone we should never try to make them look silly or treat them badly. They were trying to trick Jesus into agreeing that there was no life after death. They asked him to answer a riddle about the law of Moses, families, children, and who might be married to who in Heaven. It was a very tricky riddle, but Jesus knew exactly how to answer them. He didn’t fall into their trap. Jesus said, marriage and families as we know them are for people while they live on earth, but in Heaven things aren’t the same, they are so much better and people will never die again. They will live forever as the children of God. After Jesus answered their riddle so wisely, no one dared to ask him any more questions that day. Riddles are for fun, not to be nasty to people or to be unkind. Jesus promised us that if we love him and trust in him, we will live forever in Heaven with him. One last riddle for you; Why were the religious leaders called Sadducees? Since they didn’t believe in the resurrection or the happiness of Heaven, they were "Sad, you see!"

9th November 2022

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Like me, you have probably met those confident people who seem to have everything sorted, the self-confidence and self-assurance seems to ooze from them. I will let you into a secret. In nearly all those people it is bravado. They act this way to make everyone think they are totally self-assured. People with real self-assurance don’t need to act out a role, they just are, quietly, gently, no big show is needed. That self-assurance, composure, positiveness, poise and strength comes from an inner security rooted in peace, love and self-knowledge. In Colossians we are given the qualities which allow us to develop that self-assurance. Patience, forgiveness, love;  of  self and others; peace in decisions and life, thankfulness for all we have, wisdom and hope. Everything we do or say needs to be done to the best we can. This gives us faith in ourselves, our abilities, and talents, allows us to meet new challenges, overcome difficulties, learn and gain wisdom which in turn leads to self-assurance. But remember, self-assurance is not arrogance, it is forged from a willingness to learn, to gain insight, to exercise judgement in the knowledge and experience of life alongside the expertise of others. It enables us to look and see the world and our God given unique, special place in that world. This is self-assurance as God intended.

8th November 2022

Wisdom 3:1 But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them.

As well as the 66 books of the Bible, there are some intertestamental books called the Apocrypha. One such book is that of Wisdom, accredited to the very wise King Solomon. This verse is one of the most comforting and encouraging when we suffer death and grief. It reminds us that those we love and have lost are in God’s hands, what a place to be. Not only that, but they will also suffer no torment, none of the rigors that those who reject God and reject goodness will suffer. Hell is an odd concept in today’s world and yet it is the striking reminder that those who completely selfish, who reject the ways of God, who think and act totally for themselves will meet their end in the same suffering they put upon others. What keeps us safe in God’s hands is the recognition that we are sinners, we need help and that Jesus death on the cross provided, that defeat of death and evil in both our lives and our physical death. We place ourselves and those we love into the hands of God knowing He will keep them and ultimately us, safe and blessed.

7th November 2022

Luke 6:21Blessed are you who weep and mourn now, for you will laugh again.

When we grieve and mourn those we lose to death, there are many things that trouble our hearts. Perhaps we remember things we did or said that we deeply regret but can’t say sorry for. There might be things we left unsaid because we thought we had more time to say them. We might be hanging on to feelings of anger or bitterness towards someone we love dearly but who hurt us. We might just feel angry or confused about why they had to die. Only we and God know what’s in our hearts. And God, knowing what we need better than we know ourselves, holds out his hands so that we can place that person we have lost into those safe, loving hands. Placing someone into God’s hands may not be easy. We might only be able to do it gradually over a period of time. Our relationship with someone doesn’t end when they die. We carry it with us and it can change, grow and heal. We can grieve for their loss but also feel deep gratitude that our lives have been enriched because they were part of it. As we hold in our hearts those, we love but see no longer. Let us remember that those we love make us who we are and remain part of us forever. They may not be physically here anymore but they will always be within our heart and minds, our memories and experiences.  

6th November 2022

John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The bonds between the living and the dead are grounded in Christ’s resurrection, the source of all Christian living and hope. St. Paul reminds us that we are all mortal and perishable. Mortality is what we have in common with every human being and indeed with every other living thing, sentient or not. Jesus as a human being comes and transforms our mortal nature from the inside. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead allows death to be defeated and brings eternal life for all who die in Him. We do not know what it is to live beyond time, like God who holds all time, past, present, and future, and who simultaneously transcends all time. We do know, however, what it is to live in Christ: that is our present experience. As we commemorate those who have departed this life, we ask that they will be given rest “where sorrow and pain are no more” and we are reminded to not let our hearts be troubled or worried. Through Jesus we are not condemned but saved to eternal life.

5th November 2022

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, they will be called the sons and daughters of God.

Across our world more and more countries possess nuclear weapons. In recent days Russia has made noises about using them in their unjust war against Ukraine. In the UK we have had heated discussions for years about disarming verses deterrent. We spend huge amounts on nuclear weapons while people go hungry and homeless. Jesus public ministry was quite clear, the days of violence, injustice, war, and empire must and will come to an end. We, as Christians, are invited to welcome God’s reign of peace and live in God’s universal love and nonviolence from here on. Jesus says that God is a peacemaker, and since we are God’s sons and daughters, we are peacemakers too, not warmakers. We too, must practice peace and love of all just as God does. There are no exceptions, no justifications for warfare. Many folks would say these teachings are naïve, impractical, and idealistic. But as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “Jesus is not an impractical idealist: he is the practical realist.” Loving one’s enemy is an absolute necessity for our survival and is the key to the solution of the problems of our world. 

4th November 2022

Luke 6:27 But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.

In the gospels we find the teaching of Jesus called the Beatitudes. These are the attitudes we should have in life each and every day. The attitudes which make us saints of God. The attitudes which enable us to understand the poor and hungry and not despise, judge and reject them. The attitude that is compassionate toward those who grieve, who struggle and are upset. The attitude that realises the mistreatment of ourselves and others is because of our faith. The attitude that accepts that truth, integrity and honesty can often get us into trouble when we question society and its treatment of people. The attitude that realises wealth and power is not what should drive us and is not what we should be striving for at the cost of others. Being a saint isn’t something we show off about or tell others about, we don’t actually recognise it in ourselves, but God does. We live as ordinary people in ordinary jobs who do what we do as Christians with honesty and integrity. We pray for others. We work with others, we bless people, we try to love our enemies, to give what and where we can. We may not work miracles like St Andrew, St Peter or St Paul, and yet we do work miracles, because of us hungry people are, someone has a home to live in, some will have new opportunities and we offer hope where there wasn’t any before. Our attitudes can and do change lives when we live as God asks of us.

3rd November 2022

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Before moving to Rochester Diocese, we lived in Upminster and the Parish of St Laurence. There had been a church on the site for more than 1400 years. Some of the present church is quite ancient and there is a very old crypt. There is some 500-year-old graffiti in the stone and wood work. Stories of ancient tombs and historic folk. I would often sit in that church and think, if these walls could speak, what stories of faith they could tell. All our churches have history, people who have worshipped in them for 50 or 100 or 200 or however many years. We see just a tiny part of some stories through the windows, plaques, tombs, furniture, plate etc. So many stories we will never know and yet we are here because others who came before us had vision, had faith and worked for the Lord without any real recognition. All these folk are who we think of on All saints. Yes, we remember the saints and martyrs recorded in our service books and lectionaries but we also remember those who were never recorded as saints or martyrs but yet served the Lord. As we look back, we will remember those saints we knew, their faith and service, those who taught us so much about faith and love. These are saints, and in the same way you and I, are also saints, as we share what we know and believe with the next generation.

2nd November 2022 All Souls Day

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

The Commemoration of The Faithful Departed, All Souls, came about because of a deep Christian instinct to honour the martyrs, and the saints and the Christian instinct to pray for the dead. Our bonds to one another are not severed by death but still remain. We are still tied to one another in the living Christ, and we believe that we can still help each other through prayer. In Christ, the veil separating this life from the next is quite permeable. The commemoration began to be observed first in monastic houses and then throughout the Western Church. It was set on November 2nd as something of an extension of All Saints on Nov 1st. On All Souls’ Day, we recall the countless numbers of not especially heroic, but rather ordinary Christian people who have lived before us, most of whose names in history are forgotten to all but God. For us, we hold before God those more recently passed who are especially dear to us, family members and friends. We remember those we love but see no longer, those who memory we treasure and whose presence we miss.

1st November 2022 All Saints Day

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and so easily entangles.

You and I may not see ourselves as saints but we are. The definition of sainthood I love the most is a saint is someone who the light shines through. It comes from the fact that saints of old were represented in stained glass windows where the light shone through. As a child of God, as a Christian, the light of Christ shines through us. Yes, sometimes the light gets a bit obscured by mistakes, by storms, by day to day living, by condensation, but that light of Christ shines through us when we live our lives for Him. That light shines through the prayer, the hospitality, the compassion, the friendliness, the charity, the hope, the love, the difference we make to others' lives, the welcome we offer to those we meet. We will never get a named saint’s day just for us as most of the old saints do, but we do get All Saints Day, a day where we celebrate each other and our faith. When we recognise for ourselves and show each other, just how important we are in God’s family and in God’s work. All Saints Day is for you, for all of us, we are saints, we are not perfect, we are not fully formed yet but we are those who are blessed before God as we serve Him.

31st October 2022

1 Corinthians 1:12 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today is Halloween, this is now celebrated in the UK with dressing up and Trick and Treating. As a festival it actually belongs to the church, to Christianity, as All Hallows' Eve. It falls on 31st October each year, and is the day before All Hallows' Day, known more commonly as All Saints' Day in the Christian calendar. The Church traditionally held a vigil on All Hallows' Eve when worshippers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself. The name comes from the Old English word 'hallowed' meaning holy, but is now usually shortened to the more familiar word Hallowe'en. It has become synonymous with ghosts and ghouls because it was considered to be a thin place in time, that means a point in time where the gap between the world of the living and the dead is reduced. As that gap between the two worlds becomes permeable people believed that the dead could return to earth that evening thus giving rise to the idea of ghosts. Personally, I do not celebrate Hallowe’en and I encourage families with young children not to play with these representations of evil. I am saddened that society has pushed this into such a money spinner and encourages a devilish attitude instead of a respect towards those who have given their lives in the service of God. All Hallows remembers the saints and martyrs, it remembers those who have loved and served. That is who I will celebrate and remember and I encourage you to do the same.

30th October 2022

Mark 5:41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).

During Covid we were much more aware of washing hands, wearing masks, keeping our distance so as to not to spread disease. In Jesus time there were certain traditions which meant those who were dead or sick were considered unclean and so not to be touched. Jesus gets called on by Jairus, whose little daughter is ill, but on the way there's a sick woman. Her case is less urgent; bleeding for 12 years, and the girl is at the point of death. The woman has been made ritually unclean by her condition, so she could not attend the Temple and anyone who touched her became unclean as well, therefore she sought to touch Jesus anonymously. Jesus does not ignore her and she is healed. On arrival at Jairus' house, the daughter has died, mourning has begun. Jesus takes the dead girl's hand, again ritually unclean, and He raises her back to life. Jesus is not made unclean by contact with bleeding, instead, he heals and cleans her. Jesus is not made unclean by contact with a dead body: instead, He raises her to life. As Christians we sometimes seem to feel that the best way of being holy is to keep away from anything that might compromise or contaminate us. Jesus didn't do that. He helped anyone who needed Him, no matter the issue, no matter the urgency. For us, we too must help anyone who needs us, no matter the issue, no matter the urgency.

29th October 2022

Luke 18:1 Jesus told them about their need to pray always and not lose heart.

How often do you pray? For some of us it is a constant, for many others it is only when in need. When we don’t pray, don’t have that community and relationship with God, we will depend on ourselves instead of depending on God’s grace. Unceasing prayer, praying always, is, in essence, continual dependence on and complete communion with the Father. To put it simply, for Christians, prayer should be like breathing. We do not have to think about how to breathe because we were created to breathe, as we are born, we breathe. That is why it is more difficult to hold your breath than it is to breathe. Similarly, when we are born into the family of God, where prayer is the normal, natural response, we should naturally pray always. Sadly, many of us hold our “spiritual breath” for long periods of time, thinking a few moments with God on a Sunday or a Thursday are sufficient to allow us to survive. But then the difficult times happen, we blame everything and everyone else, including God. The fact is that we should be continually in the presence of God, constantly breathing in His truths, reading His word, being open to His Spirit, to be fully functional in our faith.

28th October 2022

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

I once heard a story about Queen Elizabeth II that she thought everywhere smelled of new paint. I also heard of all places that she visited redecorating just the rooms and corridors she would use and yes they would smell of new paint. Whenever anyone special visits we make sure that at least the public and seen places are clean, tidy, well presented and looking good. In our lives we tend to make the obvious places clean and tidy before God. Other’s see us in a certain acceptable way, we make sure they do, and hope that God sees that too. We want to keep our not so nice places out of God’s sight. We want our life to smell of new paint. God sees beyond the new paint, the clean places and the tidy parts to the real us. He sees the dark places, the dirty places, the untidy places and yet He still loves us. He just wants us to be honest, to show everything to him, to allow Him to work in all parts of our lives to make us the best we can be for Him.

27th October 2022

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

In the Bible we are told on many occasions to pray always or as it is also put, pray without ceasing. This can be confusing. Surely, it cannot mean we are to be in a head-bowed, eyes-closed posture all day long? Jesus is not teaching about non-stop talking to God, although we can be good at that, the endless shopping list of requests. Rather Jesus is teaching about an attitude of God-consciousness and God-surrender that we carry with us all the time, 24/7. Every waking moment should be lived in an awareness that God is with us and that He is actively involved and engaged in our thoughts and actions, that is, of course, if we let him. In a worldly sense it is what we often refer to as our conscience. That which stops us doing bad things, reminds of the dangers we are in and encourages us to seek help. When our daily thoughts turn to worry, fear, discouragement, and anger, we should consciously and quickly turn every thought into prayer. Notice the link to not only telling God and asking God but also thanking God. As we go through the day, prayer should be our first response to every fearful situation, every anxious thought, and everything we do. It is not God bothering. God wants to be in complete community and consciousness with us every moment of every day.

26th October 2022

Romans 8:27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

I find it really comforting and helpful when someone tells me I am being prayed for. I like to share with people when I am praying for them. The hymn writer Isaac Watts used to keep people’s names and needs in an envelope and lift these up to God regularly all through his life. We often have lists of people to pray for but so often these become long shopping lists of names where the reason has long been forgotten. The Holy Spirit, as part of the Trinity, lives within us and intercedes for us constantly. The Spirit knows our every need, our every thought and can pray for exactly what is needed each and every day. Even if you don’t know if others are praying for you, you can be assured and absolutely certain that the Spirit is praying for you. I will let you into a secret, even when we think others are not praying for us, they are. There are so many gifted prayer warriors who pray for each of us. Try to remember every day that The Spirit intercedes for you and others do as well. Know yourself prayed for, as you need it.

25th October 2022

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I have heard that we have a bumper crop of apples this year in the UK. The weather has been conducive to sweet, rich flavoured, juicy apples. Who doesn’t love an apple, from early years being cut up for a snack to biting into an apple as we get older. Fruit is vital to our diet, it provides vitamins, minerals, nutrients, healthy things for our body and helps with digestion. No wonder Paul talks of the fruit of the Spirit. These are things good for us, aiding our life, they are healthy, provide essential nutrients to life. When we live with love and joy, patience and gentleness the world is so much better for everyone. When we are self-controlled, peaceful, good and kind, it changes us, and it changes other people. That in turn changes our society. My prayer is that we have an abundant crop of these fruits of the Spirit, not just this year, but every year, every month, every week and every day.

24th October 2022

 Exodus 20:4 Do not use God’s name for evil purposes. God’s names are not swear words.

I was sitting in a restaurant the other night, having a meal with family. All of a sudden, at the next table, a list of expletives rang out, loudly; included in the swear words was God and Jesus. People seem quite happy to use God’s name as a swear word, to include it with words that are rude, lazy, common and unnecessary if we have a good command of language. When we want to show our displeasure there are endless words that express anger, annoyance, disappointment, disagreement, without resorting to using what are Holy names, as an expletive. I often correct people in the street, if I hear bad language being used loudly or God’s name being used as a swear word, I ask people politely to mind their language. I get the very rare apology but usually I get a mouthful of abuse and told to go away in very unpleasant language and tone. It is a shame that we do not value our language enough, or respect the beliefs and views of others enough, to speak better to one another and to express our displeasure. If you would not say what you are saying with God in the room, then do not say it at all.

23rd October 2022

Luke 18:7 Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?

Sometimes people tell me that they don’t really need God but when they do, He will be there. It is easier for us to feel secure by presuming on; instead of depending on; God’s grace. We easily become satisfied with physical blessings and have little desire for spiritual ones. When study, promotion, and money produce impressive results, we can confuse our human success with God’s divine blessing. When that happens, passionate longing for God and yearning for His help goes missing. Continual, persistent, prayer is an essential part of Christian living and flows out of humility and dependence on God. We tend not to pray in the traditional way of hands together, eyes closed prayer but by making a bargain with God, if you do this for me I will….. we make promises we don’t keep. God does keep His promises and promises to grant justice, to help, to encourage and train us. God promises to increase our belief and faith, to strengthen us and never leave us. It is us who do not keep our promises, us who constantly ask and forget to say thank you, us who turn to God only when in desperate need; but God’s love for us is so amazing that even then He hears us and does not let us down.

22nd October 2022

Matthew 7: 2 God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others.

We are very good at applying things to other people but not to ourselves. I find it interesting that those on large incomes with savings and financial interests happily judge anyone who is in a poorly paid job or needs help as scroungers and a drain on society. As they demand even bigger bonuses and wages, they don’t want those who are essential to society to be paid any more. Those who earn in excess of £80,000 a year and claim perhaps £200,000 in expenses believe a nurse should pay for their car parking and travel, be paid £16,000 a year and work 12-hour shifts. The arise of zero hours contracts to stop companies having to pay fair wages to people and fire them when they wish, which doesn’t apply to them in their well-paid, safe jobs. Sadly, the wealthy and those who consider themselves wealthy, apply very different rules to others than they do themselves. God judges them and us the same way we judge others. If we condemn the poor, cheat the worker, malign the sick then we to will be condemned, cheated and maligned. Out of His great gift to us we must give to others, freely, without judgement and with love.

21st October 2022

Psalm 130:5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits and, in His word, I put my hope.

How good are you at waiting? Already we are heading at top speed towards Christmas and already the I can’t wait is being said. We become impatient for the next big thing, we almost forgo the precious time between now and then in our impatience. I have learnt over the years to not purchase the gifts being talked about now, as they will change in the next few weeks. In the Bible we are often told about waiting for God and waiting on God. Not rushing into everything but waiting for the right time and place. We like to hurry God, to make Him fit into our timeline instead of the other way round. God, of course, sees the bigger picture, the overall picture in time and space, and as such His timing is perfect. We would do well to follow His timing, to wait patiently, to listen, to hear and to respond in His timing, not ours.

20th October 2022

Luke 6:48 Be like the man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the water broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been built o sure foundations.

We have just been to Birling Gap on the south coast. We drove across the South Downs from Eastbourne via Beachy Head and then stopped at this point where the Seven Sisters starts along the South Coast. Coastal erosion here is so bad that the house on the cliff top, which a hundred years ago was over half a mile from the sea, will collapse into the sea within the next 18 months. Nothing can stop this erosion but it is made worse by our pollution and trying to build where we should not. We just don’t listen as humans. Even in the Bible we are told not to build on sand, or the house will fall flat, but to build on rock where the house will remain strong and safe. Foundations are vital in life, we need to be strong and sure, to have foundations which keep us safe when the erosions of life come. God is our foundation, He is our strength, protection and stay. If we build our lives securely with God then when the storms come, when we experience erosion and battering, we will stand firm!

19th October 2022

Matthew 10:8 As you go, proclaim the kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons, give without expecting any return.

Helping or serving people is not about making money. In fact, society has called jobs that serve others a vocation or calling and by doing so have been able to always keep these people poorly paid. A vicar receives a basic stipend, an amount of money to enable them to serve their community without having to have a job to afford their basic expenses like food, heating, a place to live. Public servants, with the exception of our MP’s, are paid poorly and have to fight for even a reasonable pay rise, while those in government take home a huge salary alongside huge expenses, these expenses alone are often 10 times more than a nurses salary. We are called by God to be good neighbours and friends, to not do things because of what we will get in return, but in order for everyone in society to be able to live well. Helping people is necessary for all of us, we need those who look after us, transport us, provide food for us, offer comfort and advice. Society cannot function without public servants, as much as we should not look for reward, people do have to live, so paying people fairly is what is needed. A calling to help and serve others is not an excuse for poor pay or working conditions.

18th October 2022

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will.

I find that some people talk in sound bites, they use a trendy phrase in the hope that they look impressive. What I have found over the years is that usually these people only have a surface knowledge of something but try to look good. It happens a lot in board rooms, people who talk in phrases to establish their credibility in something they know little about. The same is true of Christianity. There are people who talk in sound bites, express phrases that they have heard or read but know little about. The assumption that all Christians believe exactly the same thing when they do not, the assumption that all Christians are door mats, to be used and abused, the assumption that being a Christian is some fad that does not need careful and in-depth research, the current idea that we are all “woke” lefties against growth. Christianity has always been a rod to beat people with and it always will. Being a Christian means knowing God not just knowing about Him, understanding why we believe what we do, being able to express our faith in clear and deep terms. It is about honesty, integrity, love, hope, peace and assurance. Those are not just trendy words but clear expectation of the Christian faith. If you do not know what they mean, what their background is then please ask, look them up, know what the Bible clearly says.

17th October 2022

1 Corinthians 13:7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Recently I came across a social media post that that listed off different people and their choices, and said after each one, love them. The whole point of the message was love people no matter who or what they are. It can’t be that simple, can it? We look for reasons to condemn, it is hard to love those we disagree with, but we manage it in families, in relationships because none of us can agree on everything. Jesus was persecuted because He did not follow the rules imposed by the leaders, the rich, the powerful who dictated the way people should live in order to keep them suppressed. When you begin to offer love instead of hate, forgiveness instead of judgement, peace instead of disquiet, you become a threat to the status quo. Jesus quite simply loved people, the poor, the sick, the prisoner, the child, the woman, the tax collector, the fisherman, the pharisee, the Sadducee, the priest, the Samaritan…… He loved everyone, even though they often hated him in return. We are called to love everyone, even if we struggle with their life choices, their sexuality, their gender, their race, their colour, their disability, whatever or whoever they are, we are, we all deserve to be loved and not judged. It is love that brings change, love that cannot be vanquished, love that defeats death and sin.

16th October 2022

Philippians 2:4 Do not look to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The UK now has more than 14 million living in poverty and it is rising sharply. More and more children are now living in poverty, more than in the Victorian era. Children are going to school hungry, with empty lunch boxes. Children sharing 1 small sandwich between 4. Free school meals can only be accessed if you earn below £7000 a year. That is £136:60 a week, that is £19:23 a day to live on. Remember out of that there are the bills to pay, the travel cost to go to work. The fact that anyone can earn as little as that in today’s society is in itself appalling. Poverty affects physical health and mental health, every moment is a struggle. The cost of living has risen sharply, gas and electric has risen sharply, rents are rising sharply, one in 3 people who have never had to access a food bank before are now going there. Demand over the last 3 years has increased 128%. People going hungry is not something to boast about. We are all called to consider others, to look out for one another. That means no one should go hungry. No one should worry about feeding their family. All of us can help, play a part. Give generously to food banks, help where we can, look out for neighbours, the elderly, anyone who is struggling. If you are struggling, please ask for help. It always amazes me that those who give the most are those who have the least. Families who have struggled in the past, those who are doing just about okay will always give, while many of those with much more, more than they need, will give very little but make a big show of it. 

15th October 2022

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.

We celebrate Harvest because people have always thanked God for the food, the crops and seasons. This week is also the Jewish festival of Sukkot. They build shelters in their gardens and eat there, worship there and celebrate God’s provision of food when they were in the desert. We are now living in a country where two and half million people are using food banks. This is rising weekly. The Trussell Trust are seeing over 2000 extra people each week come to them. The same applies to the Independent Food Aid network who also run foodbanks. These foodbanks and community fridges are all run by volunteers. They provide food parcels for those in need. Contrary to what many politicians and media outlets would have you believe, going to a food bank is the last resort. The fact we even need foodbanks is an indictment on a rich nation like ours. Those who access foodbanks are people with long term health issues, single parents, but also nurses, Teaching Assistants, care workers, cleaners and huge amounts of people who have zero hours contracts. God created a world with enough for everyone but that only works when we are willing to share and value others.

14th October 2022

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Sometimes a funeral in church can be followed by a lengthy, slow drive to a cemetery for a family plot burial. Funeral cars travel slowly and can often have 8 or more cars following behind. I was brought up that if you see funeral cars, you do not pull out in front, or at any point in the cortege behind, you do not overtake and at lights and roundabouts you let the cortege through before pulling through the junction. The respect that was afforded to funerals is long gone. People will now happily pull out, try to force their way in, overtake, won’t let you through a junction and just walk out to cross the road in front of you. It is a real skill to drive a hearse slowly and try to keep everyone behind. The respect we should all offer is because this is a life that has finished on earth, as we all will one day. These are grieving families, as we all will and do experience. This is a situation where no one wants to be but everyone has to be at some points in their lives. The least any of us can offer is compassion, patience in waiting just a few moments for cars to pass through, not honk a horn or shout obscenities because the traffic is held for a few moments. None of us would like this behaviour towards us or our family so we need to be more respectful and compassionate towards others in these important moments of life.

13th October 2022

Luke 17:18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?

We don’t hear about Leprosy much these days. Now controllable by drugs, we understand how it is transmitted and lives can be lived pretty much normally. In Jesus time people were cast out from society, no treatment, to live a shortening and awful life outside the town or village. If a leper appeared to be healed, they were to go and show themselves to the priests to confirm their healing, to allow them to go back into normal life. Although Jesus is their healer, God is not given the glory, no one offers Jesus as the reason for their healing. Just one healed leper came back and praised God for what God had done. We must not forget to say thank you to God for the big things and the small things. The food in our cupboards, the home we have, the money we need, our job, family and holidays. There’s something about gratitude, about saying thank you that makes us appreciate life and the things around us far more. There’s something about getting a thank you from someone else that makes us feel good, deep inside. May we willingly give God the glory for all He does and thank Him for everything He so freely gives.

12th October 2022

Mark 11: 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Religion up until Jesus time had become about ritual, as long as you did the right thing at the right time, in the right way, all was well. If you then went and behaved monstrously well you’d done your bit so you were fine. Jesus explains that Christianity is about faith not ritual, about God’s grace, forgiveness and love and the expectation of the forgiveness, grace and love we should show to others. The early church moved, sometimes falteringly, from ritual to faith and forgiveness. Of course, ritual would never be gone, it aids us, guides us but the problem comes when ritual is what defines us and not our faith and the living out of that faith. We still practice ritual, through services, sacraments, liturgy etc but it is why we do it and how we behave as a result that matters. Our faith, our willingness to forgive, to practice what we preach, to live out our faith every day, that's what really matters. 

11th October 2022

Luke 17:15&16a And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at Jesus feet, giving Him thanks.

I am sure most of you were brought up as I was to say please and thank you, to be well mannered. Yet so many people trample over others, get what they want and never say thank you. How often do we thank God? We are great are asking for things, often coming to God with a long shopping list of things we want and yet so often we forget to say thank you for all we have, for all we are, for everything God has given to us and done for us. A serious question we all need to answer is, what are we thankful for? Do we know that God has richly blessed us or do we believe that we are the ones who have provided for ourselves by our own hard work and influence. We pray for help, strength, healing, wisdom, patience, before a job interview, about family issues, and when they happen, we so easily forget that God has been part of the process and we completely forget to thank Him. All 10 lepers knew who to go to, who to ask for help, just as we do, regularly promising God that if He does this for us, we will……go to church regularly, pray every day, tell others, make a stand on things…. And then when all goes well, God blesses us, and we do not make good on our promises. May we learn to say thank you for everything, every day, to God and to others, it will make all our lives better.

10th October 2022

Mark 1:30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her.

Mark’s gospel is the shortest one and goes straight to telling of the beginning of Jesus' ministry, it starts quickly. Jesus gathers His disciples and starts to cast out demons and heal people. The impression given is of someone who may well be a huge public figure, but still has time for ordinary people. Peter’s (still called Simon at this point) mother-in-law is ill; Jesus came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to look after them (verse 31, ESV). There is a quiet and simple pastoral care in what He does. We might think she deserved some peace after being ill, but 'she got up and served them' this shows her recovery is instant, full health immediately restored, no half measures with Jesus. Her healing inspires others who need help to come to Jesus as well and that evening, the whole town gathers under His ministry. As Jesus helped and healed all these people he wants to help and heal us. Whether we are sick physically, mentally or spiritually; sad, lost, angry, hurt or just feel forgotten, Jesus is ready, willing and able to help and heal.

9th October 2022

Matthew 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

The ninth letter of the Greek alphabet is Iota, it also has a meaning, something very very small. The term is used in Matthew to mean even the smallest part, smallest mark, the jot or tittle as we sometimes call them will be lost from God’s word. These were often very small marks above a letter which if forgotten or lost would change the meaning or sound of the letter and the word it made up. In early Christian times much argument was made about the Trinity based on small marks on a piece of paper. How easy it is to mislead someone if we forget a comma, an apostrophe. People often say something does not make an iota of difference, but actually even the smallest of things does matter, does make a difference. Our words, attitude, facial expression, actions, not doing something, not being somewhere… everything we do and say matters, even the smallest of things can change a situation. The good news from the Bible is that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, He does not change, even the smallest thing cannot change what Jesus did for us on the cross or His love for us every day. God is consistent, God does not change and God will never change in how He feels about us.

8th October 2022

1 Peter 4:10 As each of us has received gifts, we should use them to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.

Collecting food for Harvest, or collecting regularly for the foodbank, challenges us with our responsibilities to each other and to nature. As we give thanks to God for all He has given to us, we also promise to keep our environment safe for future harvests. It cannot be just about us, or about the rich landowners who look for profit, we must remember those who will come after us, our world was created for all, not just this generation. Harvest gifts remind us about how we use the things which God has given to us. We can use all God’s gifts wisely for our benefit and share them with others for their benefit, or we can abuse them, be completely selfish and justify our selfish actions to make ourselves feel good. Today and every day we each need to ask ourselves how we can use the gifts God has given us wisely, sensitively, compassionately and for the benefit of all and not just for ourselves or our rich paymasters. 

7th October 2022

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

As a youngster I had plans, hopes and dreams for my future. I always wanted to work for God so that one came true, but I also wanted to write and record songs, sing in a pop group, travel the world and have enough money to be comfortable. Having these dreams is good for us, something to aim for, work towards, but also we must be open minded enough to allow our dreams to change when life changes and when things we don’t necessarily expect, happen. I did not expect to become seriously ill at 18 and lose musical ability, some physical ability and have to give some things up. Plans are all very well until the unexpected happens. Proverbs sees that the reason we often make our plans is for money, status, power or because we want the best for ourselves and sometimes for others too. Wisdom in Proverbs is like someone who instructs us, helps us, guides us. Wisdom comes with experience and learning. We are unwise if we chose to ignore the experiences of our past and the experiences of others who can guide us. The future is an unknown but we do not face it alone, we have God on our side, he holds both our hand and our future and we can trust Him to get it right.

6th October 2022

Ephesians 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

How much do you value your independence? We long, as young people, to be able to go out alone, to have our own money to spend, our own time to use as we want. When I visit care homes, I find folk talk of losing their independence. They have spent years making their own decisions, now someone else tells them when to eat, sleep, dress, wash, even go to the toilet. We spend so long fighting for independence only to lose it as we age. For some independence never really comes because of disability, illness, gender, culture and circumstances. Our independence allows us to learn, to develop, to pursue our own interests as we take responsibility for ourselves. God did not make us robots, but humans with minds, hearts, skills, abilities which allow us to be both independent but also be part of a community that values both the individual and the whole. Our independence gives us the opportunity to restore and encourage the independence of others. At a difficult time like this, with so many in need, pushed into poverty by poor economic decisions, with little independence; as we value and develop our independence, we can help others do the same by sharing a little of what we have with those who have very little.

5th October 2022

Genesis 2:15 The Lord God placed humans in the garden of Eden to work the land, to care for it and keep it safe.

Harvest festival falls in the time of the Christian calendar represented by the colour green; this is a really appropriate colour with all of its ecological and environmental connotations. As humans we all have an impact upon the natural world. We are all consumers or producers, so we are all links in a long chain of action which can either protect or destroy our world. God put humans into the Garden of Eden to look after it, to be caretakers or stewards. With our increasing technology we are able to change the substance of plants and animals so that they can resist disease or be more productive. However, this same technology also puts our world at risk. As we plough more and more into the ground, alter genetics to get bigger and better harvests, stop allowing the ground to rest regularly, we just prevent the ground from restoration and thus cause even more problems in the long term. As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to take of the natural world so it can take care of us.

4th October 2022

Matthew 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The Bible contains many stories about wealth, mostly warnings against greed and about what we put in place of and before God in our lives. It seems that the more we have the more we desire. People long for fame and fortune, a bigger house, a better car, a top job… more, more, more. We become so focused on these things that we lose sight of God. The more something overtakes our life the more God is pushed out. There is nothing wrong with wanting good things, fair pay, better housing for ourselves but if they become our focus God is relegated to the back and we become selfish and often greedy at the expense of others. We need to put ourselves back on track, out God first because then it all falls into place. We need a change of mindset, to see God and His ideal for all to live well and fairly to be our focus. The top of society wants more and more to squirrel away and look where that is getting us right now, with more poverty and hunger than Victorian times. We need to make God our top priority, our first and more important treasure, the rest will then fall into place.

3rd October 2022

Romans 1:25 Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!

It is really important to celebrate harvest every year in a meaningful way. It is probably more important today because we need to be reminded of our dependence on food and God’s creation. We also need to be reminded about our responsibility to treat the world properly. We have the potential to do so much damage to our world and as we witness the ravages of climate change, we can see that we already have. Harvest offers us the opportunity to focus upon our environment, to thank God for it, and consider our responsibility to our environment. Whatever you think about climate change, no one can deny the terrible droughts, more and more land becoming desert, incredibly destructive storms and wild fires we now see almost every week. We have done terrible damage to God’s world and we need to commit ourselves to caring for God’s world in a much better way. 

2nd October 2022

Genesis 8:22 As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.

At the beginning of October, we usually celebrate Harvest in our churches and schools. As we talk to people about Harvest, we discover that many of us are not clear about where our food comes from. Today most of us live in towns and our contact with the countryside is very little. I meet children regularly who have never been to a farm, never seen farm animals and have no idea that eggs come from hens or milk from cows. We don’t seem to know much about the seasons, farming or the agricultural calendar. Much of our food is processed and packaged, we don’t get it from the field and the farm, instead we get it from Tesco, Lidl, Sainsbury’s or some other supermarket or shop. We buy imported fruit and vegetables which are not in season in our own country. God gave us the seasons, the weather, the land to grow our food and yet we have so easily become divorced from this and so lost the importance of knowing about the very food we rely on to live.

1st October 2022

Acts 17:28 For in him we live and move and have our being.

Do you like to move, maybe to dance? Movement can help recentre us in our body and unlock our innate gifts. It can offer the peace to be who we are without worry and it isn’t forced or controlled. It provides a personal peace that loosens us and brings us back to the heartbeat of humanity, and that makes us the best peace mediator we can be. As we breathe, we can feel our posture, our body shape. We can change that shape, move our bodies into shapes of praise, worship, humility, service. We can use music to enhance this experience and to change the mood. But still, it is essential to breathe. Our breath is the centre of our life, breathed into us by the creator Himself. In Him we live and move and have our being. As God created us, he gave us life, breath and being. We can do all that we can do, we are sentient beings because God made us that way. May every breath remind us of that.

30th September 2022

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

When all is said and done, the gospel comes down to forgiveness. God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of each other. When we recognise our own frailty, our own need for forgiveness it helps us find our compassion, our empathy, and our own forgiveness for the frailty and cruelty of others. We recognise that we are all the same, all imperfect beings in need of saving grace and forgiveness. We cannot sincerely love the other or forgive another’s offenses if we see ourselves as separate from God and from each other. Our imperfect world offers precisely the conditions for the expression of these aspects of divine love; forgiveness, empathy and compassion. Without radical forgiveness, received by us and freely given by us, there can be no future. We forgive because we have been forgiven. We love because we are loved. We extend to others the grace so freely given to us by God.          

29th September 2022

Luke 16:20 At the rich man’s gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores.

Often, we are told the names of characters in a story, in the Bible we are not told the rich man’s name, he was just called rich and he was mercilessly aware of the presence of poor Lazarus. Lazarus was in a desperate situation of poverty, open sores, dogs licking them, and in terrible hunger. Lazarus wasn’t even allowed to have the crumbs that fell from the gluttonous table of the rich man. Lazarus had a bad lot in this life, and many folks around us have a bad lot in life which is not their fault. On the other hand, the rich man has a good lot. Right now, many rich people have seen their already good lot improved even more by unfair tax breaks that reward wealth not work. At death, Lazarus goes to paradise, the rich man to Hades. That is not saying that rich people cannot go to heaven or that poor people will always go to Heaven. It is actually about how we treat each other and how we treat God. Is our wealth, possessions, jobs, homes etc so much more important to us than God? Are His ways ignored by us? If that is the case, then we cannot expect God’s help if we ignore Him.

28th September 2022

Luke 16:8a The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.

The dishonest steward or manager realises that no one will come to his aid because of his bad behaviour, so he makes a plan to change things. He calls on the people who owe money to the Master and negotiates reduced settlements. It makes him popular. We can imagine the results of this action; the debtors would be eternally grateful. If the manager shows up in a few weeks, and asks these debtors for a job, they will have a sense of obligation to him. The man will land on his feet. It was a stroke of genius to ingratiate himself to people who could help him out after his job loss. Jesus is not praising the manager for his morality but praising his decisive action. When this man discovered that his livelihood was threatened, he proved resourceful and clever. In his determination to provide for himself and his family, he took strong decisive actions in a crisis situation. Jesus advises that we too should take decisive action, especially about our spiritual lives. When we find ourselves drifting spiritually, when we find others in need, we must take action because our future depends on it.

27th September 2022

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Every couple of years as contracts are renewed, we get new phones. I take ages to learn how to do things, I am very slow at learning how it works and each time I do something I have to refer to the manual. Gareth on the other hand plays around and makes lots of mistakes as he learns how to do things only referring to the manual when he is desperate. When I was younger, I had a poster which said “If you want the World to work perfectly then follow the Makers instructions” Below this sentence was a person reading a Bible. We constantly hear about problems in our world, global warming is a huge issue and commentators ask what can we do? How did we get here? Is there anything we can do to stop this? Following the Makers (God) instructions would have stopped us getting to this point but it also offers us ways forward that we can use even now, but we think we know better! We play at things, test them, try them out and if we make a mess we don’t worry, we just go back or try something else; very occasionally, if we’re desperate, we turn to God, to His word and want an answer immediately. Being a God of grace, He has given us those answers in the Bible, His instructions on how to live and care for the world, He has given us the Bible, BUT, do we read it? The Bible is so important to our Christian Faith, it is special, Holy and should be treated as such, but it should also be read and used. We do not treat our Holy book as well as many other religions do and we often leave them gathering dust on the book shelf. God gave us the Bible to use so let me encourage you to read your Bible, find out what God has to say on everything from marriage to children, from music to poetry, from gardening to punishment and so on. 

26th September 2022

Luke 16:23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.

Through stories and parables Jesus often explains to us the kingdom of God; in simple terms it is about loving God and loving our neighbour. Like many of the parables Jesus tells, He uses them to place a large mirror in front of us so that we can see ourselves clearly. He then stands next to us as we look in that mirror explaining what our life, our words, our thoughts, our behaviour and our hearts should be like. In Luke 16 the mirror is on the rich man and even though we may not be rich, there is a message for us. The riches and possessions of this world mean nothing to God and are worthless in eternity. One of the most poignant moments in the Queen’s funeral was the removal of the symbols of her power, crown, Orb, Sceptre, and their return to the people. They meant nothing in eternity. The rich man chose the riches of this life and his clothes and his comfort and ignored God and others. Lazarus didn’t have anything much in this life, But he had God, God had his back and so Lazarus had eternity. We have choice, it is ours to make and there is no one else to blame.

25th September 2022

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Maybe it`s being a priest or because of my faith but whenever we go away we tend to visit the local cathedral or parish church. I love the sense of history HIS STORY that you find in each one and the stories of human struggle to erect and keep these places special! Coventry is one of these special places. You have the old ruins, bombed in World War 2 and the new Cathedral with it`s beautiful glass and tapestry. For me two things stand out; the cross of nails, two big nails had fallen into the shape of a cross during the bombing, and the words of forgiveness written underneath a wooden cross made from bomb damaged beams within the ruins. From the brutality of war time destruction came a sign of hope, a cross of nails. From the brutality of a Roman occupation came hope, held to a wooden cross by nails. From a battered, ruined Cathedral came a message of forgiveness. From a battered ruined body came a message of forgiveness and new life. When we think of symbols of love we tend to think of hearts, flowers and rings. Perhaps the most powerful signs of love are nails, a cross and a battered bruised body that died so we might live. If you ever get a chance to go to Coventry Cathedral, go and see the glory of new and old, the cross of nails and the message of forgiveness.

24th September 2022

Luke 16:11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?

Hollywood movies often glorify the anti-hero. The ones where the star of the movie is the bad guy who is so lovable that the audience winds up pulling for him. They might lead a gang of cutthroat robbers but are such delightful characters that we hope they will escape their fate. We all know that it really is a bad thing to pull for the con men and the crooks We might expect it from Hollywood, but not from the Bible and surely not from Jesus. Jesus appears to be praising a dishonest manager. We are told, we cannot serve God and money. Don’t make money a bigger deal than it is. The wealth of this world is tainted and temporary, and is to be distinguished from the permanent treasure in heaven. Money is not an end in itself; it is a resource. And if we believe the message of stewardship in the Bible, all that we have belongs to God. We are indeed merely stewards, like the steward here, and we should not squander the Master’s resources, the Lord’s creation. We need to be trustworthy with little so that we can be trusted with much. God wants us to be shrewd with the wealth that He has entrusted to us, so that we serve God and His people in need.

23rd September 2022

Psalm 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

When the boys were young, we would try to get to the beach every year and just let them play. With all the constant warnings about the sun we bought them wetsuits. These gave sun protection, help when it was cold and gave extra buoyancy. Gwyn and I would often walked along the beach talking and enjoying all the lovely things we would find. When Gwyn was about five, he asked me about the waves, where all the holes go and what happens to the castles that have been built. I began to explain about the tides coming in and going out and after a while he said “So twice a day God sends the tides to wash the beach clean.” He has always had a knack for summing things up. That comment got me thinking, twice a day, what a lesson for us. I was brought up with the idea of keeping a short account with God, and doing that by morning and evening prayer, twice a day! Although we can pray at any time and in any place and let me encourage you to pray at any time; our real business with God needs to be done at the start and end of the day when we can deal with all the mess and rubbish we’ve accumulated. Just as God sends the tide twice a day to wash the beach so God will wash us clean when we come before Him and ask for His forgiveness. If you don’t already do this why not try and get into the habit of keeping a short account with God and letting Him wash you clean each day!

22nd September 2022

Luke 20: 46 Beware of those who like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets.

At the Queen’s funeral it was good to see that some very important people, as they may well see themselves, were further down the Cathedral than perhaps many expected. It was also amazing to see the Orb, Sceptre and Crown of the Queen returned to the people. In death all are equal. We take none of our power, status, wealth or authority with us. We see, so often, the richest and most powerful cling to power, cling to wealth by exploiting the poor, the widow, the orphan. In complete reversal to Robin Hood they rob the poor to keep the rich, rich. In many instances those who hold power are also rude and often proud, interesting that a former US president has said he would not have accepted the lower place given to the current President. I think that says it all. Too many now have a self-serving belief, that it is all about them and yet God is clear that those who mistreat others will pay the price. Those who cling to power will be forgotten, those who use what they have for others will be remembered. We are all equal in God’s sight. No one has the right to trample on another for selfish gain, BUT, those who get it good in this life will be expected to use the blessings they are given to help others, not just themselves.

21st September 2022

Luke 16:7b Take your bill and make it eight hundred. You are forgiven two hundred.

In Jesus teaching there are many lessons in forgiveness. Forgiveness of wrong doing, of hurt, of a debt. The dishonest steward, once caught out, forgives debts to curry favour with those who can help him out. He actually forgives things that he had no right to forgive. He forgives for all the wrong reasons; for personal gain and to compensate for past misconduct. But that’s the decisive action that he undertakes to save himself. We are all called to forgiveness. Called to forgive it all, to forgive it now, to forgive for any reason you want, or for no reason at all. But we need to forgive. There is no bad reason to forgive. As we extend the kind of grace God shows to us in every possible situation, to others, it can only put us more deeply in touch with God’s grace. The steward worked in the unrighteous currency of money. We are called to be good, decisive, active stewards in righteous currency. The currency of God’s kingdom, the currency of forgiveness.

20th September 2022

1 Timothy 2:2 I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone, for kings and all those in authority.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he exhorts us to pray, to offer prayers of supplication, intercession and thanksgiving for all Kings and those in high positions. We are invited to bring our leaders, our monarch, in fact, anyone in authority, to God. We are called to ask for wisdom, strength and guidance on their behalf. St. Paul understood that the political climate was important for the Early Church to thrive and for all individuals to live freely, peacefully and in accordance with God’s Word without consequences. Sometimes we may not feel like doing it, especially when those in leadership seem not to care, or seem to be more concerned about self than service. But right now, we have come together and we have prayed for our new King, his family, their grief and the funeral. We are called to carry on praying for the new king’s faith, to thank God for the wonderful faith of the late Queen. We are called to continue to pray for all who grieve and all who have died in the faith of Christ as Queen Elizabeth did. 

19th September 2022

Matthew 4:4 (Deuteronomy 8:3) Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

How many loaves of bread do you get through in a day? In a week? I know many people who go to the supermarket each evening to pick up the dated bread cheaply because their families eat through loaves when they get up, come home, packed lunches etc. Some folk insist on a fresh loaf every day and will not eat day old bread. I also know people who will not throw bread away even if it is mouldy because they can cut the mould off and they will not waste food. Then there those who will only make their own bread, fresh, free from additives. Is this a reflection on life? There are those who get through as much as they can, those who start fresh every day, those who hang onto everything, never really starting a fresh and those who feel that only their style of life is correct, free from additives!! Perhaps a more mixed approach is better, we need to live life to the full, we need to start each day fresh and clean and not be hampered by the past or mould of life and we also need to learn from the past. We need to try and not pollute our life with the additives and distractions of life on earth today. Quite a tall order, but a balanced approach! Just as bread is the staple food, let’s remember that the Bible is the staple food of the Christian. All new priests are given a Bible because their ministry should be based on God’s word. We give new Christians and confirmands a Bible so that they will feed on God’s word and grow as Christians. Let me encourage you to read your Bible regularly and to try to lead a more balanced life, a full life, a fresh life, a life not in the past but learning lessons from the past and trying not to pollute our present or future. 

18th September 2022

Deuteronomy 5:33 Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and thrive and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

Currently people are queuing for many hours to pass the queen’s coffin as it lies in state. Many faith people are acting as Chaplains to the crowds as they queue. The stories coming out are ones of respect, caring for each other, sharing food and drink, helping each other and being polite and courteous. In 2019 the Queen spoke of the need to speak well of each other, to respect each other and our differing points of view, and to seek common ground. I think she would be proud of how people have respectfully come together and how they are behaving toward each other. Being courteous and polite to each other means being well mannered, well behaved, gracious, kind, considerate, thoughtful, respectful and offering a helping hand to those who need it. When we behave like this, things go well, and people thrive. For us all to thrive we rely on each other’s behaviour, respect, good manners, consideration and kindness. We all need each other to do well. Sometimes that means being the voice of reason or stepping up in a difficult situation, seeing the bigger picture and standing for the good of all. For our society to thrive it is vital to be polite, to be respectful of each other, to make sure everyone is treated fairly and well.

17th September 2022

2 Corinthians 5:17 When anyone is in Christ they are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.

What’s in a name? We used to have a cat called Casper. Traditionally Casper is the name of one of the Three Kings and it means wealthy one or treasurer. Both our sons names were chosen because of their meanings, one means God rescues and one means fair and great. My husbands name means gentle one and my own name means youthful one. ( I’m hanging on to this as I get older) Names are very important, many a poor child has found themselves on the end of playground jokes because of their name and many of us shorten or use a middle name because we dislike our given Christian name. In the Bible Simon has his name changed to Peter, the rock on which God will build His church and throughout history many people took a “Christian” name when they were converted to the Christian faith. This was a name that meant something and marked the change in their life. From this came the term Christian name. Now we call it a first name. Do you know what your name means? The internet can help or name books. Perhaps your parents chose your name for you because of what it meant. The good news is we all have a name that does mean something, a name that means we belong to Christ. We are covered by Christ, we take on his nature, before God we become as Christ. He stands with us and we take the family name of Christian, follower of Christ, saved by Him ! So what’s in a name – our future is !

16th September 2022

Luke 22: 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

We are all aware of Peter’s denial, we hear it every Easter, we read the anger in his replies and the terrible guilt and sorrow when he hears the rooster crow just as Jesus said. What we tend to forget is that we all do it, we all make mistakes, we all break promises to each other and to God, we all deny Jesus in some way or another and often we are too blind to see what we have done or accept our fault. One of the most amazing things about God is His love for us which means we get not just second or third chances but multiple chances. When we recognise our faults and admit we have failed or done wrong, when we are sorry for these mistakes, then we are forgiven completely, and we continue with God as if nothing has happened. We are restored. We may have to do some apologising and restoring to others when our mistakes impact on them, but with God we are forgiven, and He gives us chance after chance. Peter went on to become head of the early church, he stood up for His Lord and did eventually die for His faith, crucified upside down. May we recognise when we make mistakes, be willing to admit our faults, apologise, make amends and know God’s forgiveness no matter how many times it happens.

15th September 2022

John 20:25 Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.

Many of us worry about scars, marks on our body from injury, or from accident. We worry that people can see something, a vulnerability and we buy products to cover them. Many women stop wearing bikini’s after having children because they are embarrassed by their stretch marks. The demand for perfection in magazines and celebrity has left our society believing scars are not to be visible and are an embarrassment. Yet, scars are actually a visible sign of what we have survived, what we have given. Scars show the incredible ability of our bodies to recover and mend but the scar it leaves is a reminder of what we have come through. Jesus scars were an identifying mark of his death on the cross. Only He could bear those scars, they were His proof of His sacrifice, of His death and then of His resurrection. Our beloved queen quoted from pilgrim’s Progress when she said “My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought his battles who now will be my rewarder." Our scars are marks of survival, of love, of what we have been through, of the battles we have fought and we should be proud of them, not hide them away.

14th September 2022

1 Kings 3:19 Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.

I have often wondered what makes a good judge. Many television representations do little to make them seem good honest people. Donald Trump’s manipulation of The USA Supreme Court Judges has shown how people can be appointed not on their merit but on their willingness to agree with and support a certain political view. In the Bible judgement is God’s domain but He enables leaders to become judges, not because they can be manipulated, but because they have His heart. The key is quite simply discernment between good and evil. In fairness we have developed a considerable grey area in between the two, where we offer possible excuses, mitigation and can be open to manipulation. No human is perfect, none of us can be completely right so here we are offered a way forward, an understanding heart. We cannot decide someone’s right or wrongness without understanding, without experience, without the compassion and empathy within us, these are put there by our compassionate and empathetic Father God. May we pray for that understanding heart that gives us true discernment.

13th September 2022

Proverbs 21:3 To be just and fair is more desirable and acceptable to God than any sacrifice.

Sometimes life can be really difficult, everything that can go wrong does, people who you thought were friends or at least would be helpful drop you right in it. Everything you do seems to lead to something else extra you had not planned for, the cost of food is now such that every penny must be counted and things gone without. At the beginning of a new term things are always busier, there are always more costs for families, the routines have been got out of and now need developing again. Everyone is getting tired quickly, the darker nights are on their way and the people who had helped have disappeared. I seriously wonder at the strength some people have to keep going. I know several teachers who have come back to work with extra supplies, food for hungry children, stationery, even clothes for pupils they know will not be able to afford them. How dare we as a society allow this to happen. How dare we blame the children and their parents. How dare we use our ability to do well to call others inadequate and blame them. God counts the hairs on every head, no matter their status, God wipes every tear no matter the age or skin colour, God sent His son for every human no matter their ability to pay or not. Any society that allows its citizens to go cold, hungry and homeless is not as God requires. Things need to change and we, however small, can play a part in that if we so choose.

12th September 2022

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the broken hearted and grieving, He saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Queen Elizabeth dedicated almost her entire adult life to our nation and commonwealth. She treated everyone with the utmost respect, even when they didn't deserve it, during the course of her duties and her private life. Even if we are not huge royalists, even though most of us never actually met her, she has been a constant in the majority of all our lives. Her death in itself may bring us to different levels sadness, but what it does do for all of us is remind us of those we have lost, those particularly lost in Covid, those we could not grieve for properly, those whose funerals we could not attend or even, in the early days, actually have. This offers us a time to grieve, to grieve for our Queen but also for our own loved ones who we miss, whose memory we treasure whose presence we miss. It is often said that the death of someone else who may not even be that close to us, or of a pet, can bring to the surface the loss and grief of the past. As we grieve our Queen, let us take the opportunity to grieve those other losses of the past and be kind to ourselves.

11th September 2022

1 Corinthians 16: 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

Friends, we now live in a very momentous but sombre time; The longest reigning monarch has died. The Elizabethan era has come to an end. A new monarch, a King, now reigns. This first Sunday of our period of national mourning falls on September 11th or, as Americans call it, 9-11. 21 years ago, in 2001, the world experienced acute pain, shock and grief in those horrific terrorist attacks. Our Queen wrote a letter of condolence to the relatives of the victims of 9-11, she wrote: “Nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments. Grief is the price we pay for love.” These words seem particularly appropriate on this 9-11. Grief is the price we pay for love. The Queen, throughout her remarkable reign, had a steadfast and natural faith which sustained her and she said that “Christ’s example helps me see the value in doing small things with great love.” Even in grief may we see the value of doing the small things with great love.

10th September 2022

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.

We are now in an official period of mourning for our Queen. The term mourning means the state of being in deep grief. We mourn over a profound loss, such as the death of a loved one or a terrible accident. We also mourn over our own sins or mistakes, those things we get wrong. We mourn for the purity of heart we once had or for a future where our bad choices mean our best future is destroyed. Mourning is part of our being human. It is the way our hearts respond when something we deeply value has been taken from us. Mourning can also be a way to show our recognition that we have dishonoured God and His morality. Mourning is painful but can help us realign our hearts and minds with the heart of God. Mourning is a familiar theme in the Bible. Ezra mourned over the sins of his people. Nehemiah mourned at the news that his beloved Jerusalem lay in ruins. We mourn the death of our Queen but we mourn knowing we have eternal hope, knowing Her faith assured her, as it assures us, of eternal life, that death is not the end for those who are in Christ. So even as we mourn we are blessed and we are comforted by our Saviour and Lord.

9th September 2022

Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.

Today we mourn the loss of our dear Queen. The majority of this country have known only her as their monarch. Only a few short months ago we were celebrating her platinum jubilee and we saw the love and respect that people had for her. One of her most endearing qualities was her faith in God. She promised to dedicate and devote herself to her people and asked God to help her keep this promise. On each pound coin you will find Elizabeth II by Grace of God, queen, defender of the faith, written there. By the grace of God, she has defended the faith, our faith. She said that Jesus Christ was the inspiration and anchor in her life. She spoke of Jesus as a role model of reconciliation and forgiveness who stretched out His hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example taught her to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none. Queen Elizabeth was never quiet about her Faith. Her example to us is one inspired by God, may we know that strength of faith and devotion to God’s people and to the service of all.

8th September 2022

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

As a teenager I loved singing the worship song based on this verse; Be bold, be strong, for the Lord thy God is with you! It speaks of not being afraid and not being dismayed, but yet at times we are afraid, we are dismayed, worried and concerned, we struggle with our confidence. God knows our feelings and emotions and how they affect us. He knows we fear pain, death, loss of money, job, family, home etc. God does not ask us not to acknowledge that fear and despondency; He asks only that when we are afraid and fearful, we allow His boldness, His strength, to settle in and on us. He asks us to offer up how we feel to Him and let Him take the strain. In God’s strength we can and do face anything. We find an ability within that enables us to cope and often to come out the other side stronger people. There is nothing wrong with being afraid but we need to let God in to stand with us and give us His strength.

7th September 2022

Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?

We are currently talking a lot about the cost-of-living crisis. The cost of our bills, our food, our petrol, our clothing has gone up hugely. We are all beginning to evaluate the cost of things much more and decide if we can actually afford them. Cost is so much more than monetary value. As a child I wanted a puppy, I was sat down and told about cost of the puppy, it’s food, the vet, taking it for walks, keeping it clean, chews, toys and so on. It was made clear the cost was too much. In everything we have to decide what the true cost is and if it is worth it. Everything in life has a cost emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually as well as monetary. As we consider the cost of anything we have to consider the short- and long-term cost. If something costa us everything, is it worth it? Following Jesus has a cost. God is very clear that we should count the cost of being a disciple, we must decide whether we are prepared to pay it. Things are easy to say, not easy to do. Jesus was prepared to pay the price, to pay the full cost for us on the cross. The question is, are we prepared to count the cost and give our lives for Jesus.

6th September 2022

Psalm 115:1 Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

All of us at sometime like to bask in some glory. The winning run, chair of the committee, solo in the choir, a bonus, a promotion, saving someone, having a book published etc. We like to be given some credit for our hard work because life is difficult enough without some positive pats on the back to keep us going. Sadly, for some, they become hooked on that feeling and the adrenaline rush it brings and they can even desperately set themselves up to be heroes so they receive more and more acclamation. This verse in Psalms reminds us that we actually deserve none of the glory, it is only God himself who deserves glory! It is this glorious God who loves us, is faithful to us, who saves us. The wonder of this glorious God is that He also encourages us, pats us on the back and says to us, well done. Although God deserves the glory, He still offers us, undeserving as we are, glory and majesty because we are so precious to Him.

5th September 2022

1 Corinthians 6:11 You were washed, you were sanctified, you were made new and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Over the summer my Chaplain’s office has been redecorated. The cracks and holes in the walls now fresh and clean, the flooring replaced, a new sink and taps and a new radiator. I may, at last, not be so cold this winter. It was like walking into a new space, it smelled new and fresh, it was brighter and I was so pleased. Words like clean and new are used in the Bible, they describe taking our old, cracked and damaged lives and transforming them into fresh, clean and new lives which stand out and which reflect God’s glory and transformative power. We have become a throwaway society, if old or slightly damaged, cracked and dirty we throw it away and get a new one. No repairs or redecorations, no cleaning up, no transforming it. God does not throw us away, He does not look at damage, cracks, dirt or problems and He does not throw us away. Instead, He loves us, heals us, cleans us up and makes us new again. We become a fresher, cleaner, happier version of ourselves. The great news is that unlike my office which will not receive another makeover for many years, we can receive a makeover every day, God is willing and able to always clean us up, repair the damage and make us new again.

4th September 2022

Isaiah 40:21 But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

After 2 years of Covid, lockdowns, huge deaths, long covid, fear and worry, it has been hard to adjust. We forewent holidays, rest times, exams, public interaction and this allowed things to change in ways we could not imagine and left the wonderful of excuse of covid to prevent a return to normality. Job losses, working from home, social distancing, not meeting people, websites still having excuses as to why they’re slower, not offering the benefits of the past or the options we are used to. Meanwhile the cost of everything is rising and wages are not. There is no respite, we Lerch from one thing to the next and the hard work and savings of years are now gone. That retirement we saved for, gone, that home we saved to buy, gone, that holiday we saved for, out of reach. We are tired and low. Yet God promises strength, that nothing is beyond our ability to cope and that we go through none of this alone. God reminds us to rest in Him. To trust Him. To let Him take the strain. To rise again and soar in His strength. It may seem difficult to do, but be encouraged, we have a God who keeps His promises.

3rd September 2022

Ecclesiasticus 10:12 The beginning of pride is to forsake the Lord; the heart has withdrawn from its maker.

As I see the front page of many papers, I am conscious of the constant drip about migrants crossing the channel. BUT, did you know that of all these migrants the papers tell us about every day, only a few in every hundred are actually illegal and not actually entitled to asylum. Our press has become a voice for the right wing, populist, Britain first government. Those who try to hold them to account are removed, truth and honesty have been replaced with fake news and even our precious BBC, who had a reputation for honesty and impartiality, is now just an arm of the government who has replaced all the senior people with govt appointments who act as puppets for a governmental voice. Friends, we are in dangerous times, our very democracy is under threat. The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord…… to forsake the poor, the vulnerable, to forsake justice, honesty and integrity. We must decide who we stand with? God and His ways or the ways of this land and its treatment of those most in need. We are called to choose who we serve. I hope and pray we will choose to serve God by inviting the poor, the migrant, the refugee, the disabled, the vulnerable to a fairer life because we will no longer accept the ways which reward only the rich and powerful. I stand with God and I hope you do to.

2nd September 2022

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as an approved worker who has nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of truth with precision.

We all want to be the best friend, parent, child; the best at our job, the best we can be. We all come up short. The time we forgot the changing bag for the baby, said the wrong thing to a friend, made the wrong decision, forgot that anniversary. We are not perfect, humans just aren’t, we have inherited the imperfections of all humans but all God wants from us is to do our best, to try. No human is perfect, only Jesus ever fulfilled that role and in doing so allowed us, with our imperfections, to be loved and accepted by God. God is only ever asking us to do our best. As long as we try, as long as we offer ourselves to His service, God will always be with us, on our side, blessing us. As long as we try our best, we have nothing to be ashamed of. God’s word is full of encouragement, full of forgiveness and love, full of help and advice. As long as we try our best, pray and ask God for His help, that is all that is required of us. God will do the rest.

1st September 2022

Ecclesiastes 3:16 I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness.

The balance of our society has become in favour of the rich and powerful minority at the cost of the ever-growing majority who are treated like the serfs once were by their land owners. We have returned to Victorian poverty. Hungry children, more and more work for less pay, higher costs while not being given higher wages. Whilst the few take their places at the top table, we are expected not just to sit lower down but rather to wait on those at the top, pick up their scraps and be grateful for it. I cannot understand how energy companies can pay billions to shareholders, millions to chief executives in bonuses and salaries, take huge profits and then say the consumer must pay more. Meanwhile these rich powerful people claim they can’t afford to pay their workers fairly. We are told it’s the fault of the poor, the migrant, the person on benefits, anyone but the rich who are quickly getting richer. Did you know that during covid and this last year we have created more billionaires in this country than anywhere else. All created off the need and suffering of the ordinary people. God believes in equality, fairness and justice for all, not just the few, but for everyone. The question is, do we believe this and are we willing to do what we can as Christians, to achieve it?

31st August 2022

Luke 14:11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Currently we have a lot of people who have such high self-importance they believe they are entitled to the place of honour. Most of us would not want to make more of ourselves than we are. Also right now, we are looking at poor and vulnerable people who cannot feed their family, heat water, wash their clothes, cook food, buy food, heat their homes if they can even afford a place to live. I do not know all your circumstances but I do know statistics would suggest there will be people reading this who are struggling, people in your street, in our community who are at their Wits end. I do not pretend to be a politician but I do know that MP’s are not moved into doing something for us because they have their bills paid for them, they can claim their heating and not just for one home but for a second if they have it. They can eat in subsidised restaurants, claim for their phones, all their travel, cleaners, computers, food costs, hotel bills. The list of expenses they can claim is endless. We do not have that option. If it does not affect them personally, they will do nothing. God, though, is quite clear that this behaviour, this treatment of the poor and vulnerable is not acceptable and Just as they watched Jesus closely to see what he did, people watch us. If we are willing to let the poor suffer, to ignore the disabled and vulnerable, to make excuses for the rich, for the government, then others will do them same.

30th August 2022

Genesis 27:14 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

When you think about God working among us you might share my amazement at how often things go wrong and yet God's will is still achieved. The human side of life is messy! God's purposes are ultimately accomplished, but not without significant delay and hurt. In this family, an important patriarchal family in the Jewish faith. Each parent stakes a claim for a favourite child and then Esau flippantly sells his birth right to his brother. There is very little to admire in how the characters behave. Isaac ignores the prophecy and intends to give Esau, his favourite son, the blessing of the firstborn. Esau, having sold his birth right, goes back on his oath. Rebekah, devises a plot to deceive her husband and Jacob implements it. This family unit is in conflict and completely breaks down. We can easily look at all the players in the picture and see how they're all to blame, and yet God uses these imperfect people to work through His plan anyway. Sometimes we write ourselves or others off because of our imperfect, human failings, and yet God chooses us and uses us. God never counts us out so we should never count ourselves out.

29th August 2022

Luke 14:7 Jesus noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, so he told them a parable.

Have you ever been invited to a special event or party where celebrities are, where money is no object and only those who have certain contacts, money, influence are ever invited. This has never happened to me and I expect not you either. If you watch red carpet events there are certain people who automatically demand the most attention. Others who are ignored and overlooked because they are not currently as valuable. Sadly, the fans exacerbate this issue cheering for some and not others. It seems the more popular you are, the more popular you become. The more money you have the more you seem to get. The more celebrity you have the more you receive. Here is a lesson in human relationships and pecking order where we must decide whose side we are on. Do we look to the rich and celebrity and dismiss the poor as irrelevant? God says the poor, the disabled, the vulnerable are the treasures to be cared for, celebrated and given the places of honour. As Christians we have a duty to stand up for those in need, to fight the corner of the poor, disabled, elderly and vulnerable.  

28th August 2022

Mark 3:2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.

One of the simplest and yet most difficult things we are called to do as Christians is to love each other. To do this we must see each other! Really look and see one another. We must notice the people who are easy to overlook as we go about our busy life. Would Jesus have been really loving if he had asked those that he healed on the sabbath to come back tomorrow when it wasn’t the Sabbath and then I will heal you. He didn’t do that. He reacted out of love. So, we also must act out of this love when we are living out our faith on a daily basis. God encourages us to use our gifts to make life better for other people. The Spirit will prompt us to live with justice, mercy, kindness, and love? Ask yourself each day, is there something I can do that will make it easier for someone else to fully participate in life as God intended them to. What do we need to change to make things more accessible for all of God’s children? How do we take what we hear and experience in worship on Sunday mornings and live it out the rest of the week? Jesus kept his eyes open to see the people in need and the problems in society that needed to be called out. We need to see each other. To see need and to do something, to keep our eyes open and to call out those things in society which hurt and damage people.

27th August 2022

Luke 13:13 When Jesus laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

Many Bible stories about Jesus contain healing, sometimes physical, sometimes spiritual or mental, sometimes relational. Many of us would identify with the people who need to be healed. Most of us would love to be healed from something. Maybe a relationship that has left us feeling broken. Maybe our life isn’t what we hoped it would be. Maybe we are grieving the death of someone and that emptiness inside us is too much. Maybe we are angry at things beyond our control and we can’t let go of our anger. Maybe our body is no longer allowing us to do things we used to enjoy and is failing physically. If we think about it, every one of us would like healing. Everyone would like to have their need acknowledged and their brokenness restored. My belief is that healing comes in many forms and at different times. Sometimes we will live with things, but strength to cope is freely given. Sometimes we have to lean into the issue and let God take the strain. Sometimes time is a necessary part of that healing. However it happens, and it does happen every day, my hope is that when we are healed, we will react as many of those Jesus healed reacted. They praised God and they told everyone all about it. 

26th August 2022

Matthew 25:45 ​“What you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.”

Covid and now the Cost-of-Living crisis has shown that the flourishing of the very few has been at the expense and suffering of the majority of others. When any one of us diminishes the humanity of another, we dismiss and diminish the image of God which each human bears. While this suffering and hardship continues, while we turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to those suffering around us, when we continue to allow those in authority to act with impunity to the detriment of those struggling, this is to disregard the warning of Jesus: ​“What you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.” The flourishing of some cannot be at the expense and suffering of others. As we see God in each other we must pay attention; look out for people who are struggling, listen out for quiet pleas for help and offer support and care where we are able. We can campaign, petition and vote in favour of packages and measures that help those disproportionately affected by the crisis. We can reach out to our local MP and engage with them. We can go to the local Citizens Advice branch, CAP centre or foodbank, find out the local needs and campaign for them to be addressed. We can also pray. Pray for our neighbours and our communities, for compassion and empathy, kindness and generosity. And remember, whatever any of us do for the least of these, we are doing for Jesus.

25th August 2022

1 Peter 4:9 Be generous with the different things God gave you, sharing them around so that everyone can benefit.

It is good to be pleased or even a little proud of ourselves when we do well. When people speak well of us and our actions, it is to be accepted as a compliment and a blessing to us. One of my pleasures is when I am told I am generous. We try as a family to give of our time, our money and our talents to help others, we do have two priests in the family after all. But, for all of us where we have enough, others do not, and so it is good to help where we can. We do not do it for the recognition as none of us should, but sometimes a little positive encouragement gives us the strength to continue. We see that the little we are doing makes a difference. Each of us has been given gifts by God, gifts or abilities which mean we can help others if we share them freely. Gifts and abilities are given by God that we can all have a better life by sharing together. Where there is need, we can step in and cover and the same can be there for us. Sometimes we need reminding what our gifts are, a beneficial activity is to look at yourself and write down your gifts. Then it is good to think how we are sharing those gifts with others to help them. It can also help to look at how we have benefitted from the gifts of others. Of course, we may discover that we are a little mean with what we have and perhaps the challenge then is to give more freely, knowing we will also be freely given to by others in Christ.

24th August 2022

Luke 13:11And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight.

Here we meet up with someone who needs physical healing, bent over for 18 years, unable to stand up straight. She did not ask to be healed, but tried to blend in with the crowd so as not to draw attention to herself. Even when everyone else ignored her Jesus saw her, Jesus noticed her. This is one of my favourite things about Jesus, He sees people. He sees this woman who most people probably ignored firstly because she was a woman and also because she has a physical disability. Some people are invisible, even today disabled people are not seen or are purposely ignored. This is also true of children, the elderly and women. But just as Jesus saw her, Jesus sees you, your situation, your need; Jesus sees you and wants to do whatever is necessary to help you, heal you, care for you. With some simple words and a touch of his hands, Jesus heals the woman. She is able to stand up for the first time in years and the first thing she does is praise God. Her life is forever changed because Jesus saw her. Our lives are forever changed because Jesus sees us. May we praise God for all He does for us.

23rd August 2022

Luke 13:14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”

In many of the stories about Jesus there features a Religious Person or leader of the time. It is very easy for us to see these people as the bad guys of the story. They speak out what they know to be true, in this instance that anyone can be healed any other day of the week except on the Sabbath because the law says they cannot work on the Sabbath. These people are often faithful people who live by the Torah and have studied the scriptures and worked hard to live in the correct way. But meeting Jesus they are told that they are wrong, what humiliation at being corrected. We could easily call these people vicar, Sunday School teacher, PCC member, choir member, person in the congregation. This person is us. This person is me and you. I am a rule follower. I love knowing what I am expected to do so I can do it. And I am very hard on myself when I cannot meet those expectations. Churches are places and people with rules. These are the ways we govern ourselves and what makes everything work in our churches. Many of our rules are unwritten and are just the way we do things. Jesus isn’t instructing us to throw out all the rules, but Jesus is encouraging us to think about the rules that govern our lives. Are they fair, correct, just and loving? A Sabbath day makes good sense as our bodies need rest and time to worship and renew. But healing someone cannot be put off until tomorrow. God works through us now whatever day of the week.

22nd August 2022

Romans 15:7 Therefore, accept and welcome one another as Christ welcomes you.

How welcoming are you? Do you make people feel at ease in your home, in your church, in your workplace? Or would you much rather people did not invade your places? I expect many of us would say, depends on the person or people. Being people of welcome was crucial in the early church. Even they had issues, should Christianity just be for Jews or Gentiles as well. Even those first church leaders had to be reminded by God and each other that everyone was welcome. The example of Jesus was that He welcomed everyone. His followers were from every walk of life, every gender, every level of society and He made it clear that all were equal in His group and that this should permeate all of society. Unfortunately, the way of imperfect humans, particularly males, have made sure society is not welcoming of everybody, that levels of wealth and power are maintained and that many are made very unwelcome if they do not fit into the set pattern they have made. We all fall into that trap, avoiding the homeless, not helping the foodbanks because we hear, via a bias press and government, that these people are just scroungers. Jesus welcomed everyone, no if’s no buts. We too must welcome anyone into our churches, welcome the poor and needy as much as the wealthy and powerful. We need to open our minds and hearts to everyone no matter who they are or what their background is for that is the way of Christianity as Jesus taught it.

21st August 2022

Ecclesiastes 1:2 Nobody remembers what happened yesterday. Don't count on being remembered.

We all go through a time when we want to be remembered. We would like a place in history, our name on something or in the history books. It gives a sense of immortality; our body may have gone but our name lives on. If you were asked who are your favourite names from history, we can all real a few off but in the context of the many millions who have lived it is a relatively small pool to pick from. It is true that most things in life are forgotten, before the web the phrase todays news, tomorrows fish and chip wrapper was often used as the papers are onto something else the following day. We all want someone to remember us and it is fair to say that we do live on in other’s memories of us, but those memories are only for one or two generations. It seems cynical but so little of life and history is really remembered and it is fair to say that the history we remember is always written by the victors and so will not be the full and honest truth. The memories we hold of others and they of us, should be good ones, it is right to strive to be remembered as good, honest, caring, loving people. Even if the world does not really remember us for long, God does remember us. God knows us, by name, he knows the number of hairs on our head and sees all those tears we cry. When everyone else has long forgotten us, God has and will not. God never forgets us.

20th August 2022

Jeremiah 2:31 Young women don't forget their jewellery, do they? Brides don't show up without their veils, do they? But my people forget me. Day after day after day they never give me a thought.

How forgetful are you? I am really good at putting something down and forgetting where I put it. I don’t always remember conversations until I am reminded and I really struggle with learning names and faces these days. If I really need to make sure I remember something I write myself notes, even send myself emails as a reminder. I love making lists where I can clearly see what I need to do next. The point being made here is that actually we are good as human beings at remembering the things that are important to us, the things that matter in our lives. We tend not to forget to pick our children up from school, or the doctor’s appointment, or where our jewellery and valuables are. We tend not to forget meals out, concert tickets, our own birthdays, our own phone numbers and emails. The problem is we are good at forgetting those things not important to us, so in the case of God He does not have the importance in our lives that He should have. We tend to put more and more in front of God until He just drops off the end of the list and is no longer important to us. We need to be reminded to put God top of the list again, to make our relationship with Him important and to restore the daily communication with Him. God needs to be in our heads and in our thinking, in our hearts and our understanding, in our eyes and our looking, in our mouths and in our speaking. God should be in every part of our lives and not forgotten. (phrases from the Book of Hours in public domain)

19th August 2022

Proverbs 10:28 The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hope of the wicked will perish.

Don’t you just love straight talk, no if’s or buts, if we do this this will happen. I grew up in a home where strict rules were enforced, and you went against them at your peril. The Old Testament is quite often straight talking about the consequences of actions. Life was simpler, language less confusing and right and wrong were very black and white. People understood the rules and laws and kept them knowing that if they didn’t punishment was severe. Much of the Old Testament makes the choice of following God very black and white. The prospect of being righteous is joy, in other words if you are a good, righteous, honest person you will find joy. The antithesis of this is that if you are wicked, you will suffer. The consequences of wickedness, lawlessness, dishonesty, lies, fraud, abuse and the like, is death. Sometimes it seems this punishment is a long time coming and there are a few of our present leaders who certainly have and are behaving wickedly, they will get their comeuppance. They will not have the prospect of Joy because their behaviour is damaging and against God’s ways. We all make mistakes, and the wonder of God is forgiveness, BUT we must recognise our wrongdoing, apologise and make amends for it. We do that because we recognise God and His impact on our lives, and in doing so, we are forgiven and find joy. If we choose wickedness the path to suffering is very easy and downhill all the way.

18th August 2022

Proverbs 15:22 Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed.

My husband says the best piece of advice his father ever gave him was to get on and marry me. For once he took his father’s advice and we have been married for 29 years. We can all be very funny about advice, particularly when we are young, thinking we know better, thinking that older people know nothing, but good advice can be blessing that stops us making stupid errors and saving us pain. When we make plans to do work on our homes, we listen to those who are experts, we get plans drawn up and we decide if it is possible or not. When we study for qualifications, we listen to those who know, we study and learn, we follow their guidance. As we grow up, we become who we are often because of our upbringing and the values our parents have passed onto us. Those who have experienced life longer, who have become experts in their field, who have made the poor choices and want to share how to avoid them with others, these are people we should listen to, take good counsel from and so succeed. I do like the fact that when we are told to honour our parents, they are also told not to exasperate us. The listening to advice is so valuable and when it is our turn to give it, the way we give it, the way we offer our pearls of wisdom matters.

17th August 2022

Psalm 57:4 I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts, men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.

The Psalms are great for summing up how we might feel at times. They have these wonderful verses about how everything seems to be going wrong, then followed up with expressions of gratitude and praise for God because even in the midst of dark times He is there. I love this verse comparing our difficult times to being in with lions and ravenous beasts, sharp teeth and swords. We get the picture, this is serious, people in with lions don’t survive, spears, arrows and swords wreak havoc and bring death. This is a deep dark situation where there seems to be no hope and yet verse after verse of despair is followed by verses of praise and recognition of God’s care and presence even in this terrible time. The battle between being in the depths and trusting God is a hard one and can be a daily one for many. Life can be cruel, unfair, debasing and yet God promises we are not alone, He stands with us, understand us and will not let us down. The lions might be near and hungry, the spears and arrows raining down, the swords sharpened and ready and yet the protection of God stands between us and them, day after day. May we spare a moment even in the dark times to thank God for His goodness to us.

16th August 2022

Ephesians 4:25 Put away all dishonesty and speak truthfully to all, for we are all part of one body.

Think of a time when you lied or cheated, why did you do it? What makes us lie to someone, bend the truth, act dishonestly? Whenever we speak to anyone it should be in a truthful, loving & caring way because that is what God demands of us as Christians and as His children. Just think about how you feel when you discover that someone has lied to you. You feel betrayed, you feel cheated, you wonder why and you no longer have trust in the person who has lied to you. If you feel like that when someone lies to you, you now know how others will feel if you lie to them, so why do we do it? We really do struggle with our human nature; we think that covering up our mistakes and errors through lies will actually make people think better of us and yet we can clearly see just how badly it damages people’s opinion of us. As humans we are caught in this balancing act where we do what we don’t want to do and don’t do what we want and ought to do. St Paul spoke a lot about this in his letter to the Romans. The response is to let the Holy Spirit enable us to stand firm in truth and honesty, to let Him prompt us when we are tempted to lie and to recognise, we are all part of God’s family and none of us deserve to be lied to by another.

15th August 2022

Judges 6:13a “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about.

On the occasions when I have asked God some awkward questions I was not as polite about it as Gideon was here. He politely challenges God about why they are in such a mess and why hasn’t the God who did all the wonderful things of the past do something wonderful now. Many of us think this if we are honest. We look at stories in the Bible, of miracles, healings, battles, callings, visitations and we ask why not me, why not now? We feel we want to hear a loud bombing voice or see a river split open to reveal dry land, or have food delivered from the skies or hear a donkey talk or a man live in the belly of a whale for three days. We tell God that if He did some of these things now people would believe, being a Christian would be easier. But then I am pointed to Jesus, His story, the miracles, healings, water to wine, food for 5000, defeat of death and did they all come flocking? Did they all believe? The answer is no. You can offer all the proof in the world to people but many will not believe even then. When I ask God awkward questions, I don’t often get straight answers but I do get reminders, points in my life when time and again God has stepped in, in the right way at the right time. Gideon is reminded of God at work and goes on to do wonderful things for God, may it be the same for us.

14th August 2022

Philippians 4: 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is virtuous, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.

I grew up with the term “selective memory”. The choice someone made to remember or forget something as it suited their needs. Current politics and journalism seem to thrive on this, forgetting to hold people to account, forgetting to observe laws, forgetting to honour promises and pledges when it suits them to do so. The term selective is a polite way of saying choice. People making an active, purposeful choice to forget a promise, break a law, abdicate responsibility, all to further their own lifestyle. Remembering and honouring things is crucial to our learning lessons, retaining knowledge and building upon it, and keeping the promises and commitments we have made. The term virtue is an old word, not used much now, probably because of what it means; behaving to the highest moral standards. Yet it is exactly what we need to do right now in our country and communities. Philippians calls us to think on or dwell on things which are good, virtuous, true, honourable, right and pure. Imagine if everyone only focussed on these positive things. With so much goodness, integrity and honesty in the world there would be no poverty, no one would be homeless, money would be equally shared, and leaders would not operate from selfish gain. We cannot change the world overnight, but the change starts with us, we can make a difference today, each day, we can effect change if we live as people of virtue, of goodness with the highest moral standards.

13th August 2022
Proverbs 10:9 Whoever lives honestly will live securely, but whoever lives dishonestly will be found out.

Would you describe yourself as honest? Perhaps more to the point would others describe you as honest? I consider honesty to be really important in life and have brought my children up to be honest, admit their mistakes, accept that we get things wrong and fess up when we make a mistake. Sadly, public life does not seem to worry about honesty any more. It has become acceptable to lie, to make excuses, to blame everyone else in order not to have to face the consequences of their actions. It seems that people aren’t energised to demand honesty from public figures any more. It seems that if you can get away with being dishonest people seem to admire you and not hold you to account. We need a reality check. Dishonesty in any part of life means a person is willing to lie, to cheat, to do anything to get their own way and keep their position. When it comes to honesty you cannot separate public and private life. If you are dishonest in one thing you will be dishonest in everything. It does seem that however much we try to hide our discretions; we will be found out. It may take a while but it will be revealed for all to see and hear. The question is whether we are willing to hold people to account and to hold ourselves to account. The best way to live before God is to remember that old saying, honesty is the best policy and if we stick to that and encourage others to do the same, this world will be a better, safer place. Remember that honesty and trust are linked, if we are not honest people will not trust us.

12th August 2022

Genesis 20:2 Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.

Being female and a priest means I experience some prejudice and sexist treatment. For me one of the most shocking and exasperating things about many of the Old Testament stories is how routinely women are treated as property and maltreated by those who are supposed to care for them and are in fact God’s chosen people. Sadly, and very wrongly, this treatment of women was normal in the ancient world, but sometimes, not as much as we should, we do find God's condemnation of this behaviour. Abraham, a hero in the three main religions, is willing to prostitute his wife for his own safety, passing her off as his sister so that Abimelech will take her into his house. Abraham shows absolutely no respect for her honour and no regard for her safety. He also practices coercive behaviour by telling her it is a test of her loyalty to him, and this man is offered as an example? I really struggle with this, as do most women. Abraham actually doesn't come out of this story well. The supposed wise statesman and proclaimed ancestor of all Israel is a terrible moral failure. Thank goodness God himself intervenes to save the situation. This is an example of shameful behaviour that we're more sensitive about today, but still not dealing with enough. It clearly shows that doing the right thing will often require moral and even physical courage. If we let ourselves be corrupted by fear, by sexism, by selfish gain, the consequences will be terrible.

11th August 2022

Zechariah 8: 4 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares.

We tend to be disrespectful of old age in the west. Instead of caring for our elderly we seem to prefer to either put them in a home or buy in care for them in their own homes. It is partly selfish but also is due to our own business and not being able to care for those who need it and work and look after our own families etc. The older generation give so much in bringing up their children and then often act as free childcare for grandchildren, the least we can do is care for them when they need it. I know this is hard, I have faced it myself, trying to help aging and ill parents while trying to do two jobs to keep the family fed and watered and having to live a distance away. This verse in Zechariah places our elderly in the streets of new Jerusalem, walking, with their canes, a sign of old age, sitting together in the squares. Here is respect, here are folk enjoying being together in God’s place and the verse after tells us that also in those streets will be children playing and having fun. No fear, no worries, no negative issues, just enjoying life. God wants us all, young and old, to enjoy our lives, to be cared for without fear or worry and if that is what God wants for us, that is what we should want for each other.

10th August 2022

Luke 10:13 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

We tend to think that seeing is believing. We want evidence to prove something. If we see it then we can believe it is true. As I have got older, I have become more cynical and less trusting of being told things. Too many promises not kept, too many agreements broken, too many negative experiences. When I work with young people in volunteer placements some are brilliant at giving me evidence of their attendance and what they have done and achieved. Others just presume that telling me they attended for several months with no way of validating this is going to be acceptable. To achieve things in life we have to have evidence, certificates, references, documents. Sadly, even then some people are not convinced. Here in Luke even though miracles have been seen, people healed in front of their eyes, clever and factual argument made, prophecies fulfilled, these people of the city of Chorazin will not believe. These people witnessed the mighty power of God in their streets for the better part of three years. Yet, it seemed to make no difference in their lives. We can experience the power of God, day in and day out, we can be shown the evidence of God working and still we do not believe. There are too many Godincidences in life to think there is no God. The evidence is all around us, the question is whether we chose to believe our eyes, our ears, our hearts and minds or not.

9th August 2022

Psalm 31:24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

A recent piece of research concluded that victim blaming has become a common response in the UK, rather than being compassionate and empathetic we have become people who blame the refugees for needing to leave their country, blame the person hurt in an accident for just being there, blame those attacked and raped because it makes us feel safer if we can find a reason. Blame everyone else instead of looking to ourselves. St Augustine said “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.” We should be angry, not at the person suffering but those who allow and cause this suffering. We should also channel that anger into courage to make a stand, to challenge the status Quo and to make those responsible accept their responsibility and if necessary, their punishment. Paul Boateng has recently quoted this quote in his work with the church on racism, he encourages us all to make a stand, to not let it be just words, but action. Step up in the fight against racism, step up in the fight against violence, poverty, fair wages, sexism, honesty and truth. We are right to be angry when things are wrong and we must then channel this anger, be courageous and demand things change for the betterment of all.

8th August 2022

Galatians 3:28 In Christ's family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal.

I long for a society where there is perfect equality between races, classes, gender, abilities, careers, rich and poor. Many tell me I am too idealistic, but I don’t think so. If you long for something and believe in it, you will strive toward it. You don’t stop until you get there and even then, you keep working to maintain it. I find as a woman in the priesthood I am often attacked by those who believe only men can be priests. We have just seen the rights of women over their bodies go backwards because of extreme and mainly male views. We have politicians in this country playing with Conversion Therapy and using their power to affect the rights of others. There is not equality and the large steps we had taken are very quickly being eroded in the cause of keeping certain people in power and finding someone to blame. The diversity of humans was understood by Jesus, by leaders of the early church who were then replaced by figures who asserted male dominance within religion. Their take on things gave us centuries of inequality and this continues. Every person has the right to find God and love their way. God is unconditional with His love and so should we. When we use archaic beliefs and practices to prevent freedom then we are not living in God’s image. Not one of us has the right to treat any other human being other than as an equal and I and many others, with God on our side, will keep fighting for that until it happens.

7th August 2022

2 Corinthians 8:7,13 See that you also excel in this grace of giving…Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be full equality in diversity.

How good are you at giving? Some people love to give, small gifts, tokens of appreciation, anything to bring someone else pleasure. Others cannot even be bothered to remember special occasions let alone give a card or gift. A friend of mine told me how her husband never remembered her birthday or Christmas etc. She would defend him as being too busy, I would suggest he did not think enough of her. Giving is a grace, that means it not deserved but freely given anyway. We give because others give to us, we know how it makes others feel and how it makes us feel. Giving costs so little and offers so very much. Research by the Trussell Trust who run many foodbanks, has found that those who give most are those who have the least. Their understanding of need, often of being helped themselves, means they are more likely to give even when they are hard pressed because they know what that food really means. They have also found that the wealthiest are the least likely to give, they keep their wealth for themselves. Our ability to give is inside us, often it has been lost by selfishness and greed. We stop giving because we believe we will be richer. The very act of giving makes us so much richer as people, as caring, empathetic and loving humans. If you’re not usually a giver, try it and see what happens. You will be a blessing to others and you will also be richly blessed.

6th August 2022
Romans 8:38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor even the powers of hell can keep us from God’s love.

Are you someone who relishes new beginnings or someone who struggles with endings? Maybe a bit of both? As things change, a new place of work, a new school, a new group of people, we all face worries and concerns? The future can be daunting, and we are not sure of what to expect, but also, we are aware that life is fragile and things can change very quickly for all of us. The one surety we have in everything is God’s love for us. When Paul was finding things difficult, he stepped out and wrote to the Christians in Rome about their futures and their worries. He shared the difficulties life can bring but then declared that nothing can separate us from God’s love and to reinforce his point he lists these things. Life or death can’t separate us, angels or rulers can’t do it, the present or the future can’t do it and the powers of hell cannot separate us from God’s love. So, as you face the future, it’s changes, its uncertainties, be secure in the knowledge that nothing, nothing at all, can separate us from the God’s love.

5th August 2022

Revelation 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

We all love to come first, from the sports days of our youth, to exams, to sports, to competitions, to queues, we just love being or going first. Of course, if there is a first there is always a last as well as a second, third, fourth etc. The further back we are the more we dislike it and coming last, we hate it, we are competitive as humans and see some sort of embarrassment and shame in coming last. Yet coming last offers the opportunity of improvement, it challenges us to examine our priorities and our gifts. If we are regularly last in something, perhaps it is not our strength. These comforting words about God being the first and the last I often read at funerals. They offer the hope of all of us that beyond life here is a future with God who is the first and last. It puts everything in perspective, at our beginnings and endings God was there first, in triumphs and failures, God was and is there first. In God’s presence at both beginnings and endings, as well as everywhere in between lies hope, encouragement and strength. There is no where we can ever go or be that God is not right there with us.

4th August 2022

Luke 10: 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.

We like to do, to be busy, be active, make something, cook something, clean something. As we keep busy, we feel like we have justified our existence and our role. This doing part of our nature is driven by our personality and our thinking. On the other hand we are also beings. Being comes from our soul and heart. Being is very much a spiritual thing. But neither is more important, and both are necessary for how we live our lives. The doing part of us relates to the world, our place in it as our worth is calculated by what we do, our productivity. It tends to occupy our minds daily as to where we want to go in the future, how to achieve this and who to work with to get there quicker. Being is about the moment we are in, realising our potential in that moment, that situation. Being fully present in that moment. Allowing our heart, our soul, our spiritual self to experience everything around us and our place in it at that moment. In Mary and Martha, we see one who is doing and one who is being. Both are needed and both are essential to life. I can’t just be and not feed my family, clean the house, do the washing but I also can’t just do those things and experience the fullness of life and who I am. We are Human beings; we do because there is need. The way we do will be affected by our being, seeing things either as a chore or as a blessing to others. We need a balance, time to just be, to be free to experience fullness of life here and now and time to do the things that will help ourselves and others, achieve goals and a future.

3rd August 2022

Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

Recently a friend of mine has begun playing bingo, he has a friend who finds it difficult to go out and socialise and they have found going to bingo helps with this. A lot of people in the community find bingo a place to come together, enjoy each other’s company and play together. The atmosphere is supportive and people clap when someone wins. For those who are lonely, older, find it hard to socialise, this offers a safe place in which to meet others and feel supported. This got me thinking about church. I am not suggesting we play bingo although I know places that have it as a church social activity; but it is the atmosphere, the support which makes me think. If a group of random people can come together over a game and be supportive of each other then so can a group of people who come together to worship God. When we meet together in church, we should make sure everyone is welcome and everyone feels safe. We should all be applauding one another when people do well and supporting each other in difficult times. There should be no levels of acceptance for one and not another. No pulling people down for doing well and no judging of others. This community spirit of playing bingo together should be in our churches when we worship together.

2nd August 2022

Colossians 2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

We all love to celebrate, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, exam results, new job, anything we can celebrate and congratulate one another on. It is part of our humanity that we want to celebrate good things. We want to say well done, offer praise, offer support and be part of that positive experience. These celebrations allow us to celebrate the goodness of life and that gives us a resilience to keep going in the barren times, in the difficult times. We now have life celebrants who take funerals that celebrate life. The word celebrate means to come together for a significant and happy event. The term is also used for the celebration of communion. The priest is termed as a celebrant. The logical deduction here is that communion is a coming together for a significant and happy event. It is significant because it is a memorial of Jesus final meal with His disciples which He told us to do together. It is also happy because although it commemorates Jesus’ death, it also celebrates His defeat of death for us, the eternal life given to us, and we remember these in the act of sharing Communion together. The act of celebration whether through Communion or a party or any type of celebration is testament to God’s creation of us as positive, celebratory beings.

1st August 2022

Genesis 18:32 “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

Every now and again, if you have credit cards, you will receive a letter telling you they are going to change their agreement with you. No negotiation, just we are changing this rate or now making a charge, or cutting the time you have to pay and you have to accept it or you can cancel your account. I find it really annoying and I think it is wrong that I cannot do the same to them, that I cannot renegotiate. This always reminds me of when Abraham negotiates with God. It is something we think God will not accept from us and yet Abraham does it because Abraham has a covenant relationship with God. He plays on God’s forgiving, caring nature and God says He will not destroy the city if Abraham can find 10 good people. Sadly, Abraham fails even to find 10 good people. We all try to negotiate with God, I will do this if you will do that. Sadly, as with Abraham, the promises we make mean nothing. People do not keep their promises to God and often don’t have any intention of doing so even when they make them. Almost in the very next breath they renege on them. Promises to God are so often made with fingers crossed behind our backs because we have no intention of doing what we say. This is now so common in our world, political leaders making promises they never keep, making claims which are untrue. God’s love for us is complete and utter, unconditional, there is no negotiation needed. His ways are also not negotiable because they are true, pure, good and holy. It us who must change not God.

31st July 2022

Acts 10:15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

In clubs and societies there can be rules about who can join. There are many men only clubs in London, many in universities and colleges. As much as we claim to be an equal society, we are not. There are still very few disabled people, women, black people, in positions of power and authority.

In the beginning of the early Church, the new believers faced a problem, should the followers of Jesus be Jews only, or should Gentiles to be included as well? Jews kept themselves separate and did not visit or eat with Gentiles. Gentiles on the other hand were attracted to Jewish religious ways.

Peter's vision of the sheet from heaven containing clean and unclean animals was sign to him that in God's kingdom the old barriers were to be got rid of. Both Jew and Gentile could be brothers and sisters in Christ, all could receive the Holy Spirit and all could be equal. Christians still worry about associating with the 'wrong' people or going to the 'wrong' places. There can be a sense that to be really holy, we have to avoid getting our hands dirty by avoiding people who don't share our faith or our opinions. This is the complete opposite of what Jesus did, or what Peter was shown by God. We are called to mix with people who aren't like us, and to share the love of Jesus with everyone, no matter who they are. Being a Christian is not an exclusive club, God wants it to be completely inclusive and only by sharing His love with everyone can this happen.

30th July 2022

Nehemiah 4:17 Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each laboured on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.

Although the trend is now not to test for covid regularly, we still do it in school if someone comes down with it on staff. Over the course of the pandemic, we saw the tests improve, easier to administer, quicker to get a result and more accurate. I do think we should still be providing tests for people as the figures can never be accurate when many cannot afford to test and feel like they have been told it’s all over anyway. Recent increases in numbers have led many to wear masks again, including me. I mix with so many folks that I think wearing a mask for their and my protection is sensible. The protection of self and others is a Biblical principle. As the people rebuilt the wall there were those attacking them, trying to stop them, so they worked with protection for themselves and each other. Life for Christians can be difficult, the abuse we may encounter is usually vocal but in many places the abuse is physical, attacks, destruction of property and violence. We are encouraged to protect ourselves and others. To stand up against those who would hurt us. God knows our situation; He encourages us to look after ourselves and others. It does not mean acting aggressively but rather reacting in love. Stepping away where needed. Speaking truth gently in love. Labouring together and looking after one another as we serve Him.

29th July 2022

Leviticus 19:32 God said: Show respect and compassion to the aged; honour the presence of an elder; fear your God.

I was brought up to respect my elders and betters. I am not sure about the better’s part as I believe in equality, but respect for those older and wiser is a good thing. I must admit as I become one of the older and I hope wiser, I don’t seem to get that respect. Perhaps the societal change means we no longer respect age or life experience as we should. No one is saying that just because someone is older, they must be respected and yet if they have lived longer, experienced more, been through far more than we have, we should respect their knowledge and learning and be welcoming of their advice. It is true that some folks try to play the older and wiser card to their advantage but mostly we share with others because we do not want them to have the pain or hurt we have encountered by diverting them from making similar mistakes. God’s teaching is very much about respecting the more senior among us, respecting those who have given their lives to serving God and helping us. Respect is given, not because God says but because it is earned, earned by a lived life, by experience, by faith. We may not always agree or wish to follow the advice given but that should never prevent us from respecting those who give it.

28th July 2022

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

The word compassion is often condemned as a snowflake term these days. Those in top jobs consider compassion to be a weakness and people who rise to the top often do so because of their hard nose attitude which has no time for compassion. It is good to ask ourselves if we are compassionate, if we are concerned for others and look upon them with understanding and not judgement or condemnation. Compassion invokes feeling, concern, sympathy for another when things are difficult for them. Because it is less common in its use these days, we might need to remind ourselves why compassion is important and that it does have a link to forgiveness. Compassion motivates people to relieve the mental, physical and emotion pains of others, it is linked to justice, fairness, sympathy and empathy. If someone is not challenged by these things, then they will lack compassion and the judgements they make will show that. God’s compassion for us means He does everything to help us, stands with us, supports us, strengthens us when we need it. God’s compassion also drives His forgiveness of us as humans. Compassion is a trait our world needs more than ever and it is one we can offer in God’s love and strength.

27th July 2022

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is a faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him.

How good are you at keeping promises? We make promises and vows throughout our lives, as parents and God parents, when we marry, legally when we purchase a home. An old word for promise is covenant. A covenant often has things that must be done by the recipient to validate the covenant. God makes many covenants with His people, with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and the New Covenant through Jesus. Time and again God’s promises are put to the test, covenants are broken, not by God, but by humans as they quickly forget their part when life is good and then come rushing back when life is bad. The final Covenant is through Jesus, where all the other promises are completely honoured and kept by God and offering humans the opportunity to have eternal life not by anything they can do or earn, but through the free gift of Jesus life on the cross, the defeat of death and punishment and eternal life with God. The promises are always kept by our faithful God, it is us who struggle to keep ours. Where can you see God’s faithfulness to us as humans? If you ever struggle think of all that we have from God, then count your blessings. God’s faithfulness is immeasurable, but it helps to recognise it and remember every day just how faithful God has been to us and will continue to be to us.

26th July 2022

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

We are so much better at recognising mental health needs now. Young people are aware how their mental health is as important as their physical health. We are learning that things we harbour within us are often the key to helping ourselves move on. When we carry something for a long time it will affect us. Finding peace through forgiveness is vital. That forgiveness may be what we are looking for from another or it may be something we need to offer ourselves. Being forgiven when we have done wrong is a really freeing experience. That ideal parental love which, recognising the wrong, gives a punishment and offers forgiveness, is vital to our stability and mental health as we grow up. We learn that actions have consequences but we also learn that forgiveness is possible. As others forgive us, we learn the value of forgiving others. The idea of restorative justice is not that someone is not punished but that they meet with their injured parties and see the damage they have done and then look for a way forward. Being forgiven is a wonderful experience but so is forgiving others. We tend to be less ready to forgive than be forgiven. In God eyes if we recognise our wrongdoing, He will forgive and cleanse us. Perhaps we need to be a little more forgiving of others and a little more willing to offer forgiveness as it is offered to us by God.

25th July 2022

Matthew 27:3-4 Judas, the one who betrayed him, realised that Jesus was doomed. Overcome with remorse, he gave back the thirty silver coins to the high priests, saying, “I've sinned. I've betrayed an innocent man.”

All of us get things wrong in life. For many of us the saying; there but for the grace of God go, I is quite apt. Have you ever done something really bad and then regretted it? The fact of regretting shows your remorse. Many today, who are charged and convicted of terrible crimes, never show remorse, are never sorry or even accept they did wrong. When we do wrong it is best to own up not to keep quiet. As some of our current politicians are finding things from their past keep popping up, things they wanted to keep quiet. If they had been open from the beginning and sorry, these things would not trouble them now. It is the hiding of our wrongdoing, the unwillingness to recognise and admit the problem that causes us problems. For Judas he recognised what an awful thing he did, he tried to return the pay off, the damage was done and yet it needed to be done for Jesus to be arrested and executed. Judas found his remorse was eating away at him. The good news for us is that forgiveness is freely offered by God when we are sorry, when we show remorse. In recognising and owning our mistake God can work in forgiveness for us and in helping those we have hurt by our words or actions. You have heard the old saying confession is good for the soul; our soul, our spiritual side, can be forgiven and wiped clean when we confess our sins and wrongdoing and accept our failures and then try to change.

24th July 2022

Colossians 4:9b He is coming to you with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you.

Have you ever been described as faithful? What do you think that means? If someone is faithful, they are loyal and steadfast, is that you? Onesimus was a slave who had robbed his master Philemon, and fled to Rome, where he could hide. In Rome Onesimus come across St Paul who was in prison. This encounter led Onesimus to become a follower of Jesus and he became a real friend to Paul. Paul sent him back to his master, no longer as a slave but as a co-worker in the gospel of Christ. The name Onesimus means helpful, useful and profitable. To smooth the return Paul writes a letter to Philemon pleading for Philemon to forgive and work alongside Onesimus. Paul speaks of his faithfulness, of him as a brother and as one of them. Paul was in two minds about sending Onesimus back because he wanted him to stay with him as a faithful, hardworking friend. This is a real turn around, a conversion of someone mistreated by being in slavery, doing wrong but then becoming the faithful servant of God that he was always meant to be. God believes in second chances. Onesimus had this gift of faithfulness, loyalty, stickability. His story asks us the question, what could we do to be more faithful? Perhaps we can think this over, produce some ideas and then try to put them into practice.

23rd July 2022

Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Do you like having people round? Having a party or a meal, providing food and drink? The hospitality we offer serves others, opens homes and places to people, feeds people and without expecting to be paid back. Hospitality is that joyful welcoming of others into our group, home, church and welcoming them with love, providing for the physical as well as the spiritual. We make a choice when we have people round, do I carry on doing the practical or do I stop for a while to actually be with the people as well as look after them. Do we wash up while the guests are there or socialise and do it later? Do we expect a return invite, or to be spoken well of by others because of our hospitality? Do we prepare as much as we can beforehand so we can spend as much time with people as possible? Hospitality is as much about spending time together with people as providing for their physical needs. Why do we invite people round? How do we actually treat others? Hospitality is not just the provision of food, water, practical things, it is also about spending time with people. Making people feel welcome, feeling at home in our home, at home in our church. It is about making someone feel at ease. Cared about as well as cared for. God calls us to open our homes to others, to share what we have and reminds us that when we do, we never know just how important and special those who come into our homes may be.

22nd July 2022

Ruth 1:20 Do not call me Naomi, she replied. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has dealt quite bitterly with me.

Over the years I have met children and adults with the most wonderful names. Names that reflect God’s grace and favour, names that reflect beauty and peace, names that are positive and joyous. Naming your child is a privilege parents are given. We often try to name them after a family member, a favourite name we like, a certain meaning. In some traditions Babies are named after the first thing a parent sees, or from the first word on a page in their Holy book. We named our children from our Welsh heritage, family traditions and our faith. In the story of Ruth, Naomi wants to change her name to Mara, meaning bitter, because her life has changed for the worse. A name is important and we were sure to choose names with good, encouraging meanings. In some traditions where girls are not valued when born, they are often given names of shame. Groups and charities that work with these children when they are literally thrown out of their families, are able to change their names on a new record and so thy give them beautiful names like Precious, Grace, Favour and Joy. In that change these girls find their value, a new life and a new family. In the early church when people became Christians they took a Christian name, a name that reflected the new family and love they found in God. I had the privilege of baptising a Muslim lady into the Christian faith and she took a Christian name to reflect her new faith and her new family. Names are important so may we choose them and use them with care and respect.

21st July 2022

Genesis 22:12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him.”

In modern society being unable to have children has seen remarkable advances in science. It is still a problem and affects lives but in comparison to Bible times there is no shame in this issue, and much can be done. We understand the complexities of the human body far better. The story of an elderly Abraham and Sarah having a child, Isaac, promised by God as Abraham is declared father of the nations, is one of great hope until Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son. This is a struggle for any of us. Child sacrifice is unthinkable, how could Abraham even contemplate this? Child sacrifice was actually a common religious practice among the surrounding nations in Abraham’s time. So, here is the crux of the matter; God makes it clear he does not desire human sacrifice, we meet the God who is not like other gods. We have a revelation of the true God, He does not require the death of children to be satisfied. Our God is not like that. The only death that will be needed is that of God himself, through His son. Abraham has a real faith in God, he does not always do well in his actions, but in his willingness, he meets the one true God and discovers His true nature of love and forgiveness. In the most testing of times we learn who we really are, who we really trust and just how faithful we are. These times also show God as He really is, how faithful and loving He is and how He works in amazing and creative ways.

20th July 2022

Deuteronomy 4:7 What other people are so blessed as to have their God next to them the way the Lord our God is with us?

July means we are at the end of another school year. Students finish a year group, move on up, some move on to new schools or other places. The effects of the pandemic are still casting a long shadow in education. Things have changed, some things have returned, and some things have gone for good. Staff and student experiences of this past and previous years will all be different. Through life we meet changes daily. Most of the time we don’t even think about them, different weather, different topics and studies, different food, different people. Big changes happen year on year. We meet subtle changes, immediate changes and slow changes as we grow. The greatest assurance we have is that we never go through these changes alone. All our endings and beginnings, all our journeys happen with God right there with us, if we want Him to be. We have a choice, even though He is right there we can choose to ignore Him. That is our freedom. We sometimes equate God’s presence with us to a guardian Angel, someone who is with us, looking after us. At times we may feel alone but we are not, we have help. It is often only later that we look back and see God’s hand at work and His presence right there with us. Some call this luck, some call it coincidence, I call it God and Godincidences. There is always help when you need it. No judgement, no strings, just support for you from God and from His people who he sends to each of us for support. Do not ever feel you need to cope alone. God’s presence is there with you, day by day. It is a promise made time and again in the Bible, through Jesus and through the Holy Spirit. We are never alone, God is with each of us, wherever we go.

19th July 2022

1 Peter 4:9&10a Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling, use whatever gift you have received to serve others.

In this chapter Hospitality is listed as a gift of the Holy Spirit. We all acknowledge the practical side of hospitality, but there is more. We have a choice to make. It can be a choice about duty or about spending time with someone. What or who do we make a priority. Do we prioritise our guests, friends, our family? Time is precious, we do not know our future, Covid has reinforced the fragility of life. Everyone has physical needs, but we can be so caught up in these that we forget too just be with someone. We want others to see us as busy, hardworking, but we can be too busy to have time for others, but hey, as long as we look important that is what matters. No it isn’t. It is so easy for us to do this, to justify all we do for God but not actually spend time being with Him. To make life all about doing when it is also about being? We need to be a real friend, a fellow labourer, someone others feel at ease with? We need to make the right choice here, not allow ourselves to be so busy that we neglect just spending time with Jesus. It is so easy to think being busy for God is the most important thing, but actually to be able to be busy for God we must also spend time with Him, listening, learning, growing and becoming better people.

18th July 2022

Genesis 18:5a Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way.

The story of Abraham and the three visitors is one of the main stories on Hospitality in the OT. It is also the first visual of the Trinity in the Bible. It is this very story that Rublev’s icon of the Trinity is based around; the Hospitality of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If you look at the Icon there is a place for us, it draws us in. God invites us into Himself. Hospitality is a gift from God to us and something we are all called to offer to one another. At the time of Abraham people who came through their settlement or village were fed and cared for. They knew that travellers would struggle, would need food and water, somewhere to stay. The word Hospitality means love of the stranger. God’s people were encouraged to welcome the stranger and care for them practically, with food, water, rest etc. Many really successful study groups, youth groups and prayer meetings happen around food. Alpha operates around a meal together before studying and learning. All the successful youth groups I have been involved in have been set around food, together. We learn that the physical needs of people are as important as the spiritual. That God wants to supply our physical needs as well as the Spiritual ones. As God freely gives to us so we are encouraged to freely give to others.

17th July 2022

Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a blessing.

You may have heard the recent highlighted stories of the many thousands of women forced to give up their babies because they were not married. They had no choice in the matter. The government forced it on them and the hospital staff who did this treated these already traumatised women appallingly, shaming them and physically hurting them even more. If you have seen the film Philomena you get a real sense of how terrible this is for women, how it affects them throughout their lives, the grief they have never been able to express. As much as societal rules are important, we really do get it so wrong sometimes. Forcing women to give up their child because they were not married is just evil, persecutory and not of God. It is human interpretation, usually by men, that has made these decisions and forced them upon supposedly free people. Children are a gift from God, women have the right to not have children or refuse to have a child caused by rape or incest, or that will damage their own life. To take someone’s child by force because someone does not agree with their lifestyle or their choices is not a justified power, only an opinionated, judgemental, attitude not of God.

16th July 2022

Roman 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Much is currently made of the cost-of-living crisis and rightly so. People who are hard workers are being priced out of the food market, people on benefits cannot feed themselves or their families, more children are living in poverty than in the Victorian era, children arrive in school hungry and teachers are feeding them out of their own pockets. Wage increases don’t touch the sides and only those in high management or company bosses and politicians are able to afford anything and don’t have to worry. We have to do something about this and our politicians must start to listen and experience life in the real world. I also believe we have a cost of dying crisis. People have experienced considerable loss from Covid; lives have been treated as cheap and unimportant by government and the wealthy, leaving dying as an end with no future. In the Christian faith the cost of dying has been paid through Jesus own death on the cross and is therefore assured. The lack of people wanting to find this assurance is a testament to us not sharing our faith, not telling others about the cost of dying and not being willing to speak up about our faith. Knowing Jesus is a matter of life and death and everyone deserves to be told about it and to have the opportunity to find it for themselves.

15th July 2022

Psalm 37:7a Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not worry yourself over the one who prospers.

The last couple of years have seen us experience many awful things. If we can see any positives from this dreadful time, it has been the realisation we need a better work life balance. People have found spending less time travelling, more time with family, working from home has been good for them. The pace of life for many slowed during the pandemic and many of us realised we were chasing our tails prior to this and that we had become a nation of people who work too much. God speaks a great deal about patience, about not dwelling on things but rather allowing God’s blessing to be upon us. It is easy to become too busy, to hide away in meeting after meeting, stay late at work just to finish, to travel further away for a better job, always striving for better, for more and in fact losing out on the wonderful things we already have because we are just to busy to enjoy them. It is also easy to become busy with things that don’t matter, that just take our time and offer no blessing or encouragement to us. Sometimes we link business with importance, if we are busy, we must be doing well, we must be important because people want us to do things. In reality people will always ask busy people to do things because they know it will get done. God wants us to have a healthy work life balance and have patience and take time for ourselves. Living life at a slower, less busy pace is the way to do that. 

14th July 2022

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

The term intercessor has gone out of fashion. Someone who stands with us and intercedes, or makes an argument on our behalf. It has been used mostly to do with the church and prayer. The idea of intercessory prayer is that the people of the church pray on behalf of others in the congregation, locality or world who need their prayers. It is an act of a corporate body, people taking responsibility for each other. We are also told that when Jesus ascended in to Heaven, he went to intercede on our behalf at the right-hand side of God. Not only that, Romans tells us that the Holy Spirit also intercedes on our behalf. Just think for a moment, at times we have lots of people, Jesus and the Holy Spirit interceding on our behalf. That is amazing and powerful and I think explains why we don’t end up in as much trouble as we could if it was just us. We must never underestimate the power of prayer, our prayers as individuals, as the corporate body of Christ, as interceded for us by Jesus and the Spirit. We can go to God about anything, anyone and know that we do not pray alone.

13th July 2022

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

I wonder what you think of the current Conservative leadership election? I must admit to feeling somewhat disappointed by the level of person putting themselves forward. Some very worrying language about grabbing power, not much said about honesty and integrity and virtually nothing about helping those most in need in the current Cost of living crisis. It shows a huge disconnect between these folk, mainly very rich, and the normal person like you and me. I am not in favour of one party or another, I do identify with proper socialism because Jesus was a socialist. I support truth, honesty and justice and want to see some real changes in policies and politics in general. Jesus came as a servant, to serve everyone, to seek and save the lost. A king, Son of God, a supreme being who did not and does not demand payment, favour or fortune to care for people. He does not write a manifesto of pledges to get votes and then not stick to them, He does not promise the earth and then make excuses as to why He cannot give it. All Jesus promises are true, are kept completely and no one suffers under them. True leadership lies in service, something all our current leaders have forgotten and, in their desire to grab power and wealth for themselves, they have forgotten that being a leader is a job only for those willing to give everything, including their life, for those they are called to serve.

12th July 2022

Matthew 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

When we disagree with someone or just don’t like them, we can be careless with our language and speak badly of others, using unpleasant language. The Bible warns us not to be unpleasant when speaking about others. In this verse Jesus says that a derogatory term used to put people down has no place in our language. The term he warns against is Raca, it means empty headed and was an offensive term that showed contempt for another. But it is quite clear that when we are angry with others, when we slander them or call people foolish, we are breaking God’s rules and laws and we are endangering our own eternity. How we treat another, how we speak to others matters, the old saying about sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me is simply not true. Names really damage people, get into their psyche, make people question themselves and do untold damage. We must not get into the name calling just because we want to be right or want to hurt others. We will not all agree but we can all respect each other and nor resort to names to try and score a point.

11th July 2022

Luke 14: 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited and made excuses will get a taste of my banquet.

As a teacher of many years, I have heard so many excuses over why homework was not done. The dog ate it, my mum didn’t put it in my bag, my baby sister ripped it up, I didn’t think I had to do it and so on. In 99.9% of cases, it is a lie, an excuse for not doing something and hoping to get away with it. Currently making excuses seems the norm in public life. Instead of being honest, admitting when something has not worked or we got it wrong, instead excuses are made, covering up in order not to appear careless or stupid. It seems now that no one tells the truth, and when we do, people just don’t believe it. Promises made to win elections are not kept with excuses as to why. Lies about events and people’s involvement in them are told and when caught out excuses are made. There are no excuses with God. We are told to show our love and faith by our deeds and actions, to be truthful and to be honest. When we mess up, we should confess up! We cannot make excuses, lie and be dishonest and then expect God to sort it out. God desires honest people who not only speak the truth but act on it. People who don’t just talk the talk but also walk the walk. No excuses, be honest.

10th July 2022

Genesis 16:13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Having taught RE for years, when teaching about Islam I would teach on the pilgrimage, the Hajj. One of things that always struck me was the running of Hagar to find water for her son in the desert. The story of Hagar is a domestic tragedy caused by Abraham who loses trust in God’s promise of a son. With his patience wearing thin and with Sarah's encouragement he takes matters into his own hands, something we all do. Sadly, the human behaviour causes a family battle where only God can protect the lives of Hagar and her son Ishmael. Abraham and Sarah do not trust their God enough, they try to force an issue and end up with an unholy mess. If we are given a promise from God, the fulfilment of that promise will be within the perfect plan, in His time and His way. This can be a problem for church leaders and for Christians who can be expected to achieve things now. Waiting can be hard, but it is far better than the temptation to cut corners in God’s plan, making an unholy mess, which only God can sort out. It is Hagar who is blessed, she has suffered at the hands of God’s people and God tells her He has seen her, he knows she has been badly treated and He will bless her. It is a reminder that whatever we go through, when we are treated badly by God’s people, God sees us, He sees us with compassion, He will bless us, and as He stepped in and delivered Hagar, He will step in and deliver us.

9th July 2022

Jeremiah 29: 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.

The political events of the last few days have shown us how quickly things can change and move on and that nothing we may plan for ourselves is ever certain. What are you plans for the future? You will have some short-term plans for the summer, for the autumn, but what about long term? Your career or profession, moving home, family etc. Only so much can be planned that will come to fruition. Much of what we look for in our future is hoped for. We look where we want to go and then work on how we get there. The longest journey starts with the smallest step. I have a poster that says “if plan didn’t work there are 25 more letters” Most of us are products, not of plan A or even B, but often of plan C, D, even J, or L. Life rarely takes us exactly where we want to go and things change as we grow and move on. I am a trained PE teacher who then ran a music department, who then became a priest, a chaplain and many other things besides. 14 or 15 year-old me would not have pictured me here, now. The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray is a saying from a Burn’s poem. It is true. The good news is that God’s plans for us are one’s promising a good future and promising hope fulfilled. Even when things seem not to be working out as we planned, we can be assured that God has it sorted. God will return us to the best place for us. The struggle will always be trying to force God into our plans instead of letting God’s great plans for us secure our future. There is nothing we can do about the past, it is over, we can learn it’s lessons, but we cannot change the events. The present is who we are now, the future is safe in God’s hands if we let it be. Can we say with St Paul I know who holds the future and he’ll guide me with his hand and as I face each tomorrow I will trust the God of miracles. Let me encourage us all to trust God and let plan A, B, G, L, P happen because it will be a good future and a great hope.

8th July 2022

Colossians 1:16 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude.

I love the light evenings, warm, often sunny, pleasant to sit out and the day somehow seems longer. Instead of feeling like the day is over before it’s begun as I do in winter, instead there seems more opportunity, more time to do things, more time to be with those we love. The garden is so much more alive, the tweeting and playful behaviour of the garden birds, neighbourhood cats strolling across the lawn or laying in the evening sun. Life somehow feels more peaceful, less rushed and there seems more time to be yourself. The wonders of how the worlds seasons work, how light and darkness change, how this affects our life and our well-being. God has given us so many simple pleasures which we take for granted. Instead of appreciating the good things we moan about the bad things and see little good because we have little appreciation of just what God has given to us. These light evenings and good weather really are simple blessings from God, ones we should appreciate and take advantage of, ones that are freely given to us and ones we should be thankful for. 

7th July 2022

Matthew 10 :24 No pupil is greater than his teacher; no slave is greater than his master, each is to be treated with equality.

Over centuries we have run countries organisations etc with a view that the leader, CEO, president etc are most important and give them the power. They in turn do with that power what they wish. Often it is used to dictate to people what they can and can’t do. The recent Supreme Court ruling in USA to overturn the rights of women in abortion is one such issue. No one should have that much power and no one has the right to dictate to another human what they can and cannot do. We are equal, everyone from the homeless to the CEO not only deserves respect and care but in God eyes when we do not respect one another as equals we are going against Jesus’ teaching. We have rules and laws, based around God’s ways but over centuries we have watered these down, re written them and given too few rich people the power whilst treating the poor, disabled, sick and old as those who are lower than ourselves and we have been coerced into believing they are the cause of our problems instead of seeing that those with the power are the cause of our problems. Democracy is fragile, those who get power from it will always try to change things so they can remain in power, we saw Donald Trump try to fix an election and incite riot to try and keep himself as president. We are currently watching a prime minister erode our rights so he can dictate to us and remain in power. This is dangerous and the road to fascism. God has clearly shown us that we are equal, that power must be kept in check and used for the good of all not just the rich and powerful. We must all respect each other no matter who we are or what we believe.

6th July 2022

Ezra 8:21 There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions.

We talk of going on a journey, in the car, on a plane, on a train, going on holiday or to do something. A special Christian journey is also called a pilgrimage, often undertaken together with others to make a spiritual journey and connection. Journeying often involves preparation, planning, mapping and knowing where it is you are going. Life is also often referred to as a journey, from beginning to end. On parts of that journey we travel with family, sometimes we travel alone and if we are Christians we travel always with God. When we leave on a journey we always pray for safety, for protection. The best way to journey is together, to have support, encouragement, help and company. In this verse they fast and pray for a safe journey, for all of them and all they have with them. On any journey there will be challenges, questions, obstacles, good days and bad days. Alone there is no one to pick up the slack, to keep us going but together we find a corporate strength, a camaraderie and God’s people being God’s presence to one another. The journey of life will have its good days and bad days, but we never travel alone as God is with us in every moment. We journey with one another, with God and with confidence that He will keep us safe.

5th July 2022

Hebrews 4:12 I have carried your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

How well do you know your Bible? How well can you explain your faith? In following our faith there is a lesson to be learned on travelling light from a knowledge perspective. We need to know what and why we believe. Know what the Bible says as we may not always have access to it. Richard Wurmbrand was a Christian imprisoned for his faith, mainly kept in solitary confinement because he would talk about God. He had nothing other than what was in his mind and his heart. Every day he would preach himself a sermon. No Bible or google, no congregation, nothing. Yet he knew his faith, his Bible, his belief, his God and could speak clearly about it. Can we? Do we know enough of our Bibles, our books, our teaching to manage without them if we needed to? Wurmbrand asked himself: Now the test had come. I was alone, would I continue to love Him?” Wurmbrand did continue to love God and God honoured that. We see time and again how well the followers of Jesus did with just Jesus, speaking about Him, speaking in God’s name; relying on what they knew. God forbid that we will never need to, but with things as they are and the erosion of our human rights and beliefs, huge erosion in a fair and just world, we need to know our faith in our hearts and minds, know who we believe in, why we believe and be able to share that freely with others.

4th July 2022

Luke 10:4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.

Most of will go on our first proper holiday since the pandemic this summer and the preparations will be in full swing. Clothes put aside, cases out, purchases made and lists written. Packing for one or two weeks, we need to consider the weather and we may or may not have luggage restrictions. In Luke 70 newly appointed followers are sent out by Jesus and are to take no purse or bag or sandals, that’s not just travelling light, that’s travelling with nothing at all. Not even with a 20p and hanky that cubs were encouraged to carry everywhere. These days we have our travelling necessities, must have a passport, medication, money and cards, and at least a spare pair of undies! It is true, we all pack too much, come back with unused clothes, but it’s a holiday, a special treat. The point here is about our dependence on God, not on ourselves or our world. We can all freely spout forth about God will provide, especially to the poor and those currently finding life a real struggle to buy food for their families etc. And as we tell others God will provide, we still want our salaries, pensions, pay increases; to pay the mortgage, to put food on the table, to heat and light our homes. The truth is the labourer does deserve to be paid, and to be paid fairly and properly. Equal pay, no differing rules for top fat cats and politicians. As the work is done, the correct and fair payment must be made. 

3rd July 2022

Habakkuk 3:19 The Sovereign Lord gives me strength. He makes me sure-footed as a deer to run up the hills and mountains.

It is both amazing and wonderful that the current number one single, Running up That Hill, is from my youth. The current popularity of Kate Bush reflects the teenagers of the late 70’ and 80’s who had her posters over their walls. Parents hated her, teens loved her because she was different, her music was ethereal and powerful, her vocals often gymnastic and haunting and she used interpretive dance. A current Netflix series has used this track to help a young person deal with isolation, grief and problems in their life, and has made this song a world-wide hit. A classic line and the sub title for the song is, if I only could, I’d make a deal with God. We all try to make those deals, if you do this for me God, I will give more to charity, I will go to church, I will pray, I will be a better person, and so it goes on. We try to arm twist God, the creator of the universe, into doing what we want, never mind anyone or anything else. God answers prayers, the evidence is around us time and again, but He answers with a knowledge of exactly how our prayers will affect everything and everyone else. Habakkuk tried to understand God’s ways and does a fairly good job but he also realises that in everything that happens God gives us strength to cope, to deal with situations and that He makes us sure footed to run up those hills, with no problem.

2nd July 2022

Mark 3:21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Sometimes even the best of families falls out. We can get so angry that we may even question the sanity of members of our families. It is easier to blame others than look at ourselves. We don’t know a huge amount of detail about Jesus family, mother Mary, dad Joseph and it seems some younger siblings. Here in Mark these siblings suggest Jesus is out of His mind, on top of this some of the scribes accuse Him of being possessed. Jesus reminds them all that calling God and His works evil will result in condemnation. Everyone has the chance to change their mind about God but without this change ultimately, we are condemned. If we cannot see good as good but rather call it evil, we cannot stand with God. Conflict with family is painful and difficult but we learn from this encounter that sometimes we might have to go against our family to be faithful to Jesus. Sometimes traditions and beliefs are not of God and we have to make a stand and sometimes that stand can mean a high price, a high cost to us. What does become clear is that our family extends, grows bigger when we become part of the family of God.

1st July 2022

Romans 15:4 Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience, perseverance and encouragement which the Scriptures give us.

Currently there is a rover named Perseverance on the Mars surface. Its job is to collect data, photos and samples, maybe return to earth one day. The rover got its name in a competition where a 14-year-old student explained that all previous rovers had names that reflected human qualities, he felt one of the most important qualities was missing, Perseverance. Humans can adapt to differing situations no matter how harsh. Humans who have set out to explore the earth and now space, overcoming huge setbacks on the way. Humans who have the capacity not to give up but somehow find a way. That is perseverance. If we can persevere in these explorations then we can persevere in our relationships, our daily lives. We are not perfect; we make mistakes and this can upset and hurt others. We need to stick at it, not give up. Our hope comes through patience, perseverance, and encouragement, through following the example of Jesus who persevered the worst of all things in order to help humans find their way back into relationship with God. If Jesus had given up, if God had given up this world would not exist. If goodness, compassion, care and love are lost because we give up then all the good will drain from our world and evil will prevail. In God’s strength we need to persevere, even when it seems impossible, even in the depths of despair may we never give up because God never gives up on us.

30th June 2022

Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for humans to be alone. I will make companions for them.”

Throughout our lives we make many journeys. From simple journeys to the shops, to long journeys across continents. We make journeys on our own and with others. Life itself is a journey from birth to death and then beyond. Journeys are much better, and more fulfilling when we make them with others. Journeying alone means never having anyone to share things with, to help us in difficult times, to encourage us when we are down. Life’s journey can be made with family, partners, friends and best of all with God. Each day, each situation, each obstacle, each path, each event all met with God’s help and strength. Dictionaries tell us that the word Journey means a set of experiences that someone has over a period of time, especially when they change the person in some way. Our Journey with God is a set of experiences that change us if we let them. Our journey is not meant to be a lonely one, but to be a journey together, supported, cared for, loved, encouraged and strengthened. God never intended for humans to be alone, that’s why he created a companion, someone to stand with, journey with and support us. May I encourage you to journey together, to be the companion and have the companionship God made for you and as you journey together, journey with God.

29th June 2022

Luke 8: 29 Many times evil had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demons into solitary places.

Imagine being so strong that you cannot be bound by chains or shackles because you can just break them. Imagine being so overcome that the real world no longer appears real to you. Imagine if the demons, real or metaphorical, had completely taken over your mind and no one could help. Jesus helps people just like this. The real demons even beg Jesus not to send them into the abyss. The abyss in Scripture is where Satan and demons live. Funny that the demons themselves did not want to go home. Even they did not want to go back to Satan. That says something. The demons are transferred into the swine which causes the pigs to act in a self-destructive way and run into the lake and drown. We need to realise that Demons, real or metaphorical, sin, evil, lies, fraud, manipulation, maltreatment all cause self-destruction. When the local people return they find the formerly possessed man, sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind. Jesus has changed him, healed him. Jesus has power over all demons be they real or metaphorical. But Jesus does not force anyone to accept Him. Neither must we. Here all Jesus requires of this man is that he tells his story. Tells what God has done for him. We may not have real demons that need dispatching but we all have parts of our lives that need healing and changing and Jesus willingly does that for us, asking only that we tell our story of His love for us, to others.

28th June 2022

1Timothy 5:1 Do not speak angrily to an older person but speak with them as if they were your parent, with respect.

In our world we have found ways of treating people appallingly because of their race, gender, skin colour, economic status, age, life choices etc. We have looked at another, envisaged a threat and then looked for ways to humiliate and destroy them. We remove their dignity by taking their name, their clothes, shaving their heads, shackling them, beating them, torturing them, removing their ability to attend to personal hygiene, locking them up and even sometimes murdering them. The holocaust is an example of when the dignity of a whole race was stripped away. The same for black people who spent centuries in slavery because of their skin colour. Women who have and still are oppressed. Out treatment of those with Aids when it was first discovered, the treatment of LGBTQ+ people world wide, persecuted and blamed. The considered norm, established by the rich and powerful, strips anyone who is different of their human rights and their dignity. All to maintain the status quo, all to put the blame on someone else so they can retain power. If you think things are better now, you only need to see the current Government policy on sending people to Rwanda. Populist leaders always pick on someone else to blame. In complete contrast the Bible is clear that we must treat everyone with dignity and respect. Be they young or old, male or female, black or white, rich or poor, everyone is worthy of dignity and respect. God shows us all dignity and respect, no exceptions, the least we can do is treat everyone with dignity and respect whoever they may be.

27th June 2022

Luke 9:48b For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.

It seems as everyone today wants their fifteen minutes of fame and inevitably that fifteen minutes is never enough. We have succumbed to the belief that once we are a celebrity, once we have money, once we have a better and bigger house and car, once we are the top dog and in a senior role all will better, all will just fall into place. Many of us set out with the strongest belief that power, money, celebrity will allow us to make the world better for everyone. The path to self-preservation is littered with good intentions. Once we have the money, the celebrity, the power we very quickly forget our aims and then begin to feel entitled and then we will do anything to maintain our current position or improve it. In doing so all our good intentions are lost and we begin to betray ourselves and others. In God’s kingdom true greatness comes from service, from care of the other, from looking after others and putting them first. From protecting the weak and vulnerable. True greatness before God is the opposite of the world view. It is hard to stand against the world view but that is exactly what we are called to do as Christians, in God’s strength.

26th June 2022

Luke 8:27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time, this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs.

We all meet new and different people on a regular basis. Some are very interesting, some lost, some hurt, some loud, some full of joy. Jesus met people from every possible background. On one occasion Jesus meets a man possessed with demons. This man has suffered for a long time at the hand of these demons. He had been taken away from his family. He wore no clothes because The demons had taken away his dignity and his name. He did not live in a house but in the tombs and contact with the dead rendered a Jew ceremonially unclean. The demons that possessed the man begged Jesus not to torment them because they had no power in Jesus’ presence. Jesus commanded the unclean spirits to come out of the man, and gave him his dignity, his name and his life back. We can have an impact on all the people we meet. We can treat everyone with dignity, we can make sure we always value people enough to learn, use and remember their name properly. We can see the need they may have and help them either ourselves or find someone who can. We can pray for everyone we meet and show God’s love by our treatment of them. Every person we meet is equally valuable and equally special. In God’s strength we must treat everyone we meet as Jesus would treat them.

25th June 2022

Luke 8:39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

How do you feel about sharing your faith? What if someone asks you a question you don’t know how to answer? What if you get into a “sticky” situation and you need to confront a major problem? What if someone brings up an “embarrassing” past, something we just don’t talk about in polite company? What if we or someone becomes angry? We all experienced similar emotions which make us feel inadequate in telling people about Jesus. It can be uncomfortable and push us well beyond our comfort zone. I also think that we make sharing our faith too hard at times. Yes, we need to share the Gospel. The Good News. But, not everyone has been so gifted as to be an evangelist. Our example is Jesus, he sees someone’s need and deals with it. Once he does this People just want to talk about Him and what he has done. If we help people, care for them, share in their needs and desires then we share Jesus’ love and people want to talk about that love and care and about what God can do. Be a friend, be a neighbour, help people, be kind, be you and just let Jesus share Himself through you.

24th June 2022

John 10:10b I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

There has always been a contradiction in the Christian faith, some believe in life in all it’s fullness while others believe that life is to be suffered and struggled with until we go to Heaven. I was given a phrase that summed this up, Life is steak on the plate while we wait, not pie in the sky when we die. I was recently at a seminar, the title led us to believe it was about life being lived to the full, actually it was completely against that. Someone was using a three-century old book to tell us we should not watch TV, not go on social media, give all our money to the church and the poor, not have anything that brings joy into our lives and spend out time suffering. No holidays, no attending concerts or football matches, nothing that is fun. This is very much the puritan ideal. The Bible has verses that do challenge our way of life, of course we need to live differently but these verses are outnumbered by those that speak of joy, living life to the full, a God of love who wants the best for us not just in heaven but very much while we live on earth. Needless to say, I and others left the seminar as when asked for our opinions they were just dismissed as wrong and we were treated with disrespect. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but everyone must also respect the opinion of others and listen with respect. I will always believe that God intends us to live life to the full here on Earth and not just wait for heaven.

23rd June 2022

Psalm 8:3&4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

I sometimes wonder what it was that drove the great explorers of the past to risk their lives to venture across rugged and inhospitable country? Willing to go into the unknown, to go where no one else had gone. These people wanted to know what was out there beyond what was known, waiting to be discovered. They wanted to find that land, the lake, the different people. Today with nearly all the world now discovered we have gone on to explore space. We want to reach other planets and solar systems and see if there is anyone else out there. Some of us seem to have the drive to want to conquer more and more mysteries. But there are some mysteries that will always be a mystery. God is one of them. We can’t physically touch Him, we can’t say how big He is because we don’t know what or how to measure that. If I wanted to take a photo of God I don’t know where to point the camera. I can’t knock on his door and have morning tea with God at his home. We can’t imagine what God is like because we always end up using human pictures, giving God human qualities so that He makes sense to our small human minds. We can’t think like God because if we could we would be able to understand why a young mother had to die, why thousands of people die in earthquakes, die of starvation, why some are severely disabled. Why so many died in the pandemic and are still dying. We are not God, we cannot understand God, we cannot understand why and what, but we can know God, know His love, know His care of us and know we are loved. God is a mystery we can believe in without understanding fully, because if we did then there would be no need for faith. 

22nd June 2022

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

We have recently experienced a heat wave. A few days of excessive heat, over 30 degrees, a muggy close atmosphere which has made life difficult, especially for the elderly and those with medical conditions. We do like to moan about the weather and it is never just right, always too hot, too cold, too wet, too foggy. We never seem to be content with what we are given. Let’s face it, we cannot control the weather, we cannot make it sunny or rainy, we cannot move the clouds away or lift the fog, it is all wrapped up in nature or creation and it is not in our control; as much we would desire it to be. Being content in life, in our family, in our achievements is important. We are reminded that we are so valuable to God, that the creatures of earth are taken care of by God and so will we. Not just taken care of but blessed abundantly. It has become to easy to always want more and not be content with what we have. We see our value in life by what we have, what we earn, what we own. Before God our value is not measured in these things. We have so much, may we learn some contentment and complain a lot less about all we have been freely given.

21st June 2022

Luke 8:8 The seed that fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.

In the Monty Python film The Life of Brian, they ask ….what did the Romans ever do for us? Of course, the list of the good things keeps increasing as the realisation dawns. Sometimes as Christians we ask What has God ever done for us? As we reflect on this, we begin to see just how much He has done for us. How God has changed our life? Those wrongs and issues we once had that we no longer carry because God has dealt with them. Just how different we have been made by Jesus’ love for us. The prayers God has answered, the weights on us that He has lifted. The strength given to us in difficult times. The comfort God offers in times of grief and the abundant provision when times are tough. Jesus has replaced our hopelessness with hope. We can share that hope and joy with others because we recognise just how much God has actually done for us. We need to understand that telling others what God has done for us, inviting someone to know God for themselves can have eternal consequences. Heaven and hell hang in the balance. But we don’t do this alone. Jesus says, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” We will never do this alone and the business of sharing Jesus with others is too serious for us not to do it. 

20th June 2022

1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

The older I become, the less my birthday matters to me. I would rather not be thinking about getting older and talking about my age makes me feel older physically. I also think that over the years birthdays have often been disappointing, people forget or don’t bother, the hints we drop are ignored and even buying a card gets lost in the business of everything. So, we decide that it is better not to bother, it’s less disappointing and upsetting. The important things in life often lose their joy or significance as time goes on and the same is true in our faith. Much of our vigour and enthusiasm for our faith in its early stages subsides over time, as we find stuff doesn’t happen as quickly as we want, we don’t get the results in mission we thought we might, we get disappointed and upset and the longer we are involved in something, the less special it becomes. The wonderful news that we need to hear and believe is that God’s love and enthusiasm for us never fades, never diminishes, never loses its enthusiasm and is as strong and endless as it ever was or ever will be. 

19th June 2022

Mark 4:8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.

I am not a gardener but I do understand how we get our grain from the soil. In the Bible one of the most well-known stories is a gardening one, the parable or story of the Sower. The message is clear, some folk will respond to the ways of God and some will not. People can be rigid; they can be shallow and they can be easily swayed and pulled away. It clearly explains to us why sharing the gospel is difficult and why we seem to see so few come to God. I have often wondered about the idea of some people being “good soil” and others bad. Are some of us more likely to become Christians because of our nature or nurture? Because there is such loss of seed this story can seem pretty miserable. If people are who they are and are the kind of people who aren’t interested in God or religion, is that just too bad for them? Should we assess people to see if they are more perceptive and only direct our effort there? One thing is very clear about God, He does not give up on anyone. He does not only love those who may be more likely to love Him back, He loves everyone no matter who they are. God is a divine gardener who will cultivate the soil of everyone, who will soften hard soil, enrich poor or shallow soil and remove the choking weeds. We are called to work with God, to share His good news with everyone and not to decide who we think is more likely to respond. We share His love with everyone, no matter who they are or how they react.

18th June 2022

2 Corinthians 1:13 For we communicate nothing else to you than what you can read and understand.

Our new car has a satnav built in. The problem I am finding is there is no go button. I have been used to putting in a location and then press go and it finds it. On this one I can’t seem to find how to make it go. Once I put in the post code it just whirrs around saying searching and nothing happens. I can’t find a button to tell it to find the route. I have accidently done it by pressing various on-screen buttons but cannot find a go or start button. I like things simple, tell something to start or go and it does it. No go button, no start button, what am I supposed to do? Perhaps there is another word for go or start but not that my knowledge of language suggests. I do wonder that the more we integrate into cars, phones, computers etc the less clear exactly what you have to do becomes. I often cannot close things on my computer because the close cross is off the screen. I sometimes can’t answer a call because the answer button is just not there. Perhaps I am a dinosaur in a digital age and just do not see things clearly. But I don’t think I am the whole problem. I think things have become too crowded, too much information which we cannot digest in the time we have. In life we need clear instructions, when to start and stop, clear ways to close things, clear information displayed obviously and well. God has always wanted us to understand, to be clear about His love for us and how He offers it to all of us. God never offers us things we cannot understand and is clear in His love for us. We don’t need a Satnav for God, just ears to hear and Bibles to read and listen to.

17th June 2022

Psalm 8:1 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

When children say wow or awesome, they have seen something wonderful, something that really challenges them. We don’t often talk about the mystery and awesomeness of God any more these days. We have tried to become more logical and scientific about God. We have tried to put God into a box we can cope with. We now tend to think about God as a bigger and more powerful version of ourselves. We have fashioned God after our own likeness. As humans, we can’t even begin to imagine what God is like. We are restricted to describing God within the limits of our understanding and so we can only express what God is like in the vaguest of terms. We have to accept the mystery of God, the only God who is far bigger and greater than we could ever imagine, who existed before this world was made, who doesn’t need us to exist but created us and loves us anyway. We know that God has revealed himself as a God who cares, a personal God who wants to have a relationship with his people. From the very first pages of the Bible, we hear of a God who is powerful and great, He creates the earth with just words. We also hear about a God who wants to be close to his people. He loves the people whom he made so much that he even sent his own Son into the world to save them from the wickedness that had taken over the world. This God, our God, majestic, awesome, eternal, powerful but also creator and the one who loves us conditionally. If that does not deserve a wow, then nothing does.

16th June 2022

Ephesians 1:17 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

Seeing with the eyes of our heart seems a strange idea. Our heart is an organ, inside the body. It pumps blood around and keeps us alive. The idea of seeing with it seems odd. Of course, we do talk about our heart linked to love, to hurt, heart or head ruling our decisions, so we have some notion of the heart as more than just an organ. The heart was and is considered central to our life and can be linked to our compassion, to feelings of empathy and love. Seeing with the eyes of our heart is seeing as God sees. Not seeing something for its use to us, or its value in our collection, or even its beauty as qualified by humankind. Instead, it is seeing things as God made them, seeing people as important, loved, valued in their own right. God’s love for all people is unconditional as ours should be. We should not look at people for what they can give us, or whether we like them or not, what religion or culture they are from, but see each as created equally and loved unconditionally by God. Seeing with the eyes of the heart looks past blemishes and imperfections, it looks past monetary value or selfish gain, it looks beyond what we can get out of someone or something and looks with love, compassion and empathy to the intrinsic, God given, beauty and creation. We are all valued and loved by God for who we are, when we see others in that way, God’s way, we are seeing with the eyes of our Heart.

Apologies for 15th not being available.

14th June 2022

2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a Spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Recently we celebrated Pentecost, the pouring of the Holy Spirit on his disciples and the church. Jesus said that He and the Father would send the Spirit to remind us of the truth of God's promises, to guide us, to encourage us and sustain us when the going gets tough. There is nothing more personal than the Spirit of God. It was once suggested to me that the Holy Spirit was a bit like having a conjoined twin. Affectively two live as one, joined in major organs, depending on each for life. We need the Spirit to live, we depend on the Spirit for so much of our life, energy and strength. Once we sever that link with the Spirit, we are no longer at one with God, we are no longer strong and in touch. We become weakened and lose faith. Having God close to us, closer than a brother, we are told, is necessary for faith, for mission, for knowledge and understanding. Having the Spirit is not an optional extra but a necessary basic, crucial part of our life of faith. It is He who reminds us of our teaching, of God’s word, of Jesus love and death for us, of God’s creation of us. It is the Spirit who acts as advocate, comforter, power provider, strengthener and keeps us in God’s ways. 

13th June 2022

John 16:15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me that He will make known to you.

Each year we celebrate the Trinity, on Trinity Sunday. It is a theological doctrine basic to the Christian faith. The early Christians started talking about a Triune God. Not to make God more logical and understandable to human ways of thinking. In fact, the idea of the Trinity intensified the mystery of God. They clearly saw and experienced a Jesus who had a unique relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. They saw and experienced that the Holy Spirit had a unique relationship with the Father and the Son. Against all the odds and opposition, the Church maintained that Jesus Christ is true God, equal with the Father, and that the Holy Spirit is God, equal with the Father and the Son, each with a role to play and each interdependent on the other. The doctrine of the Trinity is not an attempt by the church to unravel the mystery around God. In fact, it deepens the mystery. It doesn’t tell us everything about what God is and who he is. In fact, it raises more questions than it gives. But it does tell us some important things about God, things that are life changing; God is our heavenly Father who made us, takes cares of us and calls us His dear children. God is Jesus Christ who gave His life on the cross to re-establish our relationship with God and reveals the way to God and to eternal life. God is the Holy Spirit in us giving us faith in God and guiding us in our daily walk as a Christian.

12th June 2022

Titus 3:4 But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour was revealed,  He saved us.

I came across a homeless person recently whose sign said “Seeking Human Kindness”. He was admitting in that statement that he knew he was dependent on people’s kindness but also challenging anyone who walked past without even acknowledging him was not showing human kindness. So much of our lives are about doing for what we can get back. It is no longer kindness that prompts us but rather what we can gain from a situation. If a camera was near by recording all who gave to this man you can guarantee they would be queuing up to drop large notes into his box as visibly as possible so they can be seen to be doing good, but it is all for show. Real kindness happens quietly, without a fuss, without desire for gain. Organisations like The Salvation Army help anyone in need without expecting anything in return. The foodbanks offer help and support to needy people and families and expect nothing in return. God offers to us a freely given love, kindness and compassion, not for what He can get out of it but because He loves us unconditionally, no if’s or but’s. We are all seeking human kindness, we all have that kindness within us it is just that some of us have become so self-absorbed and self-centred that we have lost sight of kindness as something to be treasured and freely given to everyone we meet.

11th June 2022

John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

In order to give and keep on giving, to be consistent, to be honest and truthful, to serve the common good, we also need to receive, to replenishment; as we give, we need to be refilled. This refilling is often referred to as the well of faith from which we draw or the fountain of faith which pours into and onto us. We need to draw deeply from this well and be soaked in this fountain to replenish us, so we cannot only keep going, but do so with strength and energy. God doesn’t just want us to cope and survive but to live a full life, a life of rich, powerful faith. The Holy Spirit is that well and that fountain that keeps refilling us, replenishing us if we draw from Him. At Pentecost we remember and celebrate the coming of The Holy Spirit, but He did not just come once and that was it, no, the coming of the Holy Spirit is ongoing, on filling, a well, a fountain, overflowing and spilling out to refresh us and enable us to do what God calls on us to do. As with everything of God He will not force us. The Spirit is ours if we want to receive Him, freely offered and freely given to enable us to live our best life.

10th June 2022

John 14:12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.

Can you imagine greater works than those of Jesus? Difficult and yet we are told we will see them and be part of them. Love and service for the common good of all are these greater works. Offering our self in service, staying the course, being faithful, showing love and service. These things matter. Our treatment of the other, seeing others above ourselves, is part of our mission as Christians. In doing these greater works the other part of mission follows. We are able to share Jesus’ love with others through our behaviour, our care, our service, we point others to Christ. This service, this sharing of love, this being faithful to our calling, is not easy. So, God provides us with the help and strength we need. As Jesus returns to the Father to pray for us, He sends the Holy Spirit. The Spirit that was there at Creation, the Spirit which allows our faith to become global. Our Power Source, our strength, our encourager, our comforter, our advocate comes upon us and enables us to do the necessary service, to show the Father to the world, to do His works, to show His love and to set an example for others to follow and find Jesus. 

9th June 2022

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We are living in a time of uncertainty and challenge. Things are happening that we did not think could or would happen again. A war in Europe, cost of living crisis, more and more children and adults now living in poverty, people in public life being openly dishonest and not being challenged for doing it. We need change, we need refreshing, we need strength and help, we need power and understanding, all these come from God, given freely to us through the Holy Spirit, we only have to be open, to ask and to receive. The Platinum Jubilee has reminded us of a monarch who took an oath to serve justly and mercifully. Who has spoken openly of service which demands sacrifice. As we serve God and pray for change and offer ourselves to be part of that change, we too will have to make sacrifices. Each of us has a personal accountability before God. Each of us will have to answer for our actions, our service or lack of it, our faithfulness or lack of it, our care of all or lack of it. Jesus is our true and first example of this, after that come others of faith who we can be encouraged by, and you and I, we are also people of faith that others can be encouraged by. Our faith, our service enabled through the Holy Spirit, our example in Christ is our mission to others. Our standing for our faith through the Strength given day after day by the ever-replenishing, overflowing Holy Spirit. 

8th June 2022

Acts 17:23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So, you are ignorant of the very thing you worship, and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

If I asked you what were the gods of current society, I wonder what you would say? Money, fame, power, celebrity status? The things people currently worship are things which they see as enabling them to rise to the top. Humans have always worshipped something, usually for their own protection, to provide rain or sun, crops, food, blessing of some kind. Even in our history we can see those who worshipped multiple Gods of differing traditions in order to hedge their bets about who might provide what they wanted. In Roman and Greek societies there were lots of gods, for different things, and people worshipped as they had need. So much choice was there that they even had altars to the unknown God, just in case they had missed someone out. St Paul meets this in the Athens as he preaches Jesus, and calls them religious because they have so many gods. He uses this to speak about the true God, the one God, the creator. This place of discussion wanted to hear about this God and some came to believe. As we see so many worship at the feet of money, celebrity, power, as we hear about those who are “spiritual” but not religious, as we watch people fight for a more certain future and then find it never fulfils, we are in the position to proclaim God, creator, the one true God and to proclaim Christ, saviour and Lord. We can share what we know with others and challenge them to find a real and lasting future in God. 

7th June 2022

2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’
Our society tends to look upon weakness critically. We see any vulnerability as a reason to shun people, ignore them and actually often discount them. The way we treat the disabled, the elderly, the child, the sick shows we only rate strength; strength and power as it is dictated by those who rule. Not showing weakness is a key part of many societies and has led to much pressure on ordinary people to somehow be superhuman. We all know that challenges will come our way, most of us do not have money and influence to throw at dealing with them and so often we will just not be able to cope. In contrast God offers us His grace, His strength, His power so that even in our weakness we are able to overcome, to stand firm. In all that we face and go through, however difficult and painful, His grace is sufficient to see us through. Our feelings of weakness give us an opportunity to trust Him. As we trust in Him, we discover that He is all we need. It may seem the complete opposite to what we expect or to what we are taught, but it is in our weakness, when we are not self-sufficient and arrogant about our own abilities that God can and will work.  

6th June 2022

Psalm 136:25 He gives food to every living creature. His love endures forever.

Throughout life I have often been amazed and blessed by the power of food, home cooked meals, simple provisions but given in love. As a teenager our youth group would bring and share food each Sunday afternoon and it was wonderful, often after church we would go round someone’s house with a couple of loaves of bread and eat toast. In youth groups I have run since that time I have always had food available, toast, jam, peanut butter, biscuits, muffins and so on. We even went through a phase of everyone wanting noodles. Just that simple sharing of food has always given a community, a care for each as we come together and ultimately it simply says we care, we love you and that means physically as well as Spiritually and Mentally. Food is currently even more expensive, children are suffering, so many more now in food poverty. Basic food given to everyone says we care. The work of foodbanks has increased massively but also donations are down because everyone is struggling more. Enabling people to eat is a basic, no one should be unable to feed their family, no child should go hungry any day and yet they do. Food is given out of love for the other, God has given food for all out of His love for us, may we do whatever we can to share that with anyone and everyone whoever they may be.

5th June 2022

Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Have you ever really looked at a pound coin? When you do, you will find Elizabeth II by Grace of God, Queen, defender of the faith, written on it. It is written Latin but that is what it means. Today we celebrate her 70 years as our Queen, who by the grace of God, defends our faith. She has said that Jesus Christ is the inspiration and anchor in her life. She has spoken of Jesus as a role model of reconciliation and forgiveness who stretched out His hands in love, acceptance and healing and that Christ’s example has taught her to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none. The Queen is not quiet about her Faith. Earlier this week David Suchet was asked if it was wise for the queen to be so out spoken about her faith, he replied yes because the basic message of Christianity is love, and she leads with love and brings us all together. Much has been said and seen about her loyalty, her service and how we can see God through her example. What about you and I, are we an example for others to see Jesus? Are we faithful to our vocation and calling, do we clearly speak out about our faith? Do we allow our God light to shine out and bring glory to Him? I hope and pray that we will.

4th June 2022

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Currently we are rewiring my husbands home office. We are attempting to make it more energy efficient and easy to switch things on and off. Being a Tech lover there is a lot of equipment and a lot of wiring. The room has had to be emptied, current wiring sorted out and a collapsed bookcase removed. Several boxes of books have been moved and things we thought we had lost been discovered. It has been a hard day so far and there is more to come in the next few days. This work is time consuming but it will be worth it. Now it seems endless, in the end it will be beneficial. This is very much like our daily life, things need rewiring, sorting, and broken things removed. When we begin to clean ourselves out, we discover things we had forgotten, we are reminded of how much clutter we have allowed to build up and although at the time it feels endless and seems time consuming, in the end it will be beneficial, it will be worth it. Sometime we need a clear out, we need a good rewire to become more efficient, it may seem hard but it is worth it. As we ask God to clean our hearts and renew us, may we be willing to experience the uncomfortable so as to become better and more efficient.

3rd June 2022

Micah 6:8 What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

The current situation with migrants and the cruel misinformation used to whip up hysteria against them is a blot on our country, it’s press and its politicians. The Bible and Jesus teaching is so clear on this issue, far clearer than on other things, and yet we seem to ignore what we are clearly told. Our attitude to the other, the migrant, the refugee, the poor, the suffering, the sick, the wrongly accused should be as that of Jesus who served them, healed them, cared for them, gave to them, loved them and never turned them away. This is our calling, how can we call ourselves followers of Christ and then refuse to help the poor, refuse to house the refugee, turn away the migrant, place children into poverty, push more and more people to use foodbanks. These challenges face us every day and we have a choice, we can see the right way, God’s way, we can know what we should do, the Spirit will prompt us, Jesus will pray for us, we make a choice. Every time we turn a blind eye, every time we justify the poor treatment of others, the loss of rights, every time we support those who benefit themselves, we are not doing God’s will. We are not working for the good of all, we are not fulfilling our calling to be holy, our calling to do what God requires of us.

2nd June 2022

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus said to them, “With humans’ things are impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

When we pray the language we use is both certain and conditional. When we pray, we can be certain that God will do what is right and best because He sees eternally, His vision is eternal, whereas our vision is mortal and so very restricted. God sees the bigger picture and Jesus shows us that although the best and most effective way for the world’s Christians to live would be in unity, God will not force us into this. We are always given a choice and often we do not choose to work with others. Let’s face it, some of those who have led us in History, and even today, have taken great pains to redefine faith to suit their own ideas, to preserve their position. Time and again the Bible shows those with power will take advantage of those below them. There are always those who will blatantly use others to get what they want, that which benefits them. When God’s people step in and step up to stop this happening, these leaders will abuse, complain and try everything to punish and remove anyone working for the good of all. Sounds familiar doesn’t it. It goes on every day, around us but that is not the right way, that is not God’s way. God will always do what is right for all, but this right way coming to fruition can be conditional on how we behave, how we play our part, whether we are willing to step in and step up in Jesus’ name.

1st June 2022

John 17:20b &21a I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.

When you pray what do you pray for? How do you pray? Often, we pray lists of requests, sometimes for the healing and blessing of others. Jesus’ prayers were often about how to pray and prayers for His disciples and followers. Not long before His arrest and crucifixion He prays what is called the High Priestly prayer. Some have also suggested this prayer is like a living will. Jesus intercedes for the church before His father, the very role He is going to take when he ascends to Heaven. The role He now plays for us at God’s side, interceding on our behalf, praying for us. His prayer is about the unity of His followers, the unity of the church. Jesus the High Priest, part of this role is to intercede on behalf of others. In the OT the priests offered sacrifices, in the temple, on behalf of the people. Our priest, mediator and sacrifice, the Lamb of God, prays for us, for our glory, for our unity and for our blessing. This is a good example for us of how to pray. To pray for others, for unity, for their glory and blessing. 

31st May 2022

2Chronicles 2:6a But who is able to build a house for Him, for the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain Him?

Covid has revealed to us many negative things, but it has also shown us that Jesus and His kingdom is not confined to a church building. As we could not meet together in person, we found Jesus in neighbours delivering food, over computer screens, on the phone, through letters and cards, on walks for exercise, in music we listened to, books we read and in silence, gardens and homes. Jesus was right in Hospitals, on iPad screens and phones as people suffered and sometimes died. Jesus was with us wherever we were. At all times and in all places as the BCP puts it. As Jesus worked in all places, we were reminded God is not Cathedral bound, not church building bound. We were reminded that where two or three are gathered, Jesus is right there, where food is eaten, bread blessed and eaten Jesus was and is right there. As we have returned to our buildings, Jesus has not left the communities, He is still there as well as in the church. I thank God that we have rediscovered His presence in every part of life, that church buildings are not just where we meet Jesus, where we worship God, but that God is everywhere. We serve, worship, bless and are blessed in every corner of our life, wherever we are, in whatever we do.

30th May 2022

John 17:18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.

Sometimes I get asked why we need to be saved? Also, once we are saved what difference does that make to our life on Earth? My simple answer is that humans are saved to live their lives for God. This means striving to live a good Holy life to the best of our ability. We are called, as Christians to be Holy through the word Jesus, the Bible and the Holy Spirit in us. Let’s be completely honest, living a good life is a struggle. We are human and we get things wrong. When we do get things wrong, we must take responsibility for our wrongdoing. Be honest, some of us can be very opinionated, make decisions that get forced on others and we are all aware of decisions made in church history which have caused upset, pain, discrimination and abuse. Things which have been done in the name of God which instead of promoting unity actually promote division. This is not what Jesus came to save us for. We live on a daily basis; we face that battle of good versus evil. It is our faith that enables us to make better decisions, our prayers, the Holy Spirit in us; these help us in daily living while we strive here on Earth to live our best life for God, working always to do what is right.

29th May 2022

Psalm 18:28 For You light my lamp; The Lord my God illumines my darkness.

A recent conversation with someone reminded me of the expression “darkest hour”. There are many phrases which use this expression such as the darkest hour being just before dawn, or Britain’s darkest hour in the second world war. That darkest hour is the point at which we feel we have hit rock bottom, there is nowhere further we can go but we cannot see a way out either. We use the term dark to reiterate the loneliness, the lostness, the not being able to find our way because things are seemingly so bad. I like to think that nothing can ever get that bad and yet my experiences with people show me that it can. Sometimes the darkness is so overwhelming, so invading, so encompassing that we can see no way out. Time and again God tells us that He is the light in the darkness, that He will illumine the darkness, that He will always be the light in the darkness. Sometimes the dark seems impenetrable but there is always a glimmer of light, a way forward and God is always there, we are never alone.

28th May 2022

Mark 3:25 If a family divides itself into groups which fight each other, that family will fall apart.

Sometimes our families make us feel unhappy, even betrayed. They oppose a choice we make or a profession we chose. In our struggle to do what is best for those we love our judgement can be clouded. Jesus faced opposition from his family. They even seem to suggest He has serious mental health issues and almost seemed to agree with the scribes that he was 'possessed’. Jesus response is that if someone curses the Holy Spirit; by deliberately calling what God is doing evil; they cannot find forgiveness. Continuing to believe that good is evil inevitably puts people outside the will of God. This did not mean Jesus' family could not be forgiven, many people who were originally hostile to Jesus changed their minds about him and became disciples. There is always room for forgiveness when we recognise our sin. Jesus' conflict with his family must have been painful. But we can learn from this. Firstly, we occasionally might need to go against what our families and our communities believe and value to be faithful to Jesus. In some cultures, this is much harder than it is in the West, and we should be aware of this. Secondly, when Jesus says that 'whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother' (verse 35) far from excluding his family, he is extending it. Bringing in the outcast and the excluded, drawing the boundaries of God’s family ever wider.

26th May 2022

Revelation 21:5a The One who was sitting on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new!”

We often wish that God would make the messages we’re meant to hear a bit more obvious, louder, clearer, write it across the sky, put up spot lights, spell it out in jet lines across the sky, even a few fireworks, Lord. Working out what God is saying can be difficult, unclear. But sometimes in the Bible it could not be clearer. God says exactly what He means and we still don’t get it. He says to us; a new commandment, a new heaven and a new earth. a new all-encompassing removal of distinctions between what is holy and what is wicked and evil, a new removal of the peculiarities we use to decide who’s in and who’s out. New stuff, new things are lovely, fresh, without blemish but new can be scary and challenging. New can quickly upset our deeply held beliefs and precious traditions. If this new is right then has what I have been doing all this time wrong? Our deeply held beliefs come from our upbringing, our learning, our family and we assume they are correct, but sometimes as society changes, things happen, people betray our trust, we begin to see that God’s new is necessary because we never get it all right. God is perfect, we are not. God’s ways are not subject to the influences of money, power, gender and colour. God wants to renew us, renew our faith and belief, renew our understanding, it is up to us whether we are prepared to see, listen and change or hang onto our safe and not always good traditions and ideas.

25th May 2022

Acts 9:3&4 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Most of us have an event or events in our lives which make us stop and think, revaluate life and make changes. These experiences are often called a 'Damascus Road experience’ after the complete change that happened to Paul on this road. Aggressively opposed to the gospel of Jesus, Paul, Saul as he was then, meets the God and Jesus Christ, realising how very wrong he has been. The effect on Paul is immense, physical blindness to echo his thus far spiritual blindness. He fasts for several days. He cannot function and seems lost until a brave follower of Jesus steps in. This type of conversion is unusual and rare. Paul does not suddenly start believing in God in an instant, he begins to believe in Jesus, his physical and spiritual eyes are opened to a new way of living and as he learns and grows his life changes completely. As Saul he never expected what happened on the Damascus Road and we just assume that each day is much as the next and that our lives are in control. Sometimes God breaks in and does something completely different, turns our lives around, and we are more often than not, ill prepared for this huge life change. God will work, the question is whether we are willing to be changed in whatever way God choses for us.

24th May 2022

Psalm 34:17 The Lord hears good people when they cry out to him, and he saves them from all their troubles.

This psalm says that God sees the good people, hears prayers, gets close to the hurting and helps the crushed. God promises to be right there and yet I hear people say, “not in my experience”. So my reply is always, who sent the friend, the family member to help? Who sent that message, who provided that job, finance, help? These are what I call Godincidences, we tend to call the coincidences because then we don’t have to explain them or admit what lies behind them. Yet time and time again God steps in, through someone or something, often quietly without fanfare or fuss and then we just shrug it off as a coincidence. A famous poem by Helen Steiner Rice says God has not promised skies always blue, sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace w