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  • Harbingers of Spring

    Today is a beautifully sunny day, but for various reasons I've only managed about 4 miles walking this afternoon.  Not to worry, the route I took - partly around the grounds of Gartnaval Hospitals - was brimming with beauty, from birds to buds, all of which seemed to herald spring in some small way.

    As January draws to its end, there is a growing and palpable sense of ennui.  People seem to be running out of conversation, there really isn't much to chat about, at least not that is life-giving, it seems.  But nature continues to be hopeful and hope-filled.  The hours of daylight increase.  The trees put forth buds and the buds even being to burst into catkins or other signs of new growth.  And tenaciously poking through the leaf-mould and overgrown grass, green shoots reach for the sun as bulbs wake from sleep, promising snowdrops, croci and daffodils in due course.

    So, a short walk, but a joyful one.


  • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

    For almost half a century, I have been involved in WPCU services and initiatives.  From neighbourhood visiting in the 1970s, to shared Bible studies in the 1980s, to joint services and pulipt swaps in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.  Sometimes it all feels a bit tired, but I am grateful for the World Council of Churches, CTBI, CTE and ACTS who do their bit to fan the flickering ember.

    Here is a prayer for this year.


    This opening Litany of Praise is from the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021 taken from the ecumenical service published by CTBI prepared by the The Monastic Community of Grandchamp. Switzerland. 

    Congregation: You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!
    Reader 1: We sing your praise in the midst of the world and among all peoples,
    Reader 2: We sing your praise in the midst of creation and among all creatures.
    Congregation: You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!
    Reader 1: We sing your praise among suffering and tears,
    Reader 2: We sing your praise among promises and achievements.
    Congregation: You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!
    Reader 1: We sing your praise in the places of conflict and misunderstanding;
    Reader 2: We sing your praise in the places of encounter and reconciliation.
    Congregation: You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!
    Reader 1: We sing your praise in the midst of rifts and divisions,
    Reader 2: We sing your praise in the midst of life and death, the birth of a new heaven and a new earth.
    Congregation: You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!


  • The Hill We Climb...

    I'm not really one for watching state ceremonies, but I did watch part of the Presidential Inauguration yesterday - the speech, the poem and the benediction.

    The speech was no less than I would have hoped for, calm , measured, and future-focused.  The mood was, for me anyway,  as important as the message.

    The benediction was really intercession, but that's probably down to me being a liturgical pendant, and whilst stylistically it wasn't my thing, these were sincere and hopeful prayers.

    It was poem that for me, and for many, was the most striking.  Poetry seems to have changed form significantly in recent year to become more 'spoken word', more poetic-prose, with little or no rhyme, and the rhythm, such as it is, arises in the delivery rather than the any inherent pattern of syllable and stress.  In recent years, I have come to admire and value this poetic style, with its pithy, punchy observations and fearless responses to complex matters.

    Amanda Gorman really delivered! A woman whose words were profound, powerful and prophetic.  And which can be read in full here

    I have a suspicion that a lot of preachers this Sunday will look across the ocean and reflect on these words of others.  It's understandable, but it's not what I'll be doing.  For me, the words don't need my comment, my interpretation, my ham-fisted endeavour to reinterpret or reapply them to this context.  They stand alone and draw the reader or hearer to their own, private and personal response.

    I hope and pray that the hopes and prayers expressed yesterday are indeed worked out in the months and years ahead.  And I hope and pray that the truths expressed will be embraced and enacted wherever they are heard.

  • It's church, if not as we know it!

    This photo was sent to me from a member of our church, and was taken during last Sunday's service.

    Sophie (cat) likes to join in with church, often walking across right in front of me just as I'm about to speak.  On Sunday she came and sat next to me, to the delight of many  (and possibly the dismay of others, though everyone is far too polite to say so).

    Some visitors were impressed by the 'virtual background' which isn't virtual at all, every Sunday morning I hang up a selection of fabric, stack up some hymn books and create a 'set' for worship. To be fair, part of the reason they thought it was virtual was that Sophie was sat right in front of the lighted candle and I didn't appear concerned.

    Church has certainly changed these past months - when the day comes that we meet 'in person' it will be very odd not having a purring cat by my side!

  • Snowy Morning...

    This morning was my first 'early' walk for a while - whilst it has been icy I have been waiting until it is light before venturing out. 

    However, perhaps because I am a winter baby and was born in the 1962-63 winter, I do like walking in snow, so when I woke up to freshly fallen snow (just a sprinkling to be fair) I togged up and headed out.

    This photo is of Bingham's Pond looking towards Gartnaval Hospital at about 7:30 I guess.  The pond is mostly frozen, and snow has settled on the ice, yet there is a shiny patch of water where ducks and swans can still swim and feed.

    As we enter a tighter lockdown, and are reminded that we should be following the spirit, not just the letter, of the law, I think early morning walks are back on the agenda, if only as a way of avoiding crowds.

    Wherever you are, whatever your rules, stay safe, and enjoy such beauty as may be found, whether by getting outside or by looking out of the window.