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  • Churches Together - Evensong

    Last night, I attended Choral Evensong at the Church of St Michael, a very high Anglo-Catholic church.  Outside it's a fairly typical Victorian building, but inside it is incredible ornate, as illustrated in this photo looking towards the altar.

    Using the BCP in its most catholic form, complete with 'hail Mary' and King James Bible, in a parish under the special episcopacy of the Bishop of Beverly (it does not recognise women Bishops (hence women priests)) it could have felt unwelcoming, but it was anything but., evening ending with 'Shine, Jesus, Shine' and a priest who was not offended when the solemnity was shattered by clapping from various low church folk.

    Ecumenism can be bland, can be boring and can be nominal.  This didn't feel like any of those.  It was good to be with people who understand their faith very differently, yet are committed to working together where and when they can.

    I think the next joint service is for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - and I get to preach, something I now look forward to.

  • A Day of New Beginnings

    All the songs and hymns we used yesterday were, in some way or other, important to me.  Among them, this, which was chosen by The Gathering Place for my induction 14 years ago (they chose the majority of the music themselves), and which felt appropriate for yesterday...

    This is a day of new beginnings,
    time to remember, and move on,
    time to believe what love is bringing,
    laying to rest the pain that's gone.

    For by the life and death of Jesus,
    love's mighty Spirit, now as then,
    can make for us a world of difference
    as faith and hope are born again.

    Then let us, with the Spirit's daring,
    step from the past, and leave behind
    our disappointment, guilt and grieving,
    seeking new paths, and sure to find.

    Christ is alive, and goes before us
    to show and share what love can do.
    This is a day of new beginnings;
    our God is making all things new.

    Brian Wren  © 1983, 1987 Stainer & Bell Ltd


  • Duly Inducted!

    Yesterday was the/my Induction Service, which was both great fun and very meaningful.

    We made solemn promises - and we also made a model of a church out of building blocks!

    We listened to a wonderful sermon - and we shared a sumptuous tea!

    We shared stories and songs, made memories and captured moments.

    This photo is of the ten ordained Baptist women present for the service - eight BUGB and two BUS.  Between us we must add to around 200 years of service in this capacity.  I love this colourful and vibrant photo (in which you can also see the wooden block church model!)

  • Retreat at Home

    Today I opted for a quiet day, a 'retreat at home', to prepare myself mentally and spiritually for tomorrows induction service.

    I spent the morning reading, reflecting, doodling and making Plasticine roses (I didn't realise it when I started, but roses were to prove a bit of a theme during the day),

    In the afternoon I went for a thoughtful walk, and picked up a few odds and ends that I still needed.

    One of the things I used to pray, was this by Bonhoeffer, which I happened to spot on social media as I was setting up...

    I Cannot Do This Alone

    O God, early in the morning I cry to you.

    Help me to pray

    And to concentrate my thoughts on you;

    I cannot do this alone.

    In me there is darkness,

    But with you there is light;

    I am lonely, but you do not leave me;

    I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;

    I am restless, but with you there is peace.

    In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;

    I do not understand your ways,

    But you know the way for me….

    Restore me to liberty,

    And enable me to live now

    That I may answer before you and before men.

    Lord whatever this day may bring,

    Your name be praised.



    I think it's a good prayer to revisit now and again.

    Looking forward to tomorrow - photos and reports to follow!

  • Seven More Years...

    This photo showed up in my 'memories' on social media today.  I took it exactly seven years ago, just a few weeks before the Gatherers moved out of the building for 'two years'. At the time I had been at the church for seven years... so it all feels a bit 'Biblical' with seven years and seven years more, not least as I am now roughly seven years off retirement age... 

    The best laid plans, and all that... I remember, like yesterday, the first time I set foot in the Gathering Place, the day we closed the door after the last service, and, indeed, the day I handed over the keys to the developer. 

    Seven years in a building, seven years without a building... all were, on the whole, 'good years' with much to celebrate.

    This weekend, as I am formally inducted to my new roles, which could be as much as seven years. I do so grateful for the 14 years in the Gathering place, and for the 6 years in Dibley that went before them.

    For all that has been 'thanks', for what is still to come, 'yes'