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  • More Graduation Pics...

    A couple more images of me prancing about in a gown...

    DSCN4531.JPGThis one shows something of the vibrant colours on the hood - fully lined with purple, edged in gold, and the cape edged in maroon.  I reckon it's a pretty fine hood!








    This one is in the quad behind the Whitworth Hall, the streaks are snow falling rapidly and giving an interesting dappled effect to my outfit!









    This one is me with Graham Sparkes, former head of BUGB Faith and Unity, now head of the Partnership for Theological Education, Manchester

    Phots (c) GW

  • Holly's Carols

    OK, so I am stark staring bonkers, you knew that, but this morning I found myself singing to the cat a new song specially for Christmas...

    Oh, Holly Cat, all other mogs excelling...

    Other suggestions welcome as our repetoire needs to be extended!



    Due to comments doing their usual thing (they seem to work with single pargraph replies more often than any other format)

    How about

    Silent cat, Holly cat
    Always calm, always bright...

    Perhaps not factually accurate (I don't know Holly cat in person), but lack of accuracy was never a hindrance to Victorian carol writers.

    Silent?  Holly? Not at night!  Actually she's far better these days and usually allows me at least a few hours of sleep
  • Fourth Week in Advent: Tuesday

    Today's verses:

    Psalm 42:8

    Song of Songs 7:10 - 13

    Philippians 4:12

    Well there's the erotic love of S of S as clearly expressed as ever... lots of innuendo at the very least, so I'll not bother pursuing that one.  The psalm speaks quite clearly of God's love, whilst the Philippians verse refers to contentedness.  The psalm extract is lovely... God's love by day, God's singing by night... but it is to the Philippians that I will turn, everso briefly:

    I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

    What is it that enables a perosn to be content during times of hardship?  How can someone rise above being hungry or cold or unwell or whatever physcial, emotional or other hardship they face?  I have a feeling the answer is 'love'.  If we know we are loved, does anything else actually matter so much?

    When we were children, money was often in short supply, but we never went short of anything we needed, and we always knew we we loved.  No, we didn't get the holidays or consumer goods that some of our friends had; yes there were sometimes disappointments (and I'm sure my parents were every bit as disappointed as we were, if not more so) but there was always love.

    In the Christmas cards I've received this year have been lots of kind messages from friends, some of whom have been moved by the events of the last year and a bit, and the way they have seen my response (never quite sure who this paragon is, but I'll go with it for now...).  Perhaps it is because I am loved that I am able to love; perhpas it because I am loved that I can be content in whatever situation I find myself?  Contentedness is not happiness and neithe ris it fatalism; it is something akin to joy.  Given that love, joy, peace and hope are all parts of the fruit (singular) of the Spirt, small wonder they overlap and intertwine.

    In sunshine and showers

    Height and depth

    In laughter and tears

    Life and death

    In good times and bad times

    Health and pain

    God's love,

    God's love.


    In fullness or emptiness

    Poverty or wealth

    In working and resting

    Empty or full

    In all times and everywhere

    Boundless and free:

    God's love,

    God's love

  • Fourth Week in Advent: Monday

    Advance posted from Sunday evening - other things to occupy me today!

    The Northumbria Community readings:

    Psalm 139:23 - 24

    Proverbs 15: 16 - 17

    1 Corinthians 13: 1 - 3

    Now, it's hardly rocket science or even a theology degree to recognise that 1 Corinthians 13 is the great Pauline hymn to love, so I'm going to opt for the Proverbs reading because it is so much less overworked:

    Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.

    I guess it is appropriate to remind ourselves that 'fear of the Lord' means deep respect for' not 'abject terror of the Lord' but it is really the second sentence that strikes me - better a simple meal shared in loving company than a banquet marred by hatred, bitterness, anger, resentment, etc.  The approach of Christmas will see many Britons eating the equivalent of fattened calves, sadly, all too often, in tense and stressful company, where tempers flare, hasty words are spoken and intemperate actions cause harm. Better a cup of instant soup with love and laughter than that!

    Two quick thoughts.

    Today I am not posting because I am busy preparing food for my celebration birthday dinner, to which I have invited many guests.  The truth is, I am pretty sure they'd all turn up for something far less elaborate than I have planned and that we'd have a good time, because they are all people who love as a way of being.

    Secondly, over Christmas we will have many and varied people passing through church and eating meals we have prepared.  Some of these people have very challenging lives, know little love and may live in ways that we wonder or worry about.  But the amazing thing is this: every time I mention the Christmas Day dinner to even the most hard-nosed avowed atheist, their eyes become a little dewy because they detect a hint of love lived out through us.

    Beans on toast

    Shared with one who loves me

    Far better than

    Banquets, and toasts

    To people who invite from obligation...

    A sandwich

    And a smile

    More satisfying than

    Sumptuous spreads

    Sulkily shared

    Wise words about love

    Made manifest in Christ

    And remembered

    In squares of bread

    And sips of wine

    Loving Lord

    As we meet around tables this Christmas-tide

    Whatever we eat or drink

    May love be fill us to bursting point... and then some


  • All Square

    This birthday is a square number, with a vaguely biblical ring to it... a source for jubilation, maybe?

    It is thirteen years since the last square birthday... the the next will be fifteen into the future (DV, as my grandmother would say).

    There are no prizes for working it out, just a little festive arithmetic for you!