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  • Advent is Coming...

    It all started in 2020, when we were all pretty much locked down, and I tentatively offered a fifteen minute Zoom reflection each week-night at 9 p.m. To my surprise, we regularly attracted around 25 'devices' - perhaps 30 people - who seemed to find something valuable in that pause space.  In 2021 and 2022, similar Zoom spaces attracted similar numbers of people, but now globally, with people joining form the Bahamas, from the USA, from Wales, Scotland and England.

    So this year, in a new context, I am offering something similar, using a little book newly published as the basis for a series of 15 (Advent is short this year) weeknight reflections with Bible readings, poems/carols, pictures, prayers and music.  As well as my own little church in the Railway Town, I am opening this up to others (and already I have requests from across the UK).  I am quietly excited to share with others as we wait in hope for the one who comes...  

  • Roll of Honour

    Yesterday, for the Remembrance service - which someone else led sensitively and thoughtfully - the church's Roll of Honour was on display.  I haven't seen one like this before, since rather than a memorial for those who died in active service, it was a list of those who went into active service during WWII, asking people to pray for them.  The two edged in black were the those who did not return.

    I was interested - and pleased - to note that the minister who led us read out the names of those from the church who had died during the two World Wars... similar to what I have done in the past, displaying the names on a PowerPoint presentation.

    During the silence, I paused to remember those on the Memorials at Dibley and at the Gathering Place... I can't recall all the names, but I recall the memories of remembering them... and still the lists grow, year on year... and still we pray that Gods rule of shalom will be found in human hearts and lives.

  • Red, White and Purple...

    Remembrance is important - as the saying goes, those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it.

    Remembrance is complex - it stirs strong feelings, sometimes intemperate feelings, with people taking sides and misunderstanding (or even choosing not to understand) either the histories or the stories of others.

    Remembrance is nuanced - it recognises that this cannot be about 'us and them', cannot be reduced to 'just war theory' or to a utopian ideal that 'the world will live as one.'  Many - often most - military deaths are conscripts and/or young people from less privileged and even disadvantaged backgrounds.  Civilian deaths - sometimes expressed using a 'civilian casualty ratio' are significant, and can be as high as those of military personnel. 

    More recently there has been an interest in animals in war, perhaps arising from Michael Morpurgo's children's classic 'War Horse.  I read this week that an estimated 500,000 cats were deployed to the trenches in World War I, to say nothing of ships' cats.  Horses, dogs, homing pigeons... animals who do not choose political causes but are taken - and sometimes trained - for combat situations... sniffer dogs are more 'expendable' than soldiers.

    So, I choose to remember, to enter the place of discomfort, to name and honour those who died... to wrestle with the big questions of war and peace and justice and rights and goodness knows what else... I choose to remember, because to forget is yet more dangerous. 

    It's no secret that I love cats, and these two, today, are sporting purple poppies of remembrance for animals who also served... 

    Sophie poppy.jpg

    sasha poppy.jpg

  • Away Day

    Yesterday I needed to travel to Glasgow for a meeting.  As my train neared Central Station I wondered what/how I would feel.  Actually I didn't feel anything very much, realising that, although I had lived longer in Glasgow than anywhere else, I am, at heart, a 'wandering Aramean'.  It was a beautifully sunny day, and Glasgow was looking her very best, but she isn't home anymore, rather, like London and Northampton, like Warrington, Derby, Leicestershire and Manchester, she is somewhere I once lived, whose story is part of mine (and I part of hers) but all of it part of greater, more mysterious and wonderful whole.  I don't expect other people to 'get' that, since most people are rooted somewhere, but it's my truth.  I loved my time in Glasgow, and I treasure the memories and the friendships... but my 'citizenship' isn't defined by geography.  I recall half a lifetime ago saying 'wherever I park my car, that's my home'... now I guess I would, if pressed, say 'home is where my cats are.'

    The photo is inside Andrew's Cathedral in Glasgow - somewhere I had never been able to visit when I lived there.  It is a beautiful, tranquil place, and reminder of the universality of God's unending love that is unconfined by human geography.   

  • Social Enterprise Breakfast!

    Cafe on the Corner is one of the social enterprise cafes near where I live.  A place that serves food and drinks at competitive prices, and ploughs all its 'profit' (surplus) into social projects.  It is set in part of a former church, and occupies a handy corner position (hence its name) and serves very tasty breakfasts, lunches and sweet treats.  The same premises also house a food bank and a bicycle workshop, serving the local community in many ways.

    If you are visiting this town, it's worth a visit.