Grumpy old man (?)

Rocking the lockdown look !
 The t-shirt says Grumpy and Alison and I had a great day earlier this week when we were able to go and visit the FoxCubs (our grandchildren who we love dearly). As most of you know we used to spend our weekly day off looking after them, but we have missed their exuberance, enthusiasm, Pipers constant impression of a whirlwind and Emetts snuggles.

Now that certain aspects of lockdown are beginning to life we felt able to go across to see them, take the cubs out for half the day and give Mum and Dad a rest. Mums working from home so she could work in peace and Dad cracked on with getting the garden sorted where he’s doing a great job.

We had a lovely, exciting and certainly tiring afternoon at the local playground known as Pirate Park. Why am I sharing this ? Simply because we, like so many others, feel a certain completeness when we are with other people. Yes, some are very happy with their own company but most of us need that occasional contact with folk around us; families, friends, even relative strangers. This is one of the reasons that Social Media has taken off so successfully. Facebook, Twitter, Tic-Toc all key into our need for connectedness. I agree that much of it is rubbish, but its rubbish that connects us. Those that we are closest to aren’t simply there for our deep intellectual, theological or philosophical thinking. Its not academia or our IQ that holds us close. In all of humanity more conversation is about the silly, ordinary things of life for they are what matters to us. It is, however, also a forum where bigger topics can be shared and views aired, but I find that these inevitably generate a lot of heat and sadly abuse.

So, what does our current Covid-19 situation show us for we should all be wanting to learn throughout our life ? Well, its reminded me of the need to be with people and for that I give thanks for platforms like Zoom, Facebook, Twitter and so on. Life has become so dependent upon electronic connection; its not the same as being ‘with’ someone, a hug, a kiss, a handshake, but it gives us the chance to see a face and be reminded we are as one. Even as I type this I’m listening to evening prayers by a friend of mine Revd. Sally Coleman who leads prayers and reflections every evening through Facebook. They’ve challenged me and led me through this, but its Sallys generosity that has created them.

Covid-19 has taught me about the beauty of the world as I’ve been able to have the time I don’t always have, to go our for a walk. Simple pleasures which remind me of Gods creativity………. seeing the colours of the flowers, feeling the gentle warmth of the rain, watching

the Burton swans in a variety of places, seeing the cygnets and loving the peace that they bring. I have been reminded of the God who, as Genesis reminds us, created this world around us but also created us as well to be a part of this beauty. I have been reminded of the God who has made me (and all of us) in his own image. AWESOME !

I have been reminded of the creativity of the good Methodism folk who are seeking new ways of being Church, and not only electronically. the creation of a possible theatre based church,  a missional platform based around allotments, the helpfulness of neighbours and the kindness of the stranger seem to have broken out all around the world. Alisons Church involving itself in feeding those who cannot make their own meals for whatever reason, and serving those without through the food bank. Sadly, overshadowed by the bad news of riots, selfishness on beaches, conspiracy theories surrounding the virus and who initiated it (!), but nevertheless our Christian faith reminds us that “God wins” and his will be done.

AND now we begin to explore going back to Church; we’re exploring the logistics of how this could happen, social distancing, hand sanitisers, masks, cleaning of the building before and after worship, the maximum numbers who could attend, and the denial of drinks afterwards. We’re walking a necessary minefield but my prayer in all of this is that we don’t lose sight of the important things that God has spoken to us about, and I pray that we continue to seek out new ways of being Church.

Oh, and one more thing that this period has given me; impatience with any desire to simply return to what we had before, endless, pointless meetings refusal to be risk takers for the one who came out of Heaven and took a huge risk for us, Through the lockdown I’m aware that I’ve become grumpier and grumpier but hopefully only because my love and desire to see the world through Gods eyes continues to increase.

Take care, pray for your leaders, and pray that I may continue to be grumpy for God !!

Lockdown feelings

Now that we’ve reached this stage of the lockdown I realise that I’ve struggled for the last few weeks.

Now, don’t worry this isn’t a moan or a rant, but hopefully just an honest reflection of where I am, because if I can’t be honest with myself then I’m not being honest with God either.

And for several weeks now I don’t think I’ve been totally honest. When well-meaning folk have asked “How are you ?” I’ve responded in a way that too many folk respond and I’ve replied “oh, I’m fine Thankyou” when inwardly I’ve Wanted to say “no, I’m not fine, I feel rubbish”. I’m struggling with honesty at the moment, because I’m trying to be upbeat for everyone else and it’s hard not to be honest.

I know I’m not unique in this And part of my reason for getting this into the blog is the hope that by being honest will help someone else to be honest also.

In general i’m finding myself listless, quite often tired and without energy; some days when the sheer abundance of ‘down’ thoughts overwhelm I struggle to focus on things which adds to the constant feeling of guilt and the ever increasing desire to retire.

I’m not in depression, but simply low on more days than usual. Why ? I think like many the lockdown isolation has tugged away at my happiness and taken the edge off things. Alison and I were reflecting the other day and we agreed that she’s coping much better than me because she’s content with her own company. By contrast I’m a people person, who enjoys the crowd, working the room in a coffee morning, shaking hands and smiling with folk. I’m a performer by nature and love having people around me. Consequently at a time like this when my only social interaction with others (apart from Alison) is predominantly by electronic means I feel the loss of hugging, touching, bonding. I think also having to do everything electronically has added to the workload in a strange way. As most know we’re bringing together two circuits to start on 1st September, and all of the paperwork and legalities feel much more slow moving; As Superintendent I find myself resentful of the four month I’ve lost getting to know the South Derbyshire Circuit; I’ve also found stressful being the person many seem to look to for answers in this unusual season, and especially the current question of “when can we reopen?” Ive even faced the accusation of being a dictator for closing the churches (not the government or even the virus) as apparently I was the one who did it 🤷🏻. We’ve lost our holiday to Oberammergau, to see the passion play, and instead had a holiday at home visiting the local garden centres ! Added to this I’ve been worrying about my brothers health (and others), he has a dodgy knee. Alongside the knowledge that he has carried the bulk of the load of selling Dads house, which adds to guilt. Andrew really has been brilliant and I look up to him so much.

And yet even in my low moments there’s so much to be grateful for; I hadn’t been looking forward to Fathers Day this year, but I had the knowledge that I had something which some never have the privilege of being able to say. My brother and I have had two wonderful parents. That thought helped me on that day but alongside it came the Remembrance of a young man experiencing his very first Fathers Day. Over the years I’ve regarded Gareth as like a Godson to me (or a son, in some ways) and this year he’s learnt what it’s like to be a Dad. I enjoyed the day because of the love of my own daughters and the joy of Gareth, Charlotte and Brooke.

 

Today I received a card which lifted and encouraged me. A card with a picture of lilac on it. It came from an unexpected source; a lady I’ve known now for 24 years. inside she simply wrote words of encouragement and spoke of how she hoped this card would be my hug and some TLC.

 I have to tell you, it lifted my spirits no end. She recognised that I have my own support network of friends and family but hoped the card would be a further source of support, and it has been.

So, to all going through this pandemic with its low moments, it’s worries for further outbreaks, the loneliness of isolation and shielding, I just want to say God is in it with us in so many surprising ways.

Yesterday, I was a part of an online Bible Study group which looked at the 23rd Psalm and I was reminded of words that have carried people of faith throughout the ages. “The Lords my Shepherd, I’ll not want” (vs 1),  “even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Vs 4), “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (vs 6).

 

i know that this pandemic will be overcome one day (although I grieve over the loss of lives) and we’ll truly see again how Gods working, so I’m not depressed and simply hoping that this will give at least one person the courage to say “actually I’m struggling” and then allow themselves to see their support network of friends, family and ultimately of God.

                  God bless you, keep safe, keep alert and keep trusting God.

Unknown God

Still trying to get my head around this online service stuff. As a Circuit staff we’re producing the same worship material every Sunday at 10.00 am but delivering it on a variety of platforms, Zoom and FaceBook Live, in order to reach as many as possible.

 This is me on this mornings worship.

Notice the empty picture frame behind me. It’s not a sign that lockdown has so affected our finances that we’re selling off our ‘vast’ picture collection, but it was a product of trying to cut down on the volume of Pictures that we have in the Manse. As this weeks Scripture reading was from Acts 17:22-31 about Paul addressing the people of Athens About their ‘unknown’ God, it seemed appropriate to place the frame where it could be seen and pose the questions, “who is your unknown God” and “if it’s the Father we claim to worship, then that picture frame should be filled with things that reflect him” By that I mean our lives are the frame and the content should be love, care, compassion, goodness, peace and so on.

As we approach Pentecost next week we prepare by reflecting on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

These are what should be in the picture frame of our lives, our reflection of God.

Lockdown photos & thoughts

I begin with a series of photos, of my daily exercise throughout this lockdown period.

Going out for exercise has led me into finding areas close to home that are vibrant, full of beauty and reminders of Gods creativity.

Also trying to cope brings out the humour in me as I reflect on the next images. The first is the free toilet roll we were given by a local farm for buying over £30 pounds of their farm produce: quite how we’re going to use that much on top of what we already have I don’t know ! I reckon we’re ‘covered’ for the rest of the year.

The next picture is of the queue outside a local supermarket, where we’ve all become accustomed to social distancing, a term that most of us were unfamiliar with 8 weeks ago. These, while they make me smile, are both stark reminders of how lives, routines, thinking has changed for all of us quite dramatically.
As we celebrated the turning of the year into 2020 who could have envisaged such a turn around in lifestyles ?

Its also changed working patterns for everyone; working from home, returning to previous nursing professions, retraining in those all important key areas, becoming fruit pickers because of furloughed jobs, and so much more. In my profession, although classed as a key worker, I’ve had to work from home for most of the day, coming to terms with technology, delivering services online and via Facebook live. Zoom has become an integral part of my life as meetings have moved online. Last Thursday I attended a virtual 102 member meeting. Zoom staff meetings and even my Rotary Club had 20 attendees yesterday.

It’s beyond me as to how some are coping without this technology. It’s become the only way we see our youngsters now as every afternoon we meet  the grandchildren. Piper has become au fait with video chatting and even with playing games with Grandma over the screen.

Returning to finding more time for reading, has led me into thinking which books I still need/want/reread/read. A great opportunity for refreshing my thinking as well as clear out ,

We’ve all become familiar with the Thursday ritual of clapping our support for the NHS and frontline workers (this is Burton hospital today) and we pray that we won’t forget the sacrifice too many have made.

So this is a little of how I’m coping, but what of tomorrow and the day after…… as the Government hint at beginning to lift some of the lockdown ? We get speculation of schools returning, sport resuming, of the over 70’s still being kept in lockdown for longer than any of us, BUT it still remains just that: speculation and until firm directions are given then we continue to journey in the unknown.

However I am reminded that 7 weeks ago yesterday was the last church service I took and it was in my home Church of Consett, the church where I came to faith, where Mum and Dad sat (in the same pew 😂) for all of their married lives and in Dads case where he gained so much comfort for the near 30 years of widowhood.

Why does that thought mean so much to me ? Because that morning I preached on Mark 6:1-13 “A prophet without Honour” but especially verses 8-13 where Jesus tells his disciples that in sending them out two by two they were only to take what they needed, no bag, no money, no bread and so on. God would provide. It’s not a simple, unrealistic instruction but one that reminds us God will give us our needs, not our wants.

A part of my prayer for this season is that people will take the opportunity to reappraise lifestyles, life choices; that we may take more time to enjoy the beauty of the world at a slower pace; that we may truly build communities again rather than a collection of houses never seeing each other. I pray that this will be a better ‘normal’ when life returns and a world closer to the normal God first created.

May God bless you, keep safe, stay at home if you can

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Friday

Good Friday, eh ?

I’m currently sitting here at 5.00 am on Good Friday morning reflecting on how Jesus must have felt on that same morning all those years ago. Photograph from my bedroom window

Last night, Maundy Thursday, he’d spoken of betrayal, denial; he’d been arrested in the middle of the night and taken away from his loved ones, isolated, on his own, spending the night in a dark, damp prison cell, possibly a rough hewn hole somewhere.

………………and now dawn breaks; the day that he knows will bring pain, suffering, death on the cross.

The day that will be dominated by the cross, looming large on Golgotha and casting its shadow over the already rigged show trial with Pontius Pilate, the absurdity of the presentation before Herod and the screaming of the mob.

The day which will conclude with Jesus hanging on the cross, nails having pierced his hands, his legs cruelly twisted to prevent him levering himself up in a desperate search for air to fill his lungs, his side pierced with a sword.

The day which would conclude with the cry of Jesus, “Father, it is finished !”

I wonder how Jesus would have felt that morning as the sun rose over his final day. Fear, anxiety – almost certainly for he knew human emotion – he was fully human after all BUT I also wonder if there was a sense of anticipation within him as he approached the day. “Yes, this is it. The day I’ve worked toward; the day of victory !” He was fully God also.

Truth is none of us really know and never shall know on this side of Heaven but we do know why this is GOOD Friday; because as Christians we believe that Christ laid down his life for humanity and that ultimately he showed us the way to live the life he first gave us. Today is GOOD Friday because it is the start of the final lap which brings us all the way to
.the Resurrection on what we now refer to as Easter Sunday.

Yes, for Christians today is a difficult day but amongst the difficulty is the knowledge expressed in the old song “it’s Friday, but Sundays a-coming” that Jesus has the victory.

Covid-19 and the new normal

Dear friends I’ve avoided the subject so far as I fear many are getting fed up of it and I think that for some its creating a greater degree of anxiety.Of course Im talking about the Coronavirus, Covid-19 and the lockdown.

Its certainly a season of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, loneliness and none of us really know what to do as we’ve never been in this situation before.

Many have said to me that when we get back to normal it’ll be great; there’ll be celebrations and reunions, much rejoicing and sadly an extension of the grief that has arisen already in this time as folk have lost loved ones.

But what will be ‘normal’ ?                     A different pace to life, I hope so.                                                                               ..                                                            A greater desire to help one another, I hope so                                            ..                                                            A better appreciation of creation/nature, I hope so

I really do hope that all of the above come true, but I suspect that human nature being what it is will revert to type and carry on as if the virus had never happened. I know thats negative but I look at human history and its always been the way. Yes there will be some who will learn the lessons of care, support, community, less dependence on technology and an increase in love. However, sadly there will still be the opportunists looking for the fast buck, there will be those who seek protection for their future at the expense of others and there will be many others who will seek out the material over the spiritual. Sadly because we are a Church which encompasses all of society there will be some of these folk in our Churches as well.

We too will forget to go out and applaud our key workers, we too will start grumbling at the supermarket queues and at the things we haven’t got and so on.

No in order to assess what will be normal we need to be aware of the change that is occurring in so many places and in so many people. Although many will return to their sense of normal, the pursuit of money, promotion, better houses to live in, for others this is an opportunity to look at our own values, ethics, morals, lifestyles and to create a new and better normal.

Within Church it is the same; for years we have sought to get people into our buildings, but now that we can’t enter them we’re having to reassess what Church might be. When Jesus said to Peter “upon this rock I will build my Church…….” I don’t think he was referring to buildings but to communities; communities of believers seeking his way and his life.

And now here we are in that same place, having to decide what is the new normal for Church itself ? If we return simply to the same liturgies and to the same 5 hymn sandwich then we’re just rehashing that which has turned people away for the last 50/60 years +. I did an online Facebook reflection one Sunday and got over 180 people viewing it, far more than I would’ve got on a ‘normal’ Sunday. Now I’m not saying that we all have to rush out and join FaceBook but I am saying that there is a whole body of people out there just waiting to hear the Good News we have, but not necessarily in the way that we have known it and shared it.

Perhaps the new normal can be seen already in the way that some are caring and sharing, looking after the elderly praying for the key workers and we in the Ministry need to rethink and be allowed to rethink our Ministry. My son-in-law, Mark, asked our granddaughter this morning “what do Grandma and Grandad do ?” to which she replied “to stay at home” When he asked what were our actual jobs when we’re not at home, her answer was “to be good and then stay at home”. The wisdom of a four year old carries so much truth. Perhaps the Church has robbed many of us of our real calling, because we have to spend time on structures and on maintaining that which much of structure seems to be rejecting, when God is saying “NO, this is the way I want Church to go”

When I first felt called to Burton I was asked to spend time in the town centre building a church ‘without walls’. I spent a lot of time walking the streets, sitting on benches, drinking coffee, and simply talking to people about who I was and what I was doing. Sadly that was lost for a variety of reasons but the main one was because Church demanded so much of my time that conversation about Jesus, which we should all be engaged in, was lost. I’d love to regain the time for that thinking outside of the box when our new Circuit (East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire) begins but in order to achieve that folk will have to let go of the old normal and begin to embrace a new normal which will be multi-shaped, have a whole different ways of doing things but at its heart will have the unbeatable combination of ‘other people’ and Jesus.

To put it another way, a community which cherishes people more than the building, which seeks to promote the gifts of all people rather than just the privileged minority, which seeks to see the best in everyone from the Priest and preacher to the prostitute and drunkard

Now when the Church becomes like that it is truly a place where Jesus is at its heart and for me thats as it should be.

Thats the normal I find myself praying for at a time such as this.

May God keep you and your loved ones safe as you too seek the new normal

Wow ! what a weekend

I’ve just got home after a weekend of emotion. My home Church at Consett was celebrating its 50th Anniversary this weekend, and had invited me to preach at its celebration service. Consequently I travelled up on Friday to stay at a B&B near Dads house so that I could continue to help my brother who is carrying out the last of the clearance.. Sadly his long standing (?) knee problem flared up and he was committed to bed, and so unable to be with me. Because I was committed to the weekend celebrations I was limited to how much I could help with the house, as I wanted to see Andrew as well.

As to the weekend itself, the Chapel celebrations yesterday were wonderful as they mounted an excellent exhibition of memorabilia and lots of folk turned out to view; I was able to meet with old friends, all the time elbow bumping rather than handshakin

Judas from “Jesus Christ Superstar” (1990)

g (the more adventurous tried heel bumping !); remind myself of great memories of my time in the Boys Brigade as an officer, my Sunday-school days, my Mum and Dad in many photos, and above all else my time in the Chapel drama group, as Judas Iscariot or as a dying miner lying on the front of the stage staring at the audience two feet away with the immortal line “I’m dying” and trying to keep a straight face.

I remembered the time in the youth fellowship where I came to faith and ultimately fell for Alison; the time the Chapel supported me as a young preacher and supported me in my Ministerial training and have done since. I looked at the congregation and in my heart I gave thanks for the faces I knew and owed so much to and I gave thanks for the empty spaces where I knew who had sat there in years gone by, including my Mum and Dads empty seats. As you can imagine it was quite emotional but I’m really grateful to have been there this weekend; I was extremely conscious that it may be my last time , as with Dad gone the pull will never be the same, but I really hope it isn’t.

At the same time I was receiving texts and emails from a variety of folk about what to do re Sunday worship and weekly meetings within Church and within my Rotary club where I’m tomorrows speaker. Real concern over the thoughts coming from Government level about folk over the age of 70 having to self-quarantine for a period of time; as most of my Rotary Club and many of our Churches are populated by that age group it is a real concern as to what to do. My telephone advice was if a Church chose to close today I would support them 100% but I’ve called an urgent staff meeting tomorrow to try and get a more structured response across the Circuit.

Covid-19 is a real concern across the world and I feel that Churches need to be at the forefront of the battle against it, but how ?

Firstly, by being aware of the ever-changing scene and by following the advice coming from Government, especially about regular hand washing, using tissues and then binning them or if you dont have a tissue using your sleeve.

Secondly, by our pastoral visitors using telephones, emails, skype, FaceTime to conduct visits rather than doorstepping.

Thirdly, by prayer. Its interesting that Donald Trump has called a national day of prayer in America (genuine or political, who knows, but does his motive matter ?) and this is something all members of our Churches can do; Not gathering fro prayer but praying in our own homes for an end to the pandemic, praying for those who’ve lost loved ones and for those who are ill, and praying for protection over everyone.

You may have other thoughts about all of this but it has dogged my weekend as I’m sure it has yours. Even in the midst of joy there is a sadness to be felt; for me its been the joy of friends at home and the sadness of people. being fearful and suffering the world over.

The national Methodist Church on its website offers advice and also worship resources for those who have self-isolated either by choice or by virtue of age. Amongst its words is the reminder that We should not be afraidFor God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7.

Prayer

God of all hope we call on you today.
We pray for those who are living in fear:
Fear of illness, fear for loved ones, fear of other’s reactions to them.
May your Spirit give us a sense of calmness and peace.

We pray for your church in this time of uncertainty.
For those people who are worried about attending worship.
For those needing to make decisions in order to care for other
For those who will feel more isolated by not being able to attend.
Grant us your wisdom.

Holy God, we remember that you have promised that
Nothing will separate us from your love – demonstrated to us in Jesus Christ.
Help us turn our eyes, hearts and minds to you.

Amen

Who am I ?

I’m close to taking a funeral for a very good friend within the next few days, and I’m currently growing (?) a moustache. Whats the connection ?

Quite simply that my friend (and Alison agrees) doesn’t like it, and I’m not even sure that I suit it either, but I’ve always wondered what I would look like with a full blown ‘ache.  Alison always says whenever I’ve tried that “its like kissing a loo brush !”  I have no idea how she knows !

Its almost certain that I’ll be clean shaven soon for I value friendship and more so I value Alisons opinion, alongside the family who many years ago christened any fur on my top lip as ‘Clarence the hairy caterpillar’. However it raises the question of what do I wear or what do I look like.

Many years ago, in my teens,  I grew my hair long in order to hide my hearing aid and fit in; I grew to like my hair down to my shoulders but fashions change and so it was shortened again but just enough to still hide the aids (now up to two). I feel so much more conscious of them and it accentuates my sense of deafness.

Several years ago I discovered the beauty and comfort of crocs ; since then I’ve been both criticised and cheered by a variety of people who either love them or hate them. Whilst I admit they aren’t elegant they are extremely comfy and surely that counts for something. Lately I’ve taken to wearing moccasin style crocs and find its commented upon by both haters and lovers !

Similarly I have a tendency to wear brightly coloured waistcoats, few of any which fasten, and now I find comments being made if I don’t wear them or if I’m not wearing the brightly coloured clothes I enjoy wearing. Often the comments range from the statements of “thats not suitable for a Minister” to “you’re a trendy Vicar (!)” or “its good that you dress so badly (??)”

 This is no ones fault but it is a result of expectations fuelled by the media and the way that most of us have been raised: just look at old black and white photos of church activities, men in suits, ladies in bonnets and in the background. I think these expectations have seeped into societies sub-conscience and many of us fall for its trick.

The waistcoat Im most proud to have worn 

When I first came out of college I dressed very soberly; nearly always clerical shirt and suit, grey or black shirt. I wasn’t unhappy about it but gradually came to realise that God had called me to be who I am. In other words to ‘be me’. However I’m still assailed by peoples opinions of what a Minister should or shouldn’t look like. Interestingly I find that its usually some of the folk in Church who are liable to have a more negative opinion and the ones outside of Church who are positive and even complimentary.

Do we judge each other too much by our clothes and appearance more than by who we are, by our character, or morals, our graciousness etc ? One of my favourite theologians wrestled with this, his doubts and fears during his time in prison, where he was held and eventually executed for opposing Hitler; he in powerful book “Letters from prison” he spoke of how he must appear to others as if their views should matter to him. Ultimately he wrote the following poem entitled “Who am I ?”

Who Am I?       by Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Who am I? They often tell me how
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectations of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

 

I love the certainty of that last line for it speaks so much truth. No matter what others think of me, of my poor dress sense, or my raggedy hair, of my, sermons or services, of my lack of organisation, I KNOW that I belong to God and right here at the start of Lent I KNOW that he came to earth as Jesus to die for this world, and that includes ME.

.