Anyone reading this tonight, I would ask that you hold my friend Judith and her friend Rita in prayer tomorrow. It is the funeral of Ritas husband Eric tomorrow. Please hold Rita, her son Neil and his family in prayer that amongst the difficulty of tomorrow there will be space for good memories of Eric.

Please pray for safe travel for Judith to and from the funeral.

Bank Holiday

OK, get ready for another moan and rant !

Why are clergy not allowed to have Bank Holidays off ?  I’ve just come through a very busy Christmas Day, spent part of Boxing Day getting ready for Sunday worship and all along I thought that as this was a bank holiday I might get some time off. NOT A CHANCE !

I recieved a phone call this morning, which I foolishly answered, to get a message to visit someone. They had decided, kindly, not to wait until tomorrow to ring me as its my day off but they felt they could ring me today. In most other professions bank holidays whether taken on the day or not are a given, but it seems to some folk that this doesn’t apply to the clergy. Why ? Are we superhuman who can keep going whatever the day it is ? Are we incapable of feeling tired or stressed or simply wanting to spend time with a good book ?

Some people will say that I shouldn’t have picked the phone up. That’s as maybe but surely there is also an emphasis on the church members to hold fire on public holidays, unless it is a real emergency.

As always I kept my tongue to the caller, agreed to visit, and am so thankful for this medium in which to vent my spleen. Thanks for reading (and therefore listening).

All I ask for in response is that anyone who is a Christian and a church goer that you remember to give your Minister/Vicar/Pastor space to relax and don’t always expect him or her to be there at your beck and call when it suits you.

Nearly there

Only one and a half hours to go and it’ll be Christmas. Am I excited ? You bet I am ! At the end of the day I’m a little child at heart. Yaaaaahh.

Christmas Tree at Ripley Chapel

Seriously, just in case I don’t get near the computer to blog tomorrow (as I’m expected to work !) I want to wish all my readers a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS and a BLESSED NEW YEAR.
May you all know the joy and love of Jesus Christ our Lord at this time.


For highly confidential reasons I cannot name or identify a certain family I’m praying for at this time. All I ask is that you hold before God families that are undergoing great stress and anxiety at this time. Please pray for peace and understanding. God will know the family that is in my mind at this time.

Presidents Christmas Message

Every year the President of the Methodist Church, Rev.d David Gamble, sends out a message to the Methodist people, through the pages of the Methodist Recorder. I have recieved permission from the Press Office to publish it here…………

“I wonder how we shall remember Christmas 2009?

I have to admit that I don’t always remember Christmas for very Christmassy reasons. Sometimes it is things to do with home or family. For example, 1995 was the Christmas we got a new cooker. It was delivered at the beginning of December. Eventually someone came to disconnect the old one on the morning of Christmas Eve, which seemed like good news, but wasn’t so good at 3.00 in the afternoon when still no one had come to connect the new one. They did come eventually – but not until very late.

Or I remember Christmas 1988. My wife, Liz, was pregnant and our baby was due in the middle of March. But then, just after Christmas, Liz went into hospital and our son, Joe, arrived two months early. When they came home at the beginning of March, I’d been so busy going to work, taking family members hospital visiting, doing the washing and so on, that the Christmas decorations were still up.

Or 1980, when my mum, who was housebound, asked to be taken out Christmas shopping on the last weekend in October. She bought and wrapped all our presents. The next day she contracted pneumonia and she died on the Monday. We opened her presents on Christmas Day. Many people associate Christmas with the death of someone special to them.

Other memories relate to work. In my first Circuit I was chaplain to an open prison for women. One Christmas we took a small group from the prison carol singing around the local village. Unfortunately, when we got back the group was one short!

So, many Christmas memories don’t seem to have much to do with the Christmas story itself. They’re not about the carols or the Christmas Day sermon, but about things – happy and sad – that were going on in our lives and the world at the time. Who will ever forget Christmas 2004, when, in the middle of the season of goodwill, the tsunami struck?

But that is part of the paradox of this time of the year. On the one hand is the Christmas story, which we like hearing again and again. On the other hand we have the real world; things going on for us, our neighbours and friends; things on the news, new cookers not turning up, people in prison, people being born too soon, people being ill, or dying. The real world.

But that’s the whole point! Christmas is actually much more about the real world than it is about a lovely story of far off places in far off times.

It’s about a young unmarried mother. And our country has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the European Union. It’s about a homeless couple and their young child out in the cold. Look on the streets of our cities. Think of the television pictures of refugees.

It’s about shepherds who didn’t go to church and weren’t all that respectable being there to witness how God was doing something new – while the churchgoers and the religious leaders weren’t there.

It’s about wise men looking for a new king and finding him not in a palace but behind a pub.

It’s about Mary and Joseph having to escape with their baby, as sanctuary seekers. Who is to say they wouldn’t have been desperate enough to hide themselves in the back of a lorry coming through the channel tunnel in their attempt to save their precious son? And what kind of a welcome would they have received here in 21st Century Britain ? And for those who didn’t escape, it’s about innocent children being brutally killed. You don’t get much more real than that! And for Bethlehem in 2009 you could also read Baghdad or Afghanistan .

Christmas is about the real world – as we know it. And it’s in that real world – at times very cruel, painful and dangerous – that God acts. Not in heaven. Not even in the temple. But right in the middle of human life at its toughest. People being born, people dying, people on the run, people with nowhere to go, people for whom there is no room.

Remember the meaning of the name Immanuel in Isaiah’s prophecy? God is with us. That’s the central part of the Christmas message. God is with us. And behind and within the lovely Christmas story is the truth of God with us in our world and in our lives. In good parts and bad, joys and pains, hopes and fears. Remember, too, that some people won’t be able to suspend normal life for a few days over Christmas. If you are literally starving; if you are a refugee or a sanctuary seeker; if you are a child being abused in your own home, worried sick that your dad’s going to be around more over the next few days – you can’t suspend normal life, however much you’d like to.

If the gospel is really the good news it claims to be (and I believe it is) then it has to be good news for the hungry, the hurting, the oppressed, the abused. Good news. God is with us.

Sharing that good news is a huge challenge – but it’s also our great joy. God be with you.”

Worrying ……………….

Interesting article in the Times today, re. the role of an Anglican Vicar and how he/she is subject to the claims and actions of the congregation.

See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6965670.ece The worrying part isn’t whats happened, as I probably don’t have the full story, but the way in which it highlights the role of clergy in general. So often we have to manage directives from Central Office and persuade our people (who are at the end of the day volunteers) to carry out certain tasks on Health & Safety, Safeguarding, statistic collecting etc. However if our people fail to see the need then the fallback is on the clergy.

I find this happening more and more. It is MY fault the Church isn’t growing; it is MY fault that there is a new ruling re. health & safety; it is MY fault that over umpteen things. I even got a phone call the other day to let me know that some boys were having a snowball fight near one of my Churches and what was I doing about it !!

Its laughable in most cases but worringly the day seems to creep ever closer when the Vicar/Minister/Priest etc will actually find themselves in court over something he/she has been told to do and over something their people have refused to do.

Or am I over imagining the situation ????

Someone special

Every now and then you meet someone special who touches your life in a seemingly small way, and when they pass on you realise what a big gap they’ve left. One of the joys of Ministry is meeting such people; Horace, one of my church members, was such a person; cheerful, ready to banter at all times, but always with a quiet wisdom and a sincere heart.

In the New Testament followers of Jesus are thought of as saints and citizens of Heaven; so often this world thinks that we have to wait until Heaven to be considered a saint whereas Scripture simply sees any follower of Jesus as such. Horace was a faithful and devoted man and I consider it a huge privilege to have had my life touched by one of Gods saints, here on earth.

My prayer, today, is that I can have a similar impact on someone else by my life.


Do you ever get that feeling of being `in` something but not necessarily `part of` it ? This week I’ve been reflecting on this as someone who has been partially deaf since birth. When at school I had many friends but somehow didn’t always feel as though I was particularly close to anyone; on reflection this was probably because I missed out on so much due to poor hearing and it has ultimately created a shyness in many situations (I know you find that hard to imagine, but its true !). That feeling of being `in` but not `of` has persisted with me all my life and has led to puzzlement on my part as to why people seem to like me, or why people want to talk to me. I am genuinely puzzled by this but appreciate that perhaps its one of Gods miracles.
I wonder if the wise men or the shepherds felt like that when they visited the manger to worship the new born King ? They were certainly `in` the event but possibly didn`t feel part of it due to not fully understanding what was happening. Instead they simply went along with it knowing something special was happening. Today I find its the same with many people; they don`t understand Christmas, or baptism, or confirmation but they know that these are special moments or occasions and so they want to be included in the festivities.
I wonder if Mary or Joseph felt the same way. I suspect that it was probably true of Joseph. After all he was not the father but expected to be dutiful; he wasn’t allowed any say in the matter but went along with it despite the potential for shame; he remained in the shadows and has done throughout history, but was incredibly faithful.
What both these thoughts say to me is that Christmas as with many areas of the Christian faith isn’t about knowing all the answers, nor is it about getting everything right or signing the right hymns. Its about accepting the mystery of God simply trusting and going `with it. So this Christmas I invite everyone to journey with us as Christians into the mystery of God, to enjoy his presence, rejoice in the adventure and to trust him for the future.