2010 and all that its brought

As I finish my work off for the day I am aware that it is also the close of 2010. Many exciting things have happened throughout this year; new friends made, acquaintances re-made, memories of friends who have passed away, the awakening of God-given potential within many of us. Borders Mission Circuit has brought some very interesting difficulties and headaches; it has brought teething issues we hadn`t anticipated and a smoothness in those areas we had expected to be difficult. BMC has offered our Christian journey something new and exciting. To those who I have inadvertently offended in any way this year I offer my apologies and ask forgiveness: I cannot always get it right but I do try ! To those who say that they don`t feel a part of the new circuit then I reply “get involved” as there are still jobs and tasks to be carried out and there are yet many fellowship events to be planned. To those who say “its too big” then I simply point to much larger circuits within Methodism and I remind us all of those within our circuit who are delighted at opportunities it brings. 2010 has brought much change within our Christian journeys, but through it all Christ has remained our centre and always will; He is the purpose for our existence and His mission is why we have come together as one. I see no other purpose for the Borders Mission Circuit other than “TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO MAKE CHRIST KNOWN”. We were led in this charge at our launch service in September by Rev Loraine our District Chair and she powerfully challenged us all to fulfill that mission statement.

To those who say “but what about our Church ?” I will always ask “is your Church really involved in Christs mission and if it is then `hallelujah`” When I first came into Ministry I felt a very strong calling that God was equipping me for evangelism and mission. Nothing over the years has happened to diminish that, and as you know more recently I have become very passionate about the developments we call Fresh Expressions of worship and Fresh expressions of Church. I hope and pray that as we enter 2011 we can all let the fire of the Holy Spirit burn within us and fan the flames of mission in our hearts, our lives, our Churches, our villages and our towns, so that we may all in our lives, words and actions share the message of Christ crucified and Christ risen from the dead.

In just over three hours time it will be 2011……. may we know the love, joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ as we move forward together into that new year.

Groom, Texas
Image via Wikipedia

So to all who have persevered with this blog throughout 2010 I wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR


Please spend some time in these opening days of 2011 to pray for peace across the world, for an end to suffering especially amongst children, for the poor of the world, and please spend time in prayer for my friends in Poiana, Romania at this time of extreme cold.

Happy New Year

Lunar Eclipse North East England 03-03-2007 22...
Image by Glen Bowman via Flickr

“The definition of an optimist is someone who waits up until midnight to see the new year in; a pessimist is someone who waits up till midnight to make sure the old year has left !”

I like this quote because it sums up both optimism and pessimism so well. Sometimes I wonder if I`m an optimist with pessimistic tendencies but I rather think that most of us are like that. It isn`t possible to be an optimist the whole time. Everyone of us has our moments of doubt, uncertainty and questioning, we simply don`t always admit it.

This, I think, is especially true of the Church and of preachers in particular. We`re afraid to admit our doubts just in case others think it’s a weakness we have, The consequence is that often many of us are outrageously and insufferably optimistic and prone, therefore, to increasing the pessimism levels in other people.

Coming from the North-east of England, as I do, New Year (or Hogmanay) is often bigger than Christmas. I`ve spent much of my youth waiting up till midnight to see the new year in and much of my early adult years wandering the streets of my home town until 6.00 in the morning when our group would arrive back at our house for me to cook them all a breakfast, or at least for the ones who had managed to stay awake and sober. New Year is a time of excitement and hope. The past is gone and it is a new, clean slate. 2011 stretches out in front of us with all its hopes and expectations, its highs and lows, its disappointments and its joys all wrapped up in sense of newness. Yes, we’ll carry much of tonight into tomorrow but it gives us the chance not only to reflect and think of what happened in 2010 but gives us the chance to turn our lives around and make a fresh start.

And that’s why I can be an optimist on this night of all nights; because it reminds me that Jesus was born into the world in order for us all to have a fresh start. He came to forgive, to pick up those who have fallen and set us all on the right road. He offers us salvation, eternity, peace and joy. Again, as I said earlier, we will have our moments of pessimism but overall there is much to be thankful for.

So I wish you all a very happy new year and may 2011 be a blessed time for you all.


Christmas in the post-War United States
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It’s been a strange Christmas this year; First of all the snow came earlier and heavier than expected which meant that it’s been a round of cancelling services and meetings. At one point for a week the village we lived in was totally blocked in with supplies just getting occasionally to the one shop in the village but being sold out within minutes ! Quite scary really.

Secondly, a variety of colleagues took poorly or were caught up with family concerns and this added to the difficulty of preparation, as my mind was elsewhere.

Thirdly, my Dad who normally comes for Christmas had the opportunity to spending it with his first great-grandchild and who would deny him that opportunity. I telephoned him on Christmas Day and it was lovely to hear him laughing and enjoying Hannah`s company. However, for us the family seemed incomplete as he has come to us for the last 17 years.

Fourthly, I think that being in a new house and surrounded by packing cases gave it all a surreal feel. We even discovered that the Christmas tree had lost two of its legs in the move and therefore couldn`t be erected. We had to go out and buy a new one.

All of these things in themselves may not have seemed much, but together  seemed to conspire to take some of the edge off the occasion.

On the other side however, we did have Rebecca, Vikki and her boyfriend Tom to stay with us and it was lovely to spend the day with them and it gave me a chance to wait on them all a little bit. I felt as though I was playing the part of my own Dad as I served egg sandwiches for breakfast !  Added to that Rebecca made a cracking Christmas dinner.

It’s interesting to think of what makes a Christmas good or bad, or more usually in-between . We put so much trust in the cooking, the cards, the traditions and so on that when anything is missing we genuinely grieve over its loss. This year for the first time we didn`t fill stockings and I found myself missing the youngsters (and Dad) not opening them, even though the same things are put in year after year.

But what really matters ? Well, I`ve found myself dwelling on the Gospel of Luke this year. Chapter 2 mentions that there was no room in the inn; well, that’s as it should be because inns, hotels and the like speak of something transitory and Jesus didn`t enter  the world as if it was a drive-thru. But he came to stay. Jesus wasn’t a paying guest here for a short time, but someone who intended to stay.

Secondly, the manger has spoken to me very much of Jesus coming to feed is people; spiritual food which we all need. The manger was the place the animals would feed from. In a similar way we need to learn to feed from all that Jesus gives; we need to be people of prayer, scripture and worship and adding to that our reasoning and our experience.

Thirdly, the shepherds were ordinary people just like me. I`m amazed that God in his Heaven cared enough to be born amongst ordinary people, not Kings or rulers. This Christmas I`ve been reminded again of a God who cares for ordinary folk, but asks something  extraordinary of us. The shepherds told others of what they had seen, earning them (no doubt)ridicule, reputation and possibly even their jobs. God asks us to do something extraordinary………………to tell others of our experience.

You see that’s what really matters: Jesus come to earth to stay, to feed and to lift up the ordinary. And our response is to go out and tell others.

I pray that this season has brought peace, love and joy to you and I also pray that the New Year will be a very blessed time for all.