Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance at Richmond

We waited in the Friary Gardens for the parade to arrive.
Recorded music gave way to drums and brass.
Service men and women from Catterick Garrison marched past.
The wreath bearers took their places on the damp grass.
We prayed.
The Last Past summoned us to silence.
Cold winter sunshine promised an unfelt warmth.
Autumn leaves blew gently in the crisp breeze.
All was quiet, the people still and remembering.
The child began to cry.
Breaking and supplementing the silence with the reminder of tears.
Just so a child cried on that silent night in Bethlehem.
We will remember them.

Saturday, 10 November 2012


It might just be me but everything seems to be changing at the moment. As the leaves fall from the trees outside my window and the nights close in I am reminded that everything changes that the seasons come and go and that this brings both challenge and opportunity. But then, even the seasons seem unpredictable as the weather patterns change.

There is change in the Diocese of Durham. I rejoice that the Bishop of Durham is to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. I know that he will be greatly missed in the diocese and by all of us who have been his colleagues in the North East, we wish him well. And we embrace change, accepting and trusting in God for the future.

Within the Methodist Church we are working with change. Sometimes they are changes that we welcome, sometimes we are challenged, often we are surprised to find God at work among us in ways that we had not anticipated and sometimes do not recognise. I rejoice in the focus on mission and commitment to personal sprituality and excellence in worship that is part of the Darlington District's development plan. As people embrace change and grow and develop in their relationship with one another and with God the old growth is pruned and the new shoots are given space to grow.

God continues to surprise me and I know that I need to be open to new and surprising directions because God does great and surprising things.

Many of us are aware of the changes in our own lives and in our own bodies and are sustained through them because we know that God's love for us is constant. God's love, God's overflowing abundant love, God's free gift of love - that is the only thing that doesn't change.

'[Nothing] in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.' (Romans 8:39)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Thing seen and unseen

A reflection from Lee Abbey

Standing on the cliff at Jenny's Leap on a warm but misty day, I look out over the sea but see only the grey blanket of fog, impenetrable, blocking my vision.
Immediately below I see the waves breaking on the rocks, messengers of an unseen power. Unseen but not unheard. The sound of the sea is strong, the crashing and heaving of the waves. By its effect, I know it.

In memory too, the sheer expanse of beauty is clear to me. The blue of sea, the curves of cliffs, the rocky beach, the distant horizon; I remember them well, I know they are there, beyond my sight but not beyond recollection.

A gull flies out from the mist, visble for seconds before merging once again with the haze. A brifly glimpsed emissary from the vastness beyond, carrying on its wings the promise of reality remembered; linking seen and unseen.

Just a few moments in one special place but an experience so often repeated.

How often I am only able to see what is immediate, my vision limited to the jostling of matters demanding attention. And beyond that the recollection of a greater expanse, a sublime beauty, the promise of eternity borne on the wings of the Spirit, calling me back to God.

 Jenny's Leap and other scenes around Lee Abbey

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Sunset Glory

I couldn't stop to take a photograph, I was driving on a dual carriageway as I returned to Darlington from Teesside. A word picture will have to suffice.

The trees and hedges were silhouetted against the brightness of the sun as were the edges of the dark clouds behind which the sun was setting. It was as if some-one had outlined the clouds in gold and beyond them, invisible to the onlooker was the source of the rays of gold, silver and orange that spread out into the sky.

I couldn't see the sun but it transformed everything. The dark rain clouds were made beautiful, The shape of the trees, not yet in leaf, was stark and clear and more noticeable than usual.

The sun, though unseen was transforming the world. And through the transformation the sun became visible.

Such is the love and grace of God.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Books glorious books!

What great news - the Cuthbert Gospels are to remain in Britain and will be on display in the North East as well as in the British Library.

I love books. I am a hoarder of books and very rarely sell or give books away. I love to sit in a room full of books and just look at them and smell them around me. I love the tactile qualities of books, feeling their weight in my hands and turning the pages. I love to sit in a comfortable chair and read and can immerse myself in the text so that I am unaware of things going on around me.

More recently I have grown to love my Kindle. It doesn't have the feel or smell of paper books but, Oh the joy of being able to take a library with me when I go away from home.

Some books are especially precious. It might be because they are firm favourites, the novels of Jane Austen or Margaret Atwood would be among mine. It might be because they were given to me by some-one special to me or belonged to such a person, I have books that belonged to my father that I would never part with. Some might be valuable because of their rarity, none of mine come into that category.

The Cuthbert Gospels are rare, they are very valuable, they belonged to some-one special and they contain the foundational texts of the Christian faith. It is so good that they are to remain in the country and to retain the links with the North East and one of the Saints who is so special to us.
I look forward to seeing them in Durham next year.