Endings, Beginnings, Time Between…

In the spring, after being signed off as a curate and given permission to discern where God was calling me to next, my partner and I found ourselves driving round the villages of Yardley Hastings, Denton, Castle Ashby, Whiston and Grendon. This was surprising on a number of levels, not least because I had not expected to be embarking on rural ministry within a multi-parish benefice…I’m not sure what I had expected, and I definitely should have learned, by now, to expect the unexpected!

St Andrew’s, Yardley Hastings

A few weeks later I walked around three of the villages, and I became a little more confident that this may well be where God was calling me to be.

Walking towards Castle Ashby

In order to invite others from the diocese and local area into the process, I applied for the post, and some time later was interviewed for, and offered the post of, Rector of the Benefice of Yardley Hastings. It was such an affirming experience and I was, and still am, ecstatic to be embarking on serving these communities.

St Mary the Virgin, Whiston

As we look to the future, and indeed begin to move towards it, the need to shed – or move away from – something in order to make room for the next step becomes more and more apparent. As I prepared for my last services in the Holy Spirit parish in Leicester, it felt pertinent that the leaves were beginning to fall.

Castle Hill Country Park, Leicester

Just as leaves fall gradually, so were these endings gradual. I felt the celebration with me of the many wonderful people who I have had the very great privilege of walking alongside, as well as the lament of loss. Parting is painful, even when we know it is right. I was truly humbled by the kind words of so many who have shared a part of their journeys with me.

St Andrew’s, Jarrom Street, Leicester

The pain of parting gave way to a flurry of activity related to moving house – packing and unpacking. This Sunday, after getting settled in the Benefice of Yardley Hastings, I was licensed as Rector via Zoom. In these strange times much of this discernment process has been conducted on line, and being physically present at various stages has affirmed God’s call on my life now. Clarity of God’s voice has been so important, yet I have wondered how patient life allows us to be to wait on God, to listen for God’s still small voice…? As I look to these parishes, in these strange times, I hope and pray that we can wait on God, notice where God guides us, in order that we can best be God with skin on in our small corner of the world.

Wait for the Lord, whose day is near; wait for the Lord, keep watch and pray…

Sometimes seeing through God’s lens means that we need to take time to discern where the focus needs to be…I guess it’s about being comfortable with seeing things a little out of focus, and yet still looking again to see what lies beyond the blur!

Missiological Reflection

This seems like so long ago that I spent a little over a month with a church in Tokyo, but my missiological reflection on the experience has been published, and is now available here.

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Is this the end of the line…is it time?

They say it doesn’t have to be this way…

Here lies a moment to pause, to think and reflect as I try to work out whether it is a full stop or semi-colon moment – is this the end of the line…is it time? I’m not like everyone else, see. I don’t have the confidence to be the success I dreamed of in my infancy…I don’t even have the motivation to try anymore. I have lost my fight, and certainly don’t have the right to claim any position or status here.

Is this the end of the line…is it time?

They say it doesn’t have to be this way…

It doesn’t have to be this way…but how can it all be okay? I feel overwhelmed and ashamed of all that has gone before. I’m not like everyone else, see. I don’t have the strength to fight…I’d much rather take flight. Running though, as I have learned, fails to reach resolve – everything seems to find a way of catching up in the end. Those other semi-colon moments wreak regret, see…

Is this the end of the line…is it time?

They say it doesn’t have to be this way…

Is it time to change, to become more long-range? To look beyond, rather than remain trapped within…crushed and submerged by all that is negative in me. I want to change, to move outside of myself, but it’s so hard…it takes such courage, and impossible to do alone. I’m not like everyone else, see. I’m not strong enough to be me amidst a sea of thee…capable, confident and in control.

Is this the end of the line…is it time?

They say it doesn’t have to be this way…

I’m not like everyone else…who is this everyone else? These people who have it all sorted, who fall into the life they desired and dreamed of? The perfect people with perfect parents, perfect places and perfect prospects…I thought they were everywhere but as I tentatively reach out from this hole, this pit of despair, there are a few more who understand; they get it…

Is this the end of the line…is it time?

They say it doesn’t have to be this way…

It doesn’t have to be this way…

It’s a semi-colon, not a full stop

As it is Mental Health Awareness Week, I have been praying for those who are struggling at the moment, particularly with our semi-lockdown state. This is a piece I wrote a while ago in relation to the symbolism of the semi-colon.

Balance

The visibility of ‘Church’

I’ve read and watched with interest as so many have grappled with, or tried to make sense of, this season of lockdown, where we are absent from our churches. I’ve very much felt the presence of pray-ers in the walls in some churches, and have loved the sense of God’s presence that that has brought. I’ve also been really encouraged by the inventive ways that the people of God have found to be ‘church’ or the ‘body of Christ’ in their communities over these last weeks. I’ve loved the ‘shop window’ opportunity that has come from an internet/social media presence, and I’m encouraged by the ways in which people have engaged. I’ve even been surprised by how energising I have found ‘creating’ worship, or God encounter opportunities.

I’ve also heard snippets of dialogue about how much easier and cheaper it would be to have more people work from home, even after the lockdown is lifted. Some people would welcome the idea and some would really not. I’ve been working from home since I became a curate, but I currently miss getting out of the house, and away from the screen, and having people to bounce ideas off. I was sent an article this week by Roger Cohen, who was musing on what moving away from the ‘old dispensation’ might begin to look like. He refreshingly called for ‘balance’ in the ‘something new’…how do we get more balance as Church so that the ‘shop window’ approach continues, as do worship possibilities for those who are housebound?

Holy Week Compline

All you will need is a comfortable spot and a little over 15 minutes. Feel free to bring a cup of tea and just let the words wash over you, or join in with the words on the screen.

“Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world we pray…”

Holy Week Compline

All you will need is a comfortable spot and a little over 15 minutes. Feel free to bring a cup of tea and just let the words wash over you, or join in with the words on the screen.

“Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world we pray…”

Holy Week Compline

All you will need is a comfortable spot and a little over 15 minutes. Feel free to bring a cup of tea and just let the words wash over you, or join in with the words on the screen.

“Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world we pray…”

Gathering…

How do we gather the people we love together, to share, to lament and to laugh with one another? Over the last few weeks we’ve been video-calling those we love, sharing coffee together as well as laughing and crying about the highs and lows of lock-down. This gathering, or drawing together as community, as family is more important than ever! God is a God of relationship, of community; God works through each of us for each of us. Gathering in creative ways is more important than ever…and it is a powerful form of prayer!

Fire gazing…

This evening I’ve been fire-gazing…in my view one of the most ancient forms of prayer! I invite you to get lost in your own thoughts with God our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer at your side as you gaze into a fire, sit with a cup of tea or just watch the sun goes down….

Glory to God, Source of all Being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

#Grateful…

Grateful for tea!

For some reason today has been difficult…I feel like I’m really struggling with aspects of the lockdown, and trying to work as normal. I think this is inevitable, it perhaps just hit me later than it has others. I also think that’s what prayer is about; owning how we feel in this moment, and just ‘being with’ God. This was so much easier with a cup of tea in my hand, and I came out of that time feeling grateful for tea and time with God!