Friday, 29 April 2011

Kate Middleton will love honour comfort and keep

It's the big day, the Royal Wedding, the day that Prince William marries Kate Middleton.

The guests are pouring into Westminster Abbey and the world is watching. The media are all switched on, and so are apparently half the world.

The questions are being asked:
When will we see the dress?
How beautiful will be the flowers?
Who will be attending?
Where will the Beckham's sit?
What will the kiss be like?

But what is really important to me today is the wedding itself. To witness two people affirming their love for each other is an honour.

A lot has been made of the fact that Kate will not "obey" Prince William in the vows; she can rest easy though because shes in great company, I didn't vow to obey Mike either.

But what had not been made so much of, and what I think matters more, is that Kate will instead love, honour, comfort and keep..

I love that, it is beautiful that she will vow to comfort her husband all through their lives, and keep him in her safe embrace. That for me is the best way of describing marriage, it's about being there through it all. That's love, that's respect, that's what I'm looking forward to seeing today.

Father we ask that today especially you hold William and Kate in your loving embrace as they make this amazing commitment to each other. Be with them through their married life, comforting and keeping them. Amen.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Why marry?

It is the week of the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, a day of joy and commitment for these two and their families.

I have decided to bring together Samuel and weddings on Sunday with the kids to answer the question, why do we marry?

We will be exploring what we like about those people we love, what it is inside them which we like about them. Is it their openness, fragility, compassion, friendliness, emotionality; can it even be stated that easily.

We will be looking at how we can only really know someone if we see inside them, inside to the real person that God sees. This is how God selected Samuel, by knowing that he was a good man inside and out.

And we will be thinking about the royal wedding and praying for their lives together, asking God to be with them and all people in love as they grow together and get to know each other even better on the inside.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Campaign to show respect

There are a number of definitions of respect according to the Oxford English Dictionary; 3 nouns and 2 verbs.  The one to which I am referring is:
 a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

I have respect for many people; for friends, family and colleagues alike. I respect some organisations, a large number of charities, a few politicians although not really any political parties, and a great many volunteers.

I try to expect my respect for people I know.  I might email them or write to them, or better still tell them.  But I have found that people are shocked to be told they are appreciated.

This year the government wants us all to become happier.  There have been all sorts of campaigns to help is with this, fabulous.  But I know from experience that there is very little as touching and heartwarming as to be told you are appreciated and respected for what you are and do.

So how's this as a thought.  
This week try to identify people and actions you respect, and tell them.  Shout it, write it, whisper it; just spread the happiness and tell someone you respect them.

If you join in then link up so we can all share the respect and love
Happy respecting

To start us off I'm tagging ten others and asking them to do the same.
That's you: @geekmummy @loveoffilm @estwill @babesabouttown @emmaraphael @kitchenkate85 @maris_world @Frankie_Parker @Motivatingmumuk @cafebebe

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Silent sunday

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Silent Sunday

Easter Sunday

Picture the scene. 

It's 5am and the alarm goes off, heavy with sleep but somehow energised I rise from bed and quickly get ready.

It's 5.20am and I leave home to the sound of bird song, who can doubt the presence of God in the wonder of creation, not I.

It's 5.30am and I stand with twenty or so others in the pre-dawn light by the side of the Maiden Erlegh Lake.  We pray, we hear the resurrection story, we sing and we witness the dawn.

Christ is risen, Alleluia!

It's 6.15am and we are eating mini eggs; watching the swans, ducks and massive fish starting their days; and sharing the fellowship of christ's love.

It's 6.30am and I am coming down my road, back home.  The sun has risen, God's son has risen; look at the light emanating on this morning.

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Happy Easter.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Easter Saturday: reflection with Mary

I've been a Christian all my life (apart from that teenage blip) and never before have I thought of the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday as anything other than a day in between.

This year is very different.

This year I am experiencing a quiet reflective grief, mostly as a mother.

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This year I am very much sitting with Mary as she grieves the death of her son. I can not even start to imagine the heartbreak, the horror, the desperation she must have felt.  And yet I can empathise, I can understand many aspects of her grief through that I have lived through myself.

This year, for the first time I am not jumping ahead to the joy of Easter sunday's resurrection.  Instead I am sitting with this grief.

Easter for kids

This is the talk I gave at our family Easter service:

Do you ever wish you could have a second chance?

Like when you are skipping and loose concentration and wish you could try to get a high count again

Or when you miss the all important goal and you don't win the match

Like when you shouted at your mum and didn't mean to

Or when you told a great big fib "yes I've tidied up" 

or perhaps a lie "it wasn't me" 

Like when you said something horrible to a friend and upset them

Or maybe just when you touched your gran's favourite vase and it broke

How great would it be to be able to turn back time, just a little bit, and do it again; but better this time.

Would you like that?

Do you want to hear the good news?
Jesus gives us the second chance.

We have heard the Easter story this morning.

We've heard how Jesus was sentenced to death for no good reason, was humiliated and put through awful pain, and died on the cross.

He could have stopped his death; he was God.
But he let it happen, he went through it, so that WE could be forgiven for all the things we do wrong.
Jesus, on the cross, gave us our second chance.

And guess what, there's even more good news!
When Jesus came back to life, was resurrected, He sent the disciples out to spread the news that Jesus died to forgive us.  And to help them and us, God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us.  Here, outside; yesterday, today and tomorrow; we have the Holy Spirit with us helping us in making the right decisions and supporting us.

So do you ever wish you could start again?
Today we know we are forgiven and we know that God is with us if we but ask him to help us.


Friday, 22 April 2011

++Rowan writes for God

Yes, you read the title correctly, Archbishop Rowan wrote to a six year old after she wrote looking for answers about who invented God.

I am clearly not the originator of this story, it was reported on the telegraph blog by Damian Thompson at But it has got me thinking, and what better place to air these than here?

Let me first show you what ++Rowan wrote to this six year old girl

Dear Lulu,
Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this –
‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected.
Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like.
But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’
And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off.
I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf. Lots of love from me too.
+Archbishop Rowan

I am completely astounded and uplifted that ++Rowan found the time to write a personal response to a girl who was looking for answers.  He didn't fob her off and didn't talk down to her or over her head.  He took the time to read her letter, understand what she was looking for, no doubt pray on how to respond and then wrote to her at her level.  He took time.  He just shot up another notch in my opinion.

I have read many of ++Rowans books and papers and never ever have I read anything that makes as much sense or moves me so deeply.  This probably reflects more on me and my intellect than anything, but hey "come as a child".

"they discovered me" - wow.  How fantastically simple an explanation is that about what happens when we come to faith.  Never before have I read anything that captures how it was so perfectly.  

Yes, I discovered God, 
discovered a relationship with God, 
discovered peace in God's presence,
discovered God's call on my life.

Thank you ++Rowan, what an uplifting end to Good Friday.

Good Friday

No it's not good, but "good" comes from the root "Holy". So today is Holy Friday.

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Today is the darkest day.

Today we remember Judas' betrayal.

Today we hear the crowds crying for Jesus' death, and we feel Pilate's weakness and fear.

Today we feel the weight of the cross, the sharpness of the crown of thorns and the pain of the nails.

Today we hear again the last hours of Jesus' life.

Today we remember with sorrow the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Today we hear and feel Jesus giving his life for us.

Today, for me, is heartbreaking.

Today, despite knowing the glorious happy ending, I shed tears of grief.

Today is the darkest day.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter.  On this day we remember specifically the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles. 

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A Eucharist service is held on Maundy Thursday in the form normally used, a sermon or homily is given and this is followed by the feet washing.

The Washing of the Feet is a traditional component of the celebration in many Churches including St Nicolas Earley.  It is a physical reminder of how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples after the last supper.  At St Nics the clergy wash the feet (or hands if preferred) of the congregation.

The service ends with the removal of the sacraments from the altar; which itself is then stripped bare.  This sets the somber mood for Good Friday, preparing the worshippers as they leave.

I am always taken aback by the experience of having my feet washed.  Even the first time I went for it, when embarrassment was my main concern, I felt honoured.  And today, years on, I know I will feel connected through time to Jesus, the man who served and continues to serve.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Space for peace and quiet

Highcliffe castle in Dorset.
3 in the afternoon.
Mike and Rachel exploring the beach.
And me?

in the bluebell wood, 
watching the sky,
hearing the waves break,
and the birds sing,

Take yourself off to the same peace and quiet; close your eyes and let nature's music drift over you. 

Stations of the cross

There are traditionally 14 Stations of the Cross, following pictures or sculptures.  Sometimes there is a 15th station showing Jesus' resurrection.

At St Nics the stations are provided on tiles around the church by the windows, well worth a look at.

Here is a different picture of the stations which I like

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They are: 
1. Jesus is condemned to death
2. Jesus is given his cross
3. Jesus falls the first time
4. Jesus meets His Mother
5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7. Jesus falls the second time
8. Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem
9. Jesus falls the third time
10. Jesus is stripped of His garments
11. Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
12. Jesus dies on the cross
13. Jesus' body is removed from the cross
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense.

Tonight we will journey with Jesus through the stations as part of the Holy Week services.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Taize Light

Taize Light

John 12:36
"While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light."

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Jesus said this in Jerusalem, telling people to believe in His light whilst He remained on earth with them.

Today we know the light of Christ through our relationship with Him; we believe in the light and walk in the light.

O Christ, you give everything, you give your life and also your forgiveness; it will never vanish.

Bless us, Christ Jesus; when threatened you did not retaliate, and you come to heal us by your compassion.

Heal us, Lord; you burn away the trials of life in the fire of your presence.

Strengthen us, Eternal God, and we will wait in silence and peace until the light of the Resurrection rises upon us.

BP oil spill one year on

It is a year since the oil spill from the BP well deepwater horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.

One long year for all those living along the coast affected by the spill.
One short year to try and even start to understand the impact on the future of the environment and life in the area.

In my previous life I was a risk management specialist, dealing in the assessment and management of risk. I know how hard it will be to even try and calculate the long term impacts of a disaster of this scale; models can be produced and run, best estimates produced by experts and professionals analyse the results but this is all based on previous experience and statistics, all open to error.

One year on marine life is still being found dead. Birds are still affected. Fishing areas still constrained. Yes there is improvement, yes there is hope, yes things are better; but there is no way of knowing when things will return to the state they were beforehand, if ever.

Having read the various articles and commentaries on the disaster I have realised that reporting takes two very different forms; it either focusses on the economic impacts for the area of the spill and for BP, or it looks at the environmental impact. I would like to see a more comprehensive analysis of the situation as a whole, it is all interconnected and as important to those who live in the region.

Today and tomorrow I remember all those affected by the disaster, asking for God's peace and healing for the people, animals and environment.

for more information I recommend these articles by the BBC, Greenpeace, Telegraph and Bird Trader

Monday, 18 April 2011

Jesus at the temple

Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem.

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Everyone was preparing for the passover festival.  Pilgrims were buying coins as offerings.  Others were buying animals to be sacrificed. 

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Jesus watched and grew angry.  He grabbed a rope and made a knot at the end.  He went from stall to stall telling them to leave.

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He tipped over the tables.

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He shouted at each to leave. 

buying and selling has nothing to do with worshipping God.  The temple is a house of prayer. You are making it a den of thieves.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Rejoicing in nature

It must be at least 15 or 20 years since I've been inspired to write a Poem, but today I have. It's no great masterpiece but it captures the here and now.

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Watching the glinting on the sea
Feeling as chilled as can be
The sun on my face
The breeze in my hair
Waves a-breaking everywhere.

Birds are tweeting on the wing
Life rejoicing in everything
The flowers in the grass
The shells on the sand
Sitting knowing all is grand.

This is the time that I await
Feeling my energy generate
Time to think
Time to pray
Having my cares fly away.

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, the first day of holy week, the start of Easter.

Today we celebrate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, being welcomed as a king as he rode in on a donkey.

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The bible, in all four gospels, tells us about this day.  How people laid their cloaks and small branches on the floor for Jesus on the donkey to walk on.

Today is the welcoming, the high point before the days of Jesus' passion.

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At many churches today, including St Nics, palm crosses will be handed out to symbolise the day.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

God of Earth and Outer Space

This week Rachel and I (and Mike along the way) have had two God moments.

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The first was at the Winchester Intech Planetarium.  Being taken on a visual trip through the galaxy was stupendous.  We were all three of us awe struck.  

I came out thinking "right there is the wonder of God in all creation, who could doubt?"

Rachel in her five year old simplicity said aloud "God's amazing to make all that!"

Mike, well he was more struck with "how could God possibly worry about people if He made all everything?"

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The second was on Avon Beach, just over the border from our flat, in Dorset.  We were there in the early evening with the beach all to ourselves.  

I was searching for round, smooth pebbles which I love to hold in prayer.  Rachel was collecting shells.  Mike was gazing out to sea.

After an hour, with my pile of pebbles and Rachel's pile of shells, we sat on the sea wall.  As I watched the sea and clouds and smelt the seaweed and felt the breeze, I knew God to be there.    With us, around us, in us.  And at that moment Mike said "peaceful isn't it" and Rachel just said "God will love your prayers on the stones mummy, on his stones."

So today, reflecting on this, a hymn from my teenage years came to my mind; a hymn that brings together these wonders of the week.

And here it is: 

God of earth and outer space, 
God of love and God of grace, 
Bless the astronauts who fly, 
As they soar beyond the sky. 

God who flung the stars in space, 
God who set the sun ablaze, 
Fling the spacecraft thro the air, 
Let man know your presence there.

God of atmosphere and air, 
God of life and planets bare, 
Use man’s courage and his skill 
As he seeks your holy will. 

God of depth and God of height, 
God of darkness, God of light, 
As man walks in outer space, 
Teach him how to walk in grace.

God of man’s exploring mind, 
God of wisdom, God of time, 
Launch us from complacency 
To a world in need of thee. 

God of power, God of might, 
God of rockets firing bright. 
Hearts ignite and thrust within, 
Love for Christ to share with men.

God of earth and outer space, 
God who guides the human race, 
Guide the lives of seeking youth 
In their search for heavnly truth. 

God who reigns below, above, 
God of universal love, 
Love that gave Nativity, 
Love that gave us Calvary


Ministry at home

Tomorrow is our 12th wedding anniversary.

12 years ago this was our wedding day.

Tomorrow I am scheduled on a few church rotas. I'm not "officially" on duty, but the thing about being a lay minister is that I am still involved with roles which the congregation can choose to undertake.

(yes, I think I need to review the fact that I'm on 4 rotas excluding Sunday school but that's for another day.)

Can you see the possible friction point in my house tomorrow?
I feel pulled between church and home.

Thankfully we have fantastic church wardens who understand my predicament and are arranging cover for me at church tomorrow. Thank you guys.

And so tomorrow I will minister the gospel of love and marriage in my own home; a ministry as important as any other.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Days 8, 9 & 10 of 30

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Day 8 (Tuesday)
Today I had a Jamie party and needed mike to be home early, he was and I told him how much I appreciate that when it's the last day at work for a week. He was pleased and said it was a good reason to leave because the to do list wouldn't ever get done.

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Day 9 (Wednesday)
First day of our holiday, day when I'm always chasing mike out the door so we can leave on time. But get this, today he was ready first!!! I was all ready to tell him how much I was impressed but then Rachel had a meltdown because she wasn't first. At least we shared a smile that she had noticed his readiness.

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Day 10 (Thursday)
Today I'm classifying as an absolute miracle that I stated positive.

Today we were talking about whether to stay an extra day and go home on Sunday since the weathers improving through the week. I raised the slight issue that I didn't have his wedding anniversary present with me. He looked shocked! Oh yes, he'd forgotten! (Rachel was properly thrilled to be found right in her guess).

But get this from my darling husband:
"I didn't forget the date, I just forgot it was this Sunday."

Anyway, my little act of positivity was to laugh and not rant and rage.
I think that's good enough, how about you?

However I might be breaking the rules of this challenge because I'm sure he'll now spoil me on Sunday, bit I think that'll be more his guilt and pride talking.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Bi-polar disorder

I had a mixed reaction to the news this morning that Catherine Zeta Jones has been diagnosed and treated successfully for bi-polar disorder.

Obviously extremely sorry for her that she has been feeling extremely depressed.

Also hopeful that she will manage her condition well since she sought professional help and is being treated.

But mainly pleased that she took the brave step to share her diagnosis with the world; raising the awareness of these oh so common mental illnesses and therefore helping to remove the stigma that can make them all the more difficult to live with.

My prayers are with Catherine and all bi-polar sufferers.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Mothers Union

I have been debating with myself for some time about whether or not to join the Mothers Union. I often read their website and I think the work the organisation does is fantastic including:

With 4 million members working in 81 countries, Mothers' Union is passionate about caring for families all around the world.

Our work is threefold;

Programmes: a diverse range of programme meets the needs of people within local communities - from entrepreneur training, health education, parenting and relationship education provision, to teddies for children experiencing stress or trauma - our programmes are designed to meet the needs of people at the local level.
Internationally, nationally and at the local level, our policy work challenges root causes of injustice and works for better conditions in society for children and families.
All of our work is underpinned by the Christian faith of our members
- a challenge to 'love mercy, seek justice and walk humbly with our God.' Micah 6:8.

Our church branch, although full of wonderful women, is in the older side and I am at least 25 years younger than the current youngest member. And this left me feeling a little unsure whether I would fit in.

But today I went to the meeting for the first time, to ask for volunteers for our new toddler service, and was welcomed openly and enjoyed the fellowship. So I made the decision to join; no reason not to, lots of reasons to do so.

I will join officially next month at their service in church and hope to get fully involved; exciting times.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Restricted human rights

As reported by the BBC today a ban on face covering veils came into force in France. I can't believe they've actually brought this new law into place, surely it is an infringement of the human rights.

I understand that there is fear around the veil and especially the Burkha because you can not see the person inside.

I understand that some women are forced or coerced into covering their faces.

I understand that there are calls for this across Europe.

But, seriously, the wearing of veils is usually a decision made by the women themselves; it allows them to go about the world without feeling watched. Many women report feeling safer and less objectified, it's their choice, allow them to continue.

I truly hope this law does not spread across Europe.

Depression awareness week

This week is depression awareness week. And believe me, we all need to be more aware of the prevalence, treatability and support available for those of us who suffer with depression.

Here is some information about how depression can display itself:

You feel miserable and sad.
You feel exhausted a lot of the time with no energy.
You feel as if even the smallest tasks are sometimes impossible.
You seldom enjoy the things that you used to enjoy - you may be off sex or food or may 'comfort eat' to excess.
You feel very anxious sometimes. 
You don't want to see people or are scared to be left alone. Social activity may feel hard or impossible.
You find it difficult to think clearly.
You feel like a failure and/or feel guilty a lot of the time.
You feel a burden to others.
You sometimes feel that life isn't worth living. 
You can see no future. There is a loss of hope. You feel all you've ever done is make mistakes and that's all that you ever will do.
You feel irritable or angry more than usual.
You feel you have no confidence.
You spend a lot of time thinking about what has gone wrong, what will go wrong or what is wrong about yourself as a person. You may also feel guilty sometimes about being critical of others (or even thinking critically about them).
You feel that life is unfair.
You have difficulty sleeping or wake up very early in the morning and can't sleep again. You seem to dream all night long and sometimes have disturbing dreams.
You feel that life has/is 'passing you by.'
You may have physical aches and pains which appear to have no physical cause, such as back pain.

It's this wealth of depression symptoms, and the broad scope that confuses many people as to what depression actually is. Explanations rarely cover all the symptoms, and everybody's experience is different.

If you are reading this and hearing some alarm bells then please don't panic. Many of these are signs of tiredness. But if you keep wondering if you're depressed then please go and see your doctor, they know what they're looking for and they are a source of support and help; believe me, I've been there.

Nominated for MADS

I truly never expected to see myself nominated for the MAD Blog Awards 2011 once, let alone in five different categories between Major Love of Film and LLM Calling. Thank you so much to whoever it was who nominated me, I'm thrilled beyond words.

MAD Blog Awards 2011

I read the blogs who are nominated in the same categories as me; I recommend them and admire them and am inspired by them. Did I mention that this is a massive honour.

Do you know why I blog?
I started here at LLM Calling because I was learning so much in my ministerial training that I wanted to share it both as a release and in the thought it would be interesting for me to read in the future. Then Major Love of Film blog came about because Rachel wanted to join me blogging and told me to start one for her; I decided age 5 was too young but said we could blog together. The experience of blogging with Rachel has been fantabulous; it's given us our very special mother daughter 'thing' and will be a real life diary of our lives from age 5 onwards.

That's why I blog, for me and for Rachel and for posterity; I have been constantly astounded that people like reading our musings, thank you guys.

Day 6 & 7 of 30

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Yesterday was a super simple cuddle when he wasn't expecting it, a demonstration rather than words, and it felt good!

And it was even more simple this morning, Rachel was really sad that he had to go to work on her school holiday day, he swept her up and gave her time (which he rarely has time for). I told him how much she appreciated that and how fabulous it was to see. He went off to work looking pretty chuffed :)

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Anglican Covenant: for or against?

I have steered well clear of all detailed debates about the Anglican covenant until now, mostly because I felt overwhelmed by the details and issues. But I've decided I can now face the debate, and need to get to grips with it seeing as how sometime this year I will debate and vote on our own pcc's decision.

So I have researched and read over the last weeks and here are some of my findings and thoughts.

For facts about the covenant, including the text itself, I recommend this document which provides the Anglican covenant, with a brief introductory explanation by the Church of Wales:

For comment and debate I have a few recommendations.
1. Here is a fabulous article on the covenant which is readable and explains my thoughts more clearly than I can

2. From the "no covenant" campaign website  I have selected a few quotes that I agree with:

"Classic Anglican theology stems from the writings of the sixteenth-century theologian Richard Hooker, who argued that, in addition to scripture and tradition, we have reason to guide us. 

With these three sources of authority, change becomes possible and proper as conditions and understandings change. Allowing a diversity of opinion allows us to explore new possibilities.

The main argument in favour of the Covenant is that it would prevent controversies being so bitter by establishing an international authority with power to decree Anglican teaching. 

We believe that, on the contrary, it would encourage schism, because it would treat those who dissent from any such judgment as un-Anglican. 

Instead we believe unity is best ensured by maintaining the classic Anglican position that diversity of opinion is a sign of a healthy community committed to seeking—but not necessarily always possessing—truth."

3. Thinking Anglicans  provides links to all manner of views and writings on the covenant including this blog (part of a series) analysing section 3

4. From the church times comes a special edition on the covenant with a balanced and wide range of views included 

So where am I now?
I am where I thought I was, where I expected to be, where I am now sure I belong...

- I like the idea of the covenant.
- I agree with the essence and principles contained in it.
- I long for community within the Anglican community (and wider if I'm honest, but let's not open up that can of worms)

I believe the Anglican communion to be a family, and I do not have a contract managing my relationships with my spouse, family and friends.  

More than that, I remain in relationship with these people even though we do not agree on everything.  We work at our relationships, we love each other despite our differences.  We support each other and celebrate our strengths whilst helping with weaknesses.

So no, I don't agree with the covenant. But I very much support the Anglican communion; in relationship with each other and Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.

I found this prayer for unity, and it seems fitting to end with it.

Creator of the universe, who made us different from one another in myriad ways we can see and in more ways we shall never know, yet made us all in your image; fill our hearts with your love and our minds with your wisdom, that we may truly become brothers and sisters of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

—Prayer for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Anglican Cycle of Prayer, 2007, 2008

Raising Lazarus

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Todays lectionary reading was John 11:1-45. This was the conbination gospel and talk I gave at the family service.

Today we are going to hear the gospel differently, in fact we are going to experience it together.

 1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

 8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

 11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

 14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

 16 Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

 17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 

30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

   “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

 35 Jesus wept.

Salt water to taste the tears

 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

 38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
   “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Spices to smell

 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Muslin to feel

   Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

 45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.


Jesus' raising of Lazarus from the dead shows God’s power physically.  It demonstrates how God, through Jesus, will end death and allow us to live again.

The miracle was performed after death, rather than before, to show those there, us now and all people of all time who trust in God will not die but have new life! 

We learn today, by hearing this miracle, that death is not the end, but the beginning of life with God! 

Silent sunday

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Silent Sunday

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Llm forum 2011

Today was the annual Oxford Diocese LLM Forum, a one day conference for licensed lay ministers. I was part of the planning group and also had a role in today's programme, but mainly wanted to meet up with LLMs I otherwise don't see and to partake in the day.

The subject of today's forum was "Making Disciples"; that being the area of interest for the year in the Diocese.

We started with worship and the reading of the great commission in Matthew. We then thought about how we ourselves have been discipled and disciple others; who discipled us and what our "jewels" of discipleship might be to give others.

We undertook a bible study of Luke 4; looking at how Jesus their sets out his manifesto to bring about social change we also absorbed the fact that through Jesus all are forgiven and will eat at the banquet in heaven.

After lunch we broke into arch-deaconry areas to share the way discipleship is being undertaken in each if our parishes; focussing on the three areas of the diocesan model of discipleship: new beginnings, growth and fruitfulness.

Our final activity was to think about how we might, as LLMs, be actively involved in making disciples and how we can take on the lessons of the day.

My role in the day was the conclusion; the wrap up and send out. what little I wrote to be shared I will now share:

Being a disciple is like being a friend; small steps getting to know someone is all it requires.

We are but conduits for the spirit to act; it acts despite us.

God made us as we are; no more, no less. We are enough to be disciples and make disciples.

Remember often the person who most discipled you, this is what you can be.

Know what brings you to faith each morning, it is that which inspires others.

We are given this gift through grace; let others experience it too.

Through the spirit we are able, because of who Jesus is now!

So what have I taken away; two things:
1 - I am enough (yes, I am reminded again)
2 - I am a conduit for the holy spirit to make disciples; by being me the spirit works

Day 5 of 30

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Day 5 of 30, a day where I was at LLM forum and Mike's in charge with/of Rachel. I came back and they were out, and when they came back they were chatting away super happily. When I'd given Rachel cuddles and heard her tales of the day ....

Me: it looks like you had a great day, it's fab to see you and Rachel having such fun, you've obviously done great today
Mike: yes, I think I have

Nuff said

Friday, 8 April 2011

PCC must vote on women bishops

We had a PCC meeting this week, a really good one; but it has me fearful for the next one especially because I won't be there. At the next pcc meeting in June we must vote on the details of women bishops.

Now I am fully in favour, and most people I know are in favour. But not everyone by any means. And let's face it, even those of us who are happy might well have different ideas of how to manage the change and help those in our church, and others, who don't or can't accept it.

I am sure our PCC will have a mature discussion with facts and thoughts and emotions shared; I think it'll be fantastic. So what's my issue? Mainly that I can't be there and so won't be party to it all. And let's face it, I'd like to share and hear.

I am fascinated by how people who are positive about our female clergy might feel about female bishops, I'm sure there'll be some surprises, who knows.

I will be even more interested in the next PCC voting requirement; the covenant. But I'll leave that for later.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

day 4 of 30

It's the fourth day and so far so good. Today I think I truly shocked Mike. Here is our conversation on the phone:

Mike: Hiya, I got caught up at work and I'm still here
Me: No problem, thanks for ringing to let me know
Mike: errrr, yes, ok, I'll be leaving very soon

I'm liking this :)

Royal Wedding Street Party

I have been trying to drum up support to hold a street party (well actually on a green just behind our house) for the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate. I have had lots of people interested, but no one wishing to help at all or do anything. I have filled in the forms for the council and sent emails to the parks department, but heard nothing. I have bought bunting and flags and all sorts of cheap but fun stuff, but no one seems that bothered.

So I was interested when I saw this article on the BBC about reasons why there are so few royal wedding street parties held. But I think the BBC reporter has missed the point; focussing on reasons such as:
- no interest in royalty
- bureacracy to arrange
- short engagement leaving short planning time
- closeness to Easter and therefore less leave needed for a holiday

However I think the reporter has missed the point. I think the issue is lack of community spirit. When I have spoken to people they are positive, but no one wants to actually be the one doing something for their community, and it needs a team to arrange and hold a street party.

I have no idea if our party will take off, but at the very least there will be a group of us having a picnic and getting together to celebrate; let's hope the weather's as good as today.

Never forget Rwanda


Seventeen years, it hardly seems possible it was that long ago, the memories from the news and the horror and sorrow I felt are as real now as they were then.

But is that true for everyone? Or do most forget?

We must not forget!
We must remember!
And by remembering we will ensure to be vigilant in watching the world to ensure another genocide does not happen.

Today at midday I will be holding a silence in remembrance, please join me.

For more information see the UN website

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Cat Chillax

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Watching Sid tonight, asleep on Mikes knee, I am a little envious of his ability to chillax through the majority of a day. No stresses or worries or job. Lots of cuddles, naps, food and love.

It's not that I don't love my life, I do; but some days it'd be nice to curl up on a knee and sleep like a cat for a few hours.

Who's with me?

day 3 of 30


It's day 3 and there's still a little edge after day 2, but this is about being positive and at lunchtime I discovered that Mike had backed up my computer for me. So I rang and said

"Thanks for backing up my computer Mike, I really appreciate it and it means I don't have to do it tonight."

I think he was genuinely shocked that I thanked him for that, not a great reflection on the number of times I thank him. He seemed pleased and it lifted our mood together some, so perhaps there'll be something in these 30 days.

day 2 of 30


the second day of saying something positive to Mike. well it's not been a great day, one of those when exhaustion and busy lives gets us down. so the best I managed today was......

love you babe

better than nothing, and I definitely meant it.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

How depression looks to me

Lovely readers, I have written an article on my experience of depression as a guest blogger at "no wriggling out of writing" by Suzie.

Her blog is well worth a read and inclusion on your reader, so please stop and browse after you read my story here.

Wikio Measures blogs

I have to say I'm not sure how Wikio measures blogs to get their monthly ranking data, and I am determined not to get hung up on it.


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Wow, I'm in the top 50 UK Christian bloggers, 38th to be precise.

Cool :). I guess perhaps people are reading what I write.

Now to put that out of my head and just keep writing whatever occurs to me.

For more insightful comment and some lovely graphs see Lesleys Blog

When technology fails us

Those of you who follow me on twitter, friend me on facebook or have any chance of being in a meeting with me in the coming months will probably already know this, but just in case......

my computer crashed whilst syncing with my iphone and it has wiped my ENTIRE calendar!!!

Of course this has the up side of cancelling all my appointments, and some of them I would quite like to get out of (eg Dentist).

But the down side out weighs this considerably.
- I now have to go around with my head between my legs like 'the silly girl who forgot to back up' that I am, and that triggers my not good enough feelings.
- I will spend the next few weeks trying to find time to find out where I should be and when, time I don't really have.
- I am running the risk of throwing my iphone out the nearest window and buying a fliofax, neither of which will do me much good.

But hey, I am calm(ish) and can almost see the funny side and "things could be worse".

Monday, 4 April 2011

Step into the Light by Lou Fellingham

After hearing Lou Fellingham at Prom Praise on Saturday night I bought her latest CD, Step into the Light. It is fantastic, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It is uplifting, spiritual, beautiful, catchy (in a good way) and a huge hit with me already.

I would share my favourite track with you if it was on you tube, but it's not, so instead I urge you to go and buy the album because track 4 "My God Cares" is worth the price alone, here are the lyrics:

Life's not always as it seems
a different route from a to b
and the plans you've made come tumbling down
when you're questioning the why
and it's hard to see the light
and you're praying for the wind to change

and though the pain is strong
and its hard to carry on
I know that this is true
My God cares for you
all hope has disappeared
and you're running out of tears
I can tell you He is near
For my God cares for you
yes he cares for you

When no answers can be found
as the waves come crashing down
and you find you're driven to your knees
when you're overwhelmed with fear
and it feels like its been years
you've been asking God please rescue me

dont you know that His arms are strong enough to carry you
lift you up in the safety of His love
Just hold on, He will come, the Lord our God will comfort you
Give you strength enough to see you through the storm

Day 1 of 30

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Yesterday was day 1 of my 30 day challenge to say something positive to Mike.

Here in the UK yesterday was Mothering Sunday. I had a completely wonderful day, was spoiled by Mike and Rachel and even got some time to just veg on the sofa.

And in the evening I turned to Mike

"thanks babe, you made today fabulous."

I know it doesn't sound like much, but it's not often I say thanks any more; it's definitely a start, and that's enough for day 1.

30 day "say something nice to Mike" challenge

I am joining in a challenge which takes my ministry inside my house right to Mike. And no, I'm not going on a mission to convert!

I think nothing of being positive and encouraging and supportive and giving time to anyone who needs it outside the house, and Rachel inside. But I admit it...I don't often give the same time and positivity to Mike. So this month of our 12th wedding anniversary, starting yesterday, I am committing to the challenge set down by LBDDiaries and Pamela at and

Here are the rules:
a) I will make the proclamation 100% positive, no BUTS, HOWEVERS, or ON THE OTHER HAND
b) I won't ask for anything in return
c) I will make him aware of it each day
d) I will also make sure at least one additional person is aware of it each day (hence the blogging)

watch this space.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Greenbelt 2010

I know it's 9 months late, but I have this week booked our tickets for Greenbelt 2011 and tonight was looking for my musings from 2010.

And shock

I know my blog was in dormant phase whilst I completed my portfolios, but even so...

So instead here is the list of things we did:
Greenbelt 10

4 the hub - Photo Flash Swap
6 mainstage - the band with no name
7 Children's registration
8 Soul space - Spiritual Practices for Disturbing Times
935 mainstage - courtney pine

10 - 1230 messy space
10 Galillee - A leader’s growing pains: reflections on the life of Moses
1045 big top - Surviving as a religious minority, can Christians cope?
1130 galillee - Are our churches in breach of Article 12 of the UN rights of the child?
12 till 2 arena - craft and circus skills
1230 pick up kids festival token
1 galillee - On not teaching your grandparents to suck eggs: making disciples today
145 till 415 Children's festival
230 Jerusalem - Scrap Plan A, try Plan be
315 performance cafe - harp for hangovers
350 centaur - foy vance
430 messy space - messy church
540 mainstage - Luke Leighfield
630 till 830 big top - Jesus Hopped the A-Train
OR 7 kids tent - family twist
8 YMCA - little bird told me (new fairy tales by kids)
920 main stage - shed seven

10 main stage - communion
12 Jerusalem - clare short on lobbying
130 galillee - Creating communities of celebration, sustainablity and subversion in the shadow of the empire
230 Jerusalem - the art of looking sideways about God
4 performance cafe - kitty the lion
415 - gallillee New shoes on a well trod path – pioneer ministry and fresh expressions
5 big top - john bell imagine
630 big top - milton jones
7 centaur - creation sings
8 - mainstage - gospel choir
920 mainstage - Beverly knight

9 messy space - play and pray
10 bethlehem - the poor are our masters
11 underground - sounds of salvation
1130 jerusalem - finding the inner room
1230 performance cafe - harry bird and the rubber wellies
215 jerusalem - Jesus my facebook friend
230 galillee - be the change
3 bethlehem - tickling in public
415 bethlehem - the secret life of human beings
430 big top - arun ghosh
5 youth shelter - taize style prayer
530 the hub - Photo Flash Swap
6 performance cafe - dodge brothers
7 kids area - family twist
8 ymca - a little bird told me (fairy tales by kids)

And the synopsis is
A spiritual fill up
A laugh
A true weekend of fellowship

And .... Here we come Greenbelt 2011

We are blind without Christ

The lectionary today is John 9:1-41; the story of Jesus' healing of the blind man.

I am always struck by verse 2

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this [blindness] happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

And then by verse 39

Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."

So are we blind or do we see?
I would say we are blind; we turn our eyes from things we choose not to change, we think we see but we have a narrow window. It is only through Christ in our life and eyes that we truly see and are moved to action.



When I say Serenity what comes to your mind?

Is it the film? I know it is for a large number of my friends.

Or perhaps the idea of a perfect spa day get away? We can dream right.

Or is it the prayer? It is for me and for many others I know.
And for us, here it is:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Intercessions for Mothering Sunday

Loving God, heavenly Father, today we thank you for all mothers in the world, for all that that they do, all they give and all they are. We also thank you for all those who look after, care for, nurture and love us as a mother.

We know that today can be a difficult time; bringing hurt, grief and perhaps anger to some hearts. We pray that you will draw alongside those who are hurting today to comfort them and surround them with your tender care.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

We pray especially today for women who are unable to hold their own children; for mothers who grieve their children who have died; and for mothers who are worried or afraid for their child’s well-being or safety.

We ask you Father, to bring healing, comfort, forgiveness and peace into the hearts and minds of hurting mothers.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

We bring before you children who have lost their mother through illness, accident or violence; for children who now live away from their mothers so they can receive love and care; for children who live in homes that are unsafe and for children who live in hardship or poverty.

We ask you Father, to bring love and security, courage and hope into the lives of children who are hurting today.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

Father, today in particular we ask for your healing and forgiveness in the lives of all suffering memories of broken relationships and loss. Help us all to find in the brothers and sisters of Christ a loving family with whom we may show your love and tender care for all your hurting children.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

Lord, father, we thank you for the blessing of your mother church; for the acceptance, nurturing, love and care it provides to all who seek.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

Loving God, trusting in your promise to hear us when we pray in faith, we ask you to bless all our relationships in the families of our homes, our church and our communities so that through our lives your loving will for us may be done.

Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Prom praise 2011

Prom Praise 2011

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Here is the Royal Albert Hall's selling pitch:

"Prom Praise is a exciting blend of sacred and concert music, a joyful fusion of performance and worship.  Over recent years, conductor Noel Tredinnick and the All Souls Orchestra have been developing a working partnership with popular singer and worship leader, Lou Fellingham, and we are delighted to welcome her to the Royal Albert Hall for the first time.  We have also enjoyed a number of collaborations with soprano, Sarah Vander Ploeg who will also be making a Royal Albert Hall debut.  A massed choir is again gathering from all over the UK and beyond representing the many choirs and singers who join the All Souls Orchestra in Prom Praise events around the UK and beyond.   The evening will be co-hosted by Rico Tice."

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And here is my prom praise review; written on the coach trip home with the rest of the happy singers from our church.

Dancing, singing, worshiping and loving; that about sums up prom praise 2011 for me.  I danced to hymns old and new, sung my heart out till I coughed, worshipped our Lord Jesus with body and soul, and loved every second.

The All Souls Orchestra was as spectacular as ever especially the horn section.  The international prom praise mass choir was fabulouso, and I'm pretty sure I spotted a fellow LLM.   The Canadian opera singer Sarah was wonderful, especially with her rendition as Juliet.  But the stars of the music show for me were Phatfish led by Lou Fellingham; AMAZING music, lyrics and delivery (and yes, I bought a cd).

Of course there are the two essential leaders of prom praise; Noel (conductor) and Rico (Pastor).  From these two men the 4500 strong congregation absorbed the Gospel and felt the Spirit at work.

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I cannot end this review without mentioning the fact that Prom Praise was the centre of our trip today, it has filled me anew ready for the weeks ahead.  But so has the fellowship in the coach on the way, play in the park with the kids, chatting in the interval and being a true church family on the way home.  It is the whole package that will stat with me. 
Christ amongst us.

Friday, 1 April 2011

I've never felt oppressed at church

I was reading this article in the Guardian about feminism and the reducing number of feminists who associate with a world religion.

I was fascinated until ....

All religion oppresses women

I'm sorry?
I'm no feminist, but I'd know if I was being oppressed and that is certainly not happening in my local church, or in the wider church I have come across.

So lovely female readers; do you feel oppressed by religion?