Monday, 31 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 26

Doing Justice is the title of today's meditation (Sunday March 30th).
To do justice is the Lord's requirement of us, according to the prophet. Few of us would argue with that. The problem is that it isn't always easy to discern how to do justice.
Even when injustice is absolutely clear and we deplore it, it can be dificult to see how to do justice.
Humility, mercy and grace have to be our companions because only when we walk humbly and love mercy can we, with the grace of God begin to find the way to do justice.
When I know little about a situation or the people involved, issues can seem very clear and well defined. Often (not always) as I learn more, listen more and hear more it becomes less clear. Then I need humility and then I need to pray
...take me there kindly,
that my footsteps might be
mercy and grace,
mercy and grace,
mercy and grace,
mercy and grace,
mercy and grace,
for ever and ever and ever.
Mercy and grace for ever.
          (Doing Justice, Stephen Cherry)

Lord, help me to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you, relying on your grace and seeking to go kindly, day by day by day.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 25

Loving the unlovely in others is difficult.
Loving the unlovely in others is so much easier than loving the unlovely in myself.

(Very brief reflection in reponse to Unlovely by Stephen Cherry in Barefoot Prayers)

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Smiles, pride, tears and anger

Yesterday I visited Shrewsbury Shared Care. This is an Action for Children project which provides short term residential care for disabled children and young people. This is home for the young people during their short stays. Each room is specially prepared for the individual needs and preferences of the young person who will be staying in it and the whole environment is prepared every day for those who willbe living there.
The staff welcomed us warmly and as they spoke it was very clear that they knew the children well and were highly professional. Before we left the children arrived and this small group of chidren with special needs were welcomed home, each in the way appropriate to them so that they felt secure and safe.
The garden is designed in such a way that those who need space to be on their own, focusing on just one thing, can do so. It is full of colour and interest with play areas and quiet spaces.
The sensory room was prepared and was a place where the children could find relaxation.
All these things made me proud that the Methodist Church is associatedwith Action for Children and the wonderful work it does here, in so many other places and in the community; working for as long as it takes to help and support children.
I smiled when the children smiled. They smiled and laughed because they were secure. They smiled because they had come to their home from home.

But I also found myself near to tears and deeply angry.
We were told that, at 18 the children would be transferred to adult care services. For these children it is extremely important that this transition is handled carefully and a few years ago the process would begin a year or 18 months before their 18th birthday. Gradually they came to know the people and the places that would provide their adult care and so the transition worked well.
Now it is different. It is not that the needs of the young people have changed. The funding has. 'Austerity' has meant that there have been staff cuts and so transition is now quick and young people feel insecure and their families uncertain of the future as the eighteenth birthday approaches.
As I was told about the young lady who neared her 18th birthday not knowing what would be provided for her nex She was told at short notice that she was to go for a week-end to a safe but strange and unfamiliar new place with caring but unknown people to care for her. I was close to tears. And as the conversation continued and I heard more about the way in which this very vulnerable group of people are the victims of 'cuts' I was angry.

Why is it that it is the most needy and vulnerable who are affected most often?
This is wrong.

'They who... push the afflicted out of the way' were condemned by the prophet Amos for failing to recognise the requirements of a loving and just God.(Amos 2:7).
It was not right then and it is not right now.

Thank God for the work of Action for Children.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 24

'I am disappointed with you'.
Words spoken by a friend or loved one. 
Words that cut to the core.
Words speak of pain caused to others.
Words that rebuke me.

How often God must be disappointed with me.

And yet- and yet
God reaches out in love
God meets me where I am
God offers new hope.

Thank God.

(Reflection based on Disappointment, Stephen Cherry - Barefoot Prayers)

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 23 'I hate, I despise your festivals'

I hate, I despise your festivals,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 
(Amos 5:21)

Hate is such a strong word, such an emotive word. It is a word that makes me recoil. It is a word that shocks. It is a word that is not to be used lightly.

Yet here, in scripture; here in the prophecy of Amos hatred is attributed to God.
How can God hate festivals and solemn assemblies?
How can God refuse to accept the offerings of the people?
How can God refuse to listen to songs and the melody of the harp in worship?

These verses (Amos 5:21-23) are shocking.This is not what we expect God to say about worship and religious festival.

God takes no delight in these things, God hates and despises them because they have become empty ritual. They are empty because justice and righteousness have been forgotten. They are empty because they are rituals performed by people who despise others, who treat them as less than human, who allow them to go hungry in a land of plenty.

Let justice flow down like waters
and righteousness like an everlasting stream
(Amos 5:24)

Perhaps we too need to be shocked by the recognition that when we turn away from righteousness, we turn away from God.
Perhaps we too need to be shocked by the recognition that injustice and the neglect of those who are hungry and in need, is unacceptable to God.

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 22 Emptiness

Today the meditation is challenging. In 'Emptiness' Stephen Cherry describes that weariness which means I have nothing to give.
This is the desert experience.
This is the realisation of inadequacy.
This is being forced to remember that I cannot do it all myself.

And the prayer that is offered is not the plea to be filled.
That would be too tiring, to exhausting, too much.

The prayer that is offered is the request for a blessing.
For blessing of the weariness, the tiredness, the inadequacy.
It is a prayer for mercy.
It is a prayer for patience.

In the annual Covenant Service, Methodist people pray:
     Your will be done
     when I am valued
     and when I am disregarded;
     when I find fulfilment
     and when it is lacking;
     when I have all things,
     and when I have nothing...

It is not an easy prayer.
It reminds us of our mortality.
It reminds us that we may be set aside.
It reminds us that we might be empty.

But in all this we trust in God's promises and rely on God's grace.

 'He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me' (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So I pray in the words of Stephen Cherry:
'Give me the patience to live
by your grace
at your pace'

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 21 Lonely

I remember the first weeks in grammar school.
I was lonely.

In the village primary school I had known everyone. I was secure in the village where I had always lived. I knew the lanes, the woods, the downs. I understood the changing seasons, the rhythm of liffe on the local farms. I rode my bike for miles around the country lanes, sometimes alone but never lonely.
I belonged here.

But the hour-long bus ride to the city separated me from all that was familiar.
No-one else from the village went to the grammar school in the city.
The class was half the size of my primary school, the year group was twice as big.
Everyone else seemed to have their friends, to know their place.
The break times were interminable. They were times to wander aimlessly; lonely but feigning a purpose that didn't exist. Sitting on the school field pretending to be waiting for some-one.

After the eternity of loneliness I fell into belonging. I made friends. I walked with purpose. I flourished.

How easy it is to be comfortable in belonging and blind to those who are lonely in the friendly crowd.

I pray that I will be aware and that my belonging will not be exclusive.

(Reflection inspired by Loneliness - Stephen Cherry)

From the eastern coast to the source of the North Tyne

My visit to the Newcastle Upon Tyne District began on March 15th when the Chair of District, Revd Leo Osborn, accompanied me to Milfield Methodist Church in the Lindisfarne Circuit. The coffee morning is normally held during the week but they were holding it on Saturday so that I could meet people from this part of rural Northumberland. We had a good time together and people joined us from the surrounding villages.

The Circuit had recently been part of Together in Mission, a Mission initiative in the District co-ordinated by Rev Elaine Lindridge, District Evangelism Enabler. They had exciting stories to tell about the way in which they have been energised for mission - as one person said, "We realised that we had to get on with it and do something if we think it is important."

Caroline told me about her call to preach which had resulted from "Together Mission" - it was something she just couldn't resist, and the circuit has seen a number of new Local Preachers recently. There was a real buzz of excitement here.

We travelled on to Bamburgh and as we crossed the hills towards the coast I had a view of Holy Island, a place that is special to me, as it is to many others. But this was the closest I would get to Holy Island on this occasion.
The Chair of District points to Bamburgh Castle - it would make a good manse!
In Bamburgh we visited the Grace Darling Museum. Grace was the daughter of the lighthouse keeper who played a major part in the rescue of the Forfarshire which was shipwrecked in September 1838 on the treacherous rocks near Longstone Lighthouse. Longstone was the outermost lighthouse on the Farne Islands which can still be visited today. You can read the story of Grace Darling here
We also visited Grace Darling's tomb in St Aidan's churchyard.
With Revd Pauline Fellows at Grace Darling's tomb
I was invited to lunch in Bamburgh with members of the Circuit Leadership Team and here again I heard personal testimony as people spoke of their faith and of the way in which they have experienced renewal.

In the afternoon we were at Seahouses Methodist Church where I preached in a Circuit Celebration which included the rededication of the church after recent refurbishment. The church was packed. The celebration was led by the Minister, Revd Pauline Fellows and began as the young people from the Girls Brigade came in with candles (artificial ones) to represent the light of Christ in the church.

The girls also sang for us with Pauline accompanying them on the guitar.
The cake was cut by George dawson, a retired fisherman who was the first person to be baptised in this church when it opened in 1926.

Cutting the cake

Along the gallery are hung life-buoys from fishing boats - the names linked to the Christian faith and the Methodist tradition.
The names of the fishing boats are John Wesley, Providence, Childrens Friend and Good Fellowship
The refurbishment here included a new, spacious and welcoming entrance area with facilities for serving tea and coffee in a prominent place on the main street in Seahouses, The new window was designed and made locally and reminds everyone passing by of the inheritance of this area.
Here is a circuit where there is a real and renewed heart for mission and where the churches are fully engaged in the community and relating to their context. Of course, it isn't all easy but what people were talking about here was transformed lives and hope for the future.
With Pauline, Gerald, and Leo outside Seahouses Methodist Church
Pauline with one of the Church members
As we travelled back to Newcastle we called to see Carla and Juan Quenet and their new daughter Anaya Rosa, just 8 days old. It was really good to spend some time with them and, of course, to hold Anaya.

On Sunday we went to visit the Tynedale Circuit and in the morning I preached in Haltwhistle Methodist Church. I was welcomed by the Superintendent Minister, Revd Tom Quenet. It was good to see Tom again, he had arranged my visit to Bolivia last year when he was Co-ordinating Secretary for the Caribbean and  America. Tom spoke of the strength of the community in Haltwhistle and the church is ideally positioned in the centre of the town.
Briefly in Scotland
We then travelled north to Kielder and for a few minutes I was in the Scotland District! On land farmed by the family of Fiona Hall, a Methodist member, is the source of the North Tyne. Very recently a plinth has been erected here to mark the place and we walked to it meeting Fiona's husband, Jimmy who was out working with their sheep. This is border country, it is beautiful and remote and Fiona says that the people in the borders relate to one another, across the border, as a distinct community. We prayed at the source of the North Tyne for the communities that live and work in these valleys.
With Jimmy, Eddie, Deacon Anne, Fiona, Revds Leo and Tom at the source of the North Tyne
Deacon Anne Taylor lives and works in this northern part of the circuit and she and Fiona took us to visit Kielder Methodist and URC Church as we began our journey down the valley. Services are held monthly here in the chapel that was given to the community by the Duke of Northumberland.
Kielder Castle

The next destination was Kielder Castle. Built as a hunting lodge for the Dukes of Northumberland this is the visitor centre for Kielder Water and Forest Park.
Gathering for worship
Over 100 people gathered for worship in one of the rooms here.
The worship band

A worship band led us in the singing and we heard from one of the National Forest staff about the conservation work and the industry of the forest. This is the place in England where you can see red squirrels but it is also a working forest and important for the life of this area.
Kielder Water is the largest artificial reservoir in Northern Europe and was opened in 1981 although it took two years for the reservoir to fill. Numerous farms and a school were lost when the land was flooded.
It was appropriate that the theme for our worship was water and I reflected on this theme in conversation with the Chair of District.

In this service I was also asked to present a number of long-service certificates to Local Preachers. I always enjoy this opportunity to present certificates which I signed last year, not knowing who would receive them. It is good to be able to thank Local Preachers who give so much to the Methodist Church as they respond to God's call in their lives.

From Monday to Wednesday I was with Presbyters and Deacons from the Newcastle Upon Tyne, Cumbria, Darlington and Scotland Districts who have been in ordained ministry for up to 10 years. I was leading a retreat for them and it was a rich time of sharing together. As always, I will not blog any details of the retreat as these are times and places of confidentiality and are safe spaces.

This is the view from the room where we met at Shepherd's Dene in Riding Mill.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 20

Thank you God that as a Christian I do not have to deny my body and my humanity. I can rejoice in my senses, my sensuality, and every aspect of my human experience. I can receive and give hugs. I can enjoy food and drink. I can enjoy the exhilaration and challenge of climbing Snowdon or of tandem paragliding. I can exult in a hot shower and relax in a bubble bath. I can remember the smell of roses in the summer and of my babies after bathtime.

Thank you God that in Jesus you have shared my humanity. You too rejoice in senses and sensuality. You know the comfort of touch, the satisfaction of a good meal, the joy of the company of friends. You remember the smells of childhood, the sound of wood being sawn and planed and the taste of olives.

Thank you God that when I am in pain you know what it is to feel your flesh burn and your bones ache. When I am grieving, you know what it is to weep for lost friends, to cry yourself to sleep.When I am desolated you know what it is to be lonely, betrayed and lost.

Thank you God that when I face death, I know that you have been there before me and will accompany me.

You have reached down into the depths. You have come to me so that I can glimpse your glory, I can know you because you have first known me.

This is bodily grace.

(Response to Bodies -Stephen Cherry)

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 19

Let me be mindful of mental dust (Stephen Cherry - Mindful)

What is mental dust?
It is the fine and fragile stuff. The thoughts and ideas so eeasily hidden under things that seem so much more important and that are so demanding.

I am reminded of the dessert served in a restaurant last week. An apple Galette served with vanilla ice-cream on a plate dusted with icing sugar. It was delicious. The galette and ice-cream were the largest items, they took the attention. The icing sugar was in the background, apparently unimportant, mere decoration but the taste of it flavoured the whole dish. The dessert would not have been the same without the dusting of icing sugar.

The mental dust can often be in the background, hardly noticed but essential.

Often I need to look beyond the obvious things demanding my attention to recognise the important things lying beneath.

This week I will make a real effort to be mindful of the mental dust.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 18

Sunset in Saltburn
How easy it is to wish that more could have been achieved in a day.
How often I wish that things could have been different.
Stephen Cherry, in his meditation Evensong, reminds us of the missed opportunities and the regrets we might have as the day ends.

One part of evening prayer and reflection is to recognise the moments in the day when I have fallen short, the moments when I have turned my face away from God to self. I recognise and remember these moments and offer them to God in penitence.

I pray that I will do better tomorrow.

At the end of the day I also give thanks for the moments when I have been aware of the presence of God. I givethanks for the moments when I have, with God's help, found the right words.
I give thanks for the generosity, love and graciousness of others - there has been much of that today.

As the day ends, I am at peace because it ends, as it began, with God.

           Give us, we pray, our daily rest,
           that we might live tomorrow better than today.
           But teach us, first, to say that while not perfect,
           this day was, in the end, okay.
                                                      (Evensong, Stephen Cherry)

Friday, 21 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 17

I read words about thanks given for holiday.
I struggle to connect.
The last 24 hours have not been holiday.
They have been full.
Full of the expected and the unexpected.
How can I relate to recollections of holiday?

But it has been a holy day.
A day in which friends have been alongside.
A day in which others have assisted.
A day in which questions have been answered.

So I give thanks for this holy day
in which I have glimpsed the glory
of the Word made flesh.
The glory of God with me
on this non-holiday holy day.

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 16

'The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head'.
Without a home.
Without the security of accumulated stuff.
Without the favourite chair.
Without the walls, roof and space of home.

The Word of God
Among the homeless.

He was despised and rejected.

And even there
He was
He is
God with us.

(In response to Moving House by Stephen Cherry)

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 15

Words are powerful.
The rhyme says 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me' - it is not so.

Words can hurt.
The cruel word devastates me.
The scornful word diminishes me.
The neglectful word desolates me.
The word that is needed but not spoken causes hurt and confusion by its very absence. Absence inviting speculation.

Words can hurt and words can heal.
The kind word heals me.
The encouraging word builds me up.
The caring word comforts me.
The word that is offered at the moment of need affirms and supports.

Lord, may my words and my silence be timely and appropriate. Through my words may others feel blessed and in my silence may there be peace.

(In response to Speaking Day by Stephen Cherry)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 14

Today has been a listening day.
Listening has been a privilege.
Listening has been challenging.
Listening has been sustaining.
The Spirit has brooded over all.

Now I am tired.
Now I must sleep.
When my children were small, I would go into their bedrooms when they were sleeping and listen to their quiet breathing.
Tonight I will sleep secure in the knowledge that God is listening to my every breath.

(Reflection inspired by Listening Day, a meditation written by Stephen Cherry)

Monday, 17 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 13

A time of peace at the end of the day.
It has been a good day.
Driving through beautiul countryside on the way to a retreat house in Northumberland. The sun was shining, the dips and mounds of the hills picked out by the light.
Lunch was nourishing, soup and sandwiches with new friends before the preparation for the retreat.
The gathering of presbyters and deacons, friends meeting up, laughter and shared concerns.
Praying together.
Singing together.
Sharing grace.
And now a comfortable bed and time to reflect.
Time to ask where I have glimpsed God in this and to give thanks.
Time to say sorry for the moments when I have been careless of grace.
Time to pray for a peaceful night.

May this moment be refreshing;
         a time of real progressing;
             a rich and real blessing;
                  a daily cup of peace.
(Coffee Break, Stephen Cherry)

Lighten our darkness Lord, we pray,
and in your mercy 
defend us from all perils and dangers of this night,
For the sake of your son,
our saviour,
Jesus Christ.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 12

'On receiving thanks' is the title of today's meditation. (Barefoot Prayers by Stephen Cherry).

Today I have been thanked.

I have spent the day in the Newcastle Upon Tyne District of the Methodist Church.
I preached in Milfield Church and then I was given lunch before going to Kielder. We walked to the source of the North Tyne and there we prayed for all those communities through which the river flowed.
Later in the afternoon over 100 people gathered in Kielder Castle for an act of worship and I enjoyed the privilege of presenting long service certificates to several Local Preachers.

I have had a really good day.

People have thanked me for being there - I hope I have received the thanks graciously.

I thank God for the gifts I have received today.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Glimpes of Glory in Lent - Day 11

This morning I am leaving early to visit the Newcastle Upon Tyne District. I am going north, past the Angel and on to the Lindisfarne Circuit. I will be visiting Millfield, Bamburgh and Seahouses. I will meet many people and see many things.  I expect to glimpse the glory of God today.

So this morning I pray the Litany for a New Day (Barefoot Prayers, Stephen Cherry) and end with the words:

"That we may be given the vision to glimpse your glory and to see signs of your love.
Lord of the dawn: Shine on your world."

Friday, 14 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 10

The reflection in Barefoot Prayers today is about finding God in those dull and predictable days.
This day had been planned but it certainly wasn't dull.
Today I have been at a meeting of the Enabling Group of Churches Together in England.
Representatives from different traditions meeting in fellowship together, praying together and studying scripture together - this was never going to be dull or wholly predictable.
It is my privilege to meet with these friends twice a year. Of course we don't agree about everything. Of course there are times when the discussion is difficult. But we respect each other, we listen to one another and we glimpse something of the glory of God in one another and in our sharing.

Today I have been blessed.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 9

Conversational blessing
The day began with the words, 'May this day be blessed'
Now there is time for reflection
- time to look back on the day
- time to glimpse the blessing.

I have talked with many people today and been blessed in the conversations.
Blessing is not always easy, not always comfortable.

Blessing has to be received and that means being open to change
- open to challenge
- open to disruption
- open to the movement of the Spirit
- open to renewal
- open to comfort
- open to God.

And there have been words of friendship
- words of encouragement
- expressions of joy at contact made
- conversations ending with a benediction.

This day has been blessed
I pray that I have been part of the blessing.

Reflection based on 'May This Day Be Blessed' - Barefoot Prayers, Stephen Cherry

A centenary celebrated in Great Ayton

On Sunday March 9th Great Ayton Methodist Church celebrated a centenary. At 9.30 we worshipped together in a service of Holy Communion then at 10.45 the second service of the day was a contemporary service of thanksgiving. Two very different styles of worship but one church and one God.

Here are some pictures from the day:

The music group and Rev Catherine Hutton
The congregation at the second service
 In the evening there was to be service of confirmation - 5 young people were being confirmed and they had planned and would lead the worship. Four of them were in this group who led part of the worship in the morning:
 In the morning services we praised God for all that is past  but our focus was on what is now and what is to come. In Great Ayton they are following their own lectionary and at the moment they are working through Mark's Gospel. On Sunday I was asked to preach on Mark 2:1-17. We focused on the reaction of the people when Jesus healed the man brought to him by his friends and let down through the roof. The people were amazed and glorified God. The prayer is that all that the church in Great Ayton is and does will point people towards God so that they might be amazed at what God has done for them.

Discipleship, art and worship - Hertfordshire & the Wirral

The week beginning March 3rd was filled with a variety of good things and I was busy experiencing them so had little time to blog, but here is a belated account.
Anna Mallender speaking

Daleep invites us to buzz
On Monday March 3rd I went to High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire to join Lay employees at the Connecting Disciples Conference. What followed were 3 days (I had to leave before the end) of worship, conversation, learning and sharing in the company of committed, talented, fun-loving followers of Jesus Christ - what could be better? I really hope and pray that more lay employees will take the opportunity to share in this gift from the Methodist Church and that Circuits and Districts will encourage lay employees to attend and finance this for them. We are a lay-led church and these people are hugely important to us. Daleep and I were both invited to address the conference and there was input from a wide range of others. This really is something not to be missed.
Miriam leading worship
Barbara, the Director of Education and Jude Levermore
On Wednesday I travelled on to Ellesmere Port where the town is hosting its first ever Arts Festival. This was Ash Wednesday and so I preached in the service in Trinity Methodist Church. Revd Jim Booth (Chair of District) and Revd Christine Jones (Minister of Trinity MC) also shared in the service and we gathered among some of the paintings from the Methodist Collection of Modern Art. Seeing Jim presiding in front of Jacques Iselin's painting, 'The Elements of the Holy Communion'  was a very significant and moving part of the worship for me. You can see the painting here:

The rest of the collection is being displayed in other community buildings: West Chesire College, University Church of England Academy, and the Paperboat gallery. All these are places that have been part of the community renaissance in recent years. 

Earlier in the afternoon, Steve  Cooper (Circuit Manager) and I had visited the Paperboat Gallery This is a gallery which also runs a programme of courses and workshops.  The owner, Sonja Moss-Dolega welcomed us in and we saw how she has arranged the items in the shop to complement the paintings from the collection. Among the items on sale are clay cats made by members of the Wirral Association for the Blind and Partially Sighted at Ashville Lodge. In this photograph you can see Sonja with some of her own work and with exhibits from the Art Collection in the background.

We also visited West Cheshire College where the paintings are hung in part of the main reception area.

On Thursday morning I visited two of the MHA residential facilities in Ellesmere Port. Mayfields is a dementia care home and we were welcomed and shown around by the Manager, Josie. The care that is given and the respect afforded to each resident was very evident and Mayfields also hosts a Live at Home scheme. One of the lounges is in the process of being transformed into a 1940s room, a place which will be comfortingly familiar to some who live here. This picture shows Josie and Steve in the 1940s room.

We also saw the music room, music therapy is an important part of the life of residents.

 Another room is a salon where residents can have their hair done and nails painted. In one of the lounges a pupil from a local school, on work experience, was painting the nails of some of the ladies. Students from the art department in the college are going to provide some pictures for the corridors.

Next door to Mayfields is The Hawthorns, a residential facility that also offers care. I was welcomed by Nick (The Assistant Manager) and Suzanne, the chaplain. We joined some of the residents for the weekly coffee morning. Among them was Mary, whose husband, Bill had been a Methodist Minister. Mary and Bill had lived in China and Sierra Leone before returning to Britain. Mary is also a talented artist and outside her flat there was a beautiful Madonna that she has carved.

Here, I was presented with a portrait of myself which had been done from a photograph by Betsie. Betsie is one of the residents and also an artist. This is a gift I will treasure.

Steve and I went on to Claremount Road Methodist Church in Wallasey where I was able to meet with many of the Supernumerary Ministers in the District. It is always a pleasure and a privilege to share with colleagues in this way.

Thursday evening was the official opening of the Arts Festival, which has been called 'Along the Way'. The launch took place in Trinity Church, Ellesmere Port. The church was packed. People were looking at the paintings  and then we heard the community choir including people of all ages (specially formed for this occasion) sing 'Anthem for the Port', specially written for Ellesmere Port last year.  I was invited to welcome everyone and launch the festival, Revd Graham Kent (Secretary to the methodist Collection of modern Art) gave an introduction to the collection and a local councillor, Pat Merrick, sent us 'Along the Way'.
 Trinity has recently been refurbished and has been transformed into a welcoming place for the whole community in the centre of Ellesmere Port. There was no better place to host this event for the whole community.

On Friday I went from Ellesmere Port to Hinsley Hall in Leeds where I was attending the Faith and Order Committee, of which I am a member. My week finished with theology and work that is vital for the Church in a building that was once one of our training colleges (Headingley) and is now owned and run by the Catholic Church as a Conference and retreat centre. We shared in communion together on Saturday morning when I was invited to preach. After lunch I returned to Darlington and to an evening with colleagues in the North East as we welcomed new Church Leaders among us.

It was a busy week and a week full of those glimpses of glory revealed through many different people and in many different places.  

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 8

'Help me focus my attention, my
time, my energy where it can
be most effective.'

(Stephen Cherry in Barefoot Prayers)

Now that's a word I need to hear.
I am very good at finding 100 things to do which put off doing the main thing, the important thing.
In the wilderness, Jesus focused on the important thing.
There are endless tasks clamouring to be done - some of them must wait.
Help me to discern the priorities.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 7

'Keep me open-minded
Keep me in mind'
(Important Commission - Stephen Cherry)

These two lines from today's meditation in 'Barefoot Prayers' have remained with me all day. I have been reflecting on the link made between being kept in God's mind and being open-minded. Is it because I am held by God that I am able to look beyond myself to others and take seriously their ideas and opinions.

I remember the first time I had enough confidence to jump off a diving board into a swimming pool. I did it because the PE teacher had the patience to encourage me and stay with me, even to hold my hand as I jumped.

I can risk being open to others because I am held safely by God.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 6

'How happy are those who see the dawn; those for whom night is gone' (Psalm of the Dawn by Stephen Cherry in Barefoot Prayers)
Early morning sunlight on Sark
 I read these words this morning. Later in the day I was one of those at a funeral service for a man of great faith, one who has been amuch loved leader in the Methodist Church. Whilst acknowledging loss, it was a service full of hope, the hope of resurrection.

This evening the prayers in the Mission Council of the United Reformed Church began with the words:
'May the Lord Almighty, grant you a quiet night and a perfect end.'

And so I go to bed, trusting in God, whose glory I have glimpsed today, light overcoming darkness.

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - Day 5

On Sunday (day 5) Great Ayton Methodist Church celebrated its centenary. 
Here are some young people who led part of the worship. This evening they will be confirmed along with one other young person - what a great way to celebrate - what a glimpse of glory!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Glimpses of glory in Lent - Day 4

Today I spent time with colleagues - some I know well and some are new friends.
I talked with a stranger on the train.
I came home after several days away.

'Giving attention to someone unknown' opens up new possibilities.

Stephen Cherry's poem, 'Hospitality', reminds me that when I am befriended by Christ I am made ready to befriend others and to be befriended by them.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Glimpses of glory in Lent - Day 3

'You are the bread of life.
I trust you to feed me with a
to fill me with the smallest

These are the last 2 lines of the poem for today in Stephen Cherry's book, 'Barefoot Prayers'.
They have been in my mind all day.

Nothing spectacular has happened today - or has it?
I was driven to the station by my host for the last 2 nights. He and his wife have given me space, food and rest; unobtrusively they have cared for me.
People have offered to carry my heavy suitcase - people I don't know, people who have noticed.
I have spent the afternoon and evening in a meeting with colleagues, in the context of prayer, sharing work and laughter, companionship and conversation.
I have eaten good food.
I have a comfortable bed to sleep in.

'You fill me with the smallest crumb'.

'Your grace is sufficient for me.'

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Glimpses of Glory in Lent - day 2

Today I visited Mayfields in Ellesmere Port. This is a dementia care home run by Methodist Homes for the Aged (MHA). Here I met people who care deeply for those suffering from dementia and I met residents who were being enabled to live life as fully as possible and to continue to make their own choices even when that is very difficult.

I think of the words from Stephen Cherry's poem for today, 'Breath of God'

Breath of God,
be my life this day;
be my compassion.
Breath of God,
be my connection with your
places of distress and darkness;
with your places of despair and desolation.

I glimpsed glory in Mayfields - a place of compassion and connection, a place where God's breath flows.

'Sir, we want to see Jesus'

I was in London on February 22nd and back in Methodist Central Hall Westminster as a guest of Methodist Women in Britain. It was the day of one of the meetings of the forum and representatives gathered from around Britain. I had been invited to lead the opening worship and share something of my experience so far this year. After the worship I was able to stay for the rest of the morning and heard about some of the things MWiB is doing and involved in including the many ways in which they support, and are engaged in mission. It was good to meet with old and new friends and to catch something of the energy and excitement of MWiB.

On Monday February 24th I travelled to Amport House near Andover to meet another group of people, this time it was the Methodist chaplains who serve in the forces. Revd Heather Morris, the President of the Irish Conference was also there and on the final day we shared in leading the communion service which was a great joy. I had been invited to lead two sessions during the conference and was to join the chaplains in the other sessions and during the free time. I am deeply impressed by this group of people who help those in very difficult places to glimpse God's glory. In theiir initial training, the chaplains have to doth same physical training as other recruits, it is tough and often painful and it is truly incarnational.

Penhurst Rereat Centre
From Amport House I travelled to Battle and stayed for 2 nights in a Penhurst retreat Centre. It is a beautiful and peaceful place.  I had space both to work and to rest and was spiritually nourished and refreshed.

View from the dining room

View through my window

Penhurst Parish Church is next to the centre. when the preacher climbs the steps into the the pulpit s/he reads a plaque on the wallwhich says 'Sir, we want to see Jesus'. What an appropriate  reminder!
The congregation want to glimpse God's glory.
From the porch ofthe church
Penhurst Parish Church

'Sir, we want to see Jesus'
Just a few miles from Penhurst is Ashburnham Place where, on Friday I met the staff and students of the South East Institute for Theological Education (SEITE). There are just 3 Methodist students on the course and I was able talk with them. I led a session on the Friday evening and worshipped with SEITE before leaving on Saturday morning. Worship was being led by the Methodist Students who were exploring the theme of covenant in preparation for a Covenant Service on the Sunday.

It was a varied week- full of glimpses of God, as always.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Glimpses of glory in Lent

I am going to try to post a glimpse of glory every day in Lent. The may be very brief and because I am human I may miss the occasional day. I am going to include Sundays although they are festival days and so there should be more than 40 glimpses if all goes well!

So Day 1:
This morning began with prayers led by Tony Moodie at High Leigh where I have been sharing with lay employees in the annual Connecting Disciples conference. In this group of people, in their commitment, their spirituality, their experience and in conversations with them I have glimpsed glory.