Sorrow and joy: where was God?

Izzy, snaggle toothed cat
On February 17th, I excitedly started a Direct Access course. Four days, to learn how to ride a motorcycle properly - and although the end goal would be to upgrade to a bigger bike, the primary reason is just to be able to burn those horrible L plates. I took to it well, too: not to suggest I'm better than others as I've certainly lots to learn - but as the four days progressed, I was doing it all right in practice. Tuesday 20th, and my Mod1 test. This is a manoeuvres and manual control part of the test and it started perfectly: that is, until my hand slipped on the clutch for the contro...

It’s so easy NOT to lose your head

Helen Parry of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity considers the example of John the Baptist With thanks to the resources of And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. Mark 6:26-29 There are ...

Keeping up with the Jones’s

Flame Lilly
A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms. Zen Shin How are you getting on then: are you where you want to be? That plan you'd laid for yourself all of those years back: has that come to fruition? Have you been looking at those you grew up with - and find yourself feeling as if you might not be doing quite as well as they have? I know I've felt like that from time to time. Reading the posts on Facebook of those I knew at school, to see the new BMW they've bought can make me jealous. To read they've just come back from another holiday abroad brings...


For the January edition of the parish magazine, one of the newest members of our choir shared with me a number of creative writings she had done, covering the seasons.  As I look outside at a line of naked trees against a cold, grey sky, I thought it would be good to share here also, whilst we're still in the clutches of winter. By Rebecca Rickaby Silently the traveller sweeps through the great door. His boots muffled on the thick matting as he stamps his feet; knocking off the mud. Relieved of his heavy, black, fur lined cloak, trimmed with silver, He sits, his boots drawn off by willing ...

Saints before us

If you’ve ever looked at a church calendar, you’ll no doubt be surprised at the number of saints remembered for dates throughout the year. This Sunday, the 21st, remembers two saints who have come before us specifically: Meinrad - victim of grievous bodily harm The more things change, the more they remain the same - and you could read Meinrad’s story today in the newspapers of any large city. He was born near Wurtemberg of a free peasant family, and became a monk at Reichenau (Switzerland). In 829 he moved to Einsiedeln to be a hermit, where he lived quietly for the next 25 years. Then one ...

Eye of the Needle

When an author wants to reinforce a point, they'll repeat it. If it's important, the Bible repeats a point or a story too - and the well known parable of the rich man asking Jesus how he may reach heaven is no exception. Indeed, this is so important a message for us that it's repeated three times: It appears in the Gospel of Matthew 19:16–30, the Gospel of Mark 10:17–31 and the Gospel of Luke 18:18–30. The story is told in much the same way across all of the Gospel accounts of the event: a rich man asks Jesus what he must do in order to be welcomed into heaven; he's already following ...

Free from the law

Tablets of the ten Commandments
Humanity isn't very good at doing the right thing. Indeed, we're only a few pages into our bibles when Adam and Eve have succumbed to temptation and taken a bite of fruit they were forbidden to take. From here, it escalates dramatically - if the first crime of humanity is disobedience and theft, the next in Genesis 4 is Cain’s murder of his brother Abel! So, although as a parent you hope your children will inherently know to do the right thing, with a heavy heart you realise that they probably won't. Therefore, it's time to lay down some rules - which is precisely what had to happen after t...

A Christmas Prayer

In life, there are many shades of grey; our choices and direction is not a black or white decision. We can choose to be truly altruistic; we can help others in a show that makes us look better in front of others - or we can choose to ignore the plight of another - our lives are compiled decisions and choices, with in many cases no truly wrong or right answer. It occurs however that in prayer, it’s clearer cut. We either pray to give thanks - or pray to ask for help. Christmas Day is so very nearly upon us. At this time of year, as we recount the Christmas story, there’s a lot to be thank...

Dark before the Dawn

Parable of the ten virgins
Not to put a downer on the season, but between you and I, there's one problem I have with the time of year. I'm waking up, showering and leaving the house for work under a night sky: and as the afternoon comes to an end and I head out home again, the skies above are also black. Working in an office with fake, fluorescent lighting and only catching the open, lit sky on my lunch break, I find myself really missing natural daylight. So, it’s actually fitting that Advent comes at a time of year when the nights have drawn in: when it’s cold outside and when it’s bleak. That might sound lik...


A quiet church as the service ends
There are certain questions your wife may ask that you’ve got to be very careful to answer. One such question, the downfall of many a husband or boyfriend I’m certain, is “do I look alright in this?” Apparently, the answer “you look fine” is not the right answer. “What do you mean ‘fine’? I’ve been getting ready for over an hour!”. At this point, you’re in trouble. “No, you look good!” isn’t going to cut it: “Good?! I didn’t spend half an hour straightening my hair to look ‘good’!” However, although I think I can be justified in answering “fine” (if you agree with me, feel free to confir...