One Day Soon
The spring is a time of year full of days set aside to encourage us to remember and celebrate individuals. We all know about the 14th February when lovers are easily persuaded to splash their cash on flowers, chocolates, wining and dining and silly cuddly toys. You can even buy specially boxed Mr Kipling cakes for your beloved; what more could they want? In March, we have Mothering Sunday, when we are encouraged to find time to make our mums feel special. One wonders what happens for the rest of the year. Other days are set aside to encourage us to think about and remember those suffering with illness such as Cancer, our veterans and patron saints.
These days have their origins routed in the laudable premise of taking time to give thanks for those we love and cherish, thinking of those no longer with us and showing solidarity with others as they fight life threatening illnesses.
Added to this list could be Shrove Tuesday (now renamed Pancake Day) and April Fool’s Day, both of whose true origins go way back to the start of the last millennium. Continue reading
I recently decided to switch energy providers – I’ve done it loads of times so surely it wouldn’t be a big deal to sort out. My new provider asked me for meter readings. Simple enough but my current provider decided a while back that I should have a smart meter.
Smart would surely mean better. Smart means I don’t have to submit readings. Smart means a simpler life for me!
The problem was the new smart meter doesn’t actually give you a meter reading and the meter itself was blank. The provider’s app was no help and wanted to direct me towards a web chat thing, which seemed like a pain so I rang them up.
Once through I had to punch in my account number, date of birth and postcode, generally a couple of times as the automated voice kept saying it hadn’t got it. I then got put through to that nice Michael Bubble who serenaded me a song until I got to a real person.
I told the real person that I needed them to give me the reading that the meter was beaming to them but wouldn’t share this with me. He said he would need to transfer me. I got more of Michael and a song about being unstoppable. Continue reading
Over the summer I have been seeking inspiration for this editions article. I have thought about the summer being a time of rest, played around with images of waves, sand, sun drenched summer meadows but nothing sparked my imagination. I thought about the recent news headlines; the total eclipse of the sun in the USA and was this a sign to America and the world? What about the rapidly disturbing developments in North Korea? Closer to home we were shocked by the terrorist acts of violence, touched by the very public battle over ending Charlie Gards life and numbed by the fire in London. But still I was left with no sense of what to share.
Then I read an article by Steve Clifford which so spoke to me and reflecting on it summed so much of what I had felt over this summer. He writes-
“I had visited Latymer Community Church in West London many times in the past, but this was unlike anything I had previously experienced. Here we were, just four days after the fire, standing looking up at the charred remains of Grenfell Tower. Continue reading
The name’s Bond.
Shaken not stirred.
Licensed to kill.
I could go on.
Last week, Roger Moore, who graced the screen as the iconic British spy during the 1970s and 80s, passed away aged 89. With a film and TV career spanning six decades, he exuded glamour and subdued good humour, his raised eyebrow perhaps his most defining motif.
So what did we love about Roger Moore’s Bond? Continue reading
14th February; Valentine’s Day. It’s the day when every seat in every restaurant is full and when couples who don’t care for restaurants will be preparing nice meals for one another. Flowers will be delivered to offices, gifts will show up in mailboxes, cards will be exchanged, supermarkets sell copious boxes of chocolates and petrol station flowers run out.
I am something of a sceptic when it comes to fabricated days that tell us to tell someone they are special and I feel for all those who for whatever reason are excluded on the 14th. I am very fortunate to have been married to Jane for more than 25 years now and it is so easy to take her for granted so I embrace Valentine’s Day, not for the commercialisation but as a time to say thank you and that I do still love you. Continue reading
Jesus wept. Just two simple words, and yet they carry a world of significance.
John 11:35 is the shortest verse in all of the Bible, but one of its most powerful, and insightful. Rightly was this tiniest of sentences assigned its own number.
Here we find a remarkable glimpse into the glory and humanity of the Lord of the universe.
His Human Emotions
In Isaiah he is called “A man of sorrows,” the prophet foretold, “and acquainted with grief”. Yes, he was a man of sorrows, but not his own. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”. Because his love is great, he made our pains his own. Continue reading
I was surprised by my daughter, when asked if it was nice to be home after staying in London for 10 days replied, yes it’s very quiet. She shared how London was always noisy.
But then if you sit outside in the garden or a park, even in Ware there is constant noise; cars, aircraft, people, machinery- life happening all around us, the vast majority which we filter out.
Even when we try to go somewhere quiet you are aware of the noise of life. Sitting on the west coast of the Isle of Wight this summer, as the sun set there was still noise. The wind blowing through the trees, gulls squawking, the sea lapping on the shore. Continue reading
Follow Up to June Article
Little did I know what turbulent waters we as a country would go through when I wrote my last article? I have read lots about the Brexit outcome since the referendum on 23rd June but the best by far is from Steve Clifford, General director of Evangelical Alliance.
“There is certain irony that as I write this, I do so with the backdrop of what has been the greatest political shaking that has been experienced in our country in my lifetime. Has there ever been a time when the divisions and disagreements across the UK have been more apparent? The referendum has revealed complex and deeply concerning fissures. A country which has prided itself on hospitality and tolerance has discovered under the surface pockets of unexpressed fears, anxieties and prejudice. This has been fuelled, in some communities, by a deep sense of powerlessness, of not being heard in decisions made by Brussels and Westminster. We are living in an age of a disunited United Kingdom.
While Christians don’t agree on the desired outcome for the referendum, what we can agree on is that in the shaking, it’s time for the Church to model a better way of handling disagreement- and for us to engage in the profoundly important national conversation, as we look to the future, of what kind of society we wish to build.
A unity that not only handles our disagreements well, but commits us to working with our brothers and sisters to see God’s heavenly purposes fulfilled on earth.
This time of national shaking is a great opportunity for the UK Church. Let’s not miss this opportunity. Let’s pray, but also as the good news people proclaim a better way through both word and action.”
By the time you read this our fate will have been decided. There is nothing we can now do to change the decision. We had a choice; should we stay or should we go and by making the choice we have set in motion a train of events that can’t be stopped. Choosing either option has major, far reaching consequences, many of which we are yet unaware of. Continue reading
If you are a football fan, you might be having your loyalties stretched at this time. The premiership for so many years has been predictable, dominated by the so called big five teams. At the start of the season you could have got 5000-1 on Leicester City winning the premiership. Why? Last year they were the worst team in the league until a minor miracle happened; they won nine games in a row and stayed up. That miracle has continued this season as they have won time and again playing attractive football, topping the league with ten games to go. Those who support them “are living the dream” having a party at every home match, celebrating their achievements and daring to dream the unbelievable night just become real.
This idea of the unexpected becoming a reality is beautifully and challengingly explored in the book “The first phone call from heaven”. I recommend you read the book review elsewhere in this edition or the whole book, I just couldn’t put it down when I read it.
One of our clergy many moons ago shared their memories of Christmas and central to it was Doris Day singing I’ll be home for Christmas. If you don’t know the song look it up on You Tube, there are many versions of it.
The origins of the song, even though it was only written 70 years ago, are lost in the mist of time. The accepted story seems to be that the song is sung from the point of view of an overseas soldier during WWII, writing a letter to his family. In the message, he tells his family that he will be coming home, and to prepare the holiday for him including requests for “snow”, “mistletoe”, and “presents on the tree”. The song ends on a melancholy note, with the soldier saying “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” Kim Gannon who wrote the song claimed on many occasions that he was not thinking of the soldiers when he wrote the lyrics but of all people who are unable to be home for Christmas. When he pitched the song to people in the music business, they turned it down because the last line was said to be too sad for all those separated from their loved ones. When playing golf with Bing Crosby, however, Gannon sang the song for Crosby, who decided to record it. It ended up as the flip side of “White Christmas”, was released in 1943 and the rest is history. Continue reading
“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis” so said Queen Elizabeth during a speech at the Guildhall in London. For me the last 12 months has been an Annus Horribilis. Continue reading
In the final battle scene from the World War II film, Saving Private Ryan, mortally wounded Captain John H. Miller whispers his last words into Private James Ryan’s ears: “Earn this,” he says between dying breaths before he slumps his head, his task complete. His task was to find Private Ryan and bring him home, a mission of mercy planned to give his mother some solace after she hears that three of her four sons died on the field. Miller and his specially picked squad end up completing their task, at the cost of most of their own lives; yet they successfully complete their mission, to bring Private Ryan home alive. Continue reading