Julia Writes

Matthew 11:28                                                                                                          “Come unto me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest”

The River cannot go back 

It is said that before entering the sea a river trembles with fear.  She looks back at the path she has travelled, from the peaks of the mountains,  the long winding road crossing forests and villages and in front of her, she sees an ocean so vast that to enter there seems nothing more than to disappear for ever.  But there is no other way.  The river cannot go back.  Nobody can go back. To go back is impossible in existence.  The river needs to take the risk of entering the ocean because only then will fear disappear,  because that’s here the river will know it’s not about disappearing into the ocean but of becoming the ocean

Kahil Gibran

For many of us this week has seen another easing of lockdown restrictions put in place to help combat Covid -19. We are trying to back to some form of ” normality” or whatever normality is at this moment in time. it will certainly be quite different for a while at least. But we are taking those first tentative steps forward, just as a child takes it’s first stumbling steps as they are learning to walk. As many of us return to our workplaces, are able to have that long awaited haircut, have a visit to our local pub, can meet up with more of our family and friends, take a long awaited holiday and return to our places of worship, we will be filled with all sorts of emotions.

While some of us will have feelings of” relief and joys” as we gain back some of our independence, others will be more fearful: especially if they have been shielding or are in a more vulnerable situation.

As the poem says: a river cannot go backwards. It needs to wind it’s way to the ocean where it will disappear for ever. It’s about becoming the ocean.

The new normality is about moving forward: maybe having to look how we can do things in different ways, That’s not easy and we can feel resentful and long for the old ways.

But we do not need to fear. As Jesus says in the scripture above, When your weary, when you feel tired and weighed down with everything, just come to him and he will take care of it. he will give us rest.

Deuteronomy 31:6 ( NKJV) says:                                                                                                          Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, he is the One who goes with you. he will not leave you or forsake you”

So as we move through into the next stage of this journey, may we be mindful of those that are fearful. MAy we be kind, gentle and respectful and have an appreciation for the feelings of others. As we move forwards may we be strong and have courage in difficult situations and give encouragement to others.

And may we remember that GOD is always with us until the end of time.

Let us pray

God, grant us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that can be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other

Heavenly Father                                                                                                              Be a soothing voice within the storms that so often seem to overwhelm us,  Calming the waters through which we sail,                                                  Stilling the waters that would divert us and guide us safely throughout this day,   Amen


Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restires my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his names sake.

Julia Writes 

“A new commandment ……to love one another as I have loved you“
John 15:9-11
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other”
Let there be love shared among us, let there be love in our eyes. May now your love sweep this nation: cause us O Lord to araise. Give us a fresh understanding, brotherly love that is real. Let there be love shared among us, let there be love.
Dave Bilbrough

Almighty God and most merciful Father, who has given us a new commandment that we should love one another, give us also grace that we may fulfil it.
Transform us to be courteous, respectful, gentle, kind and loving towards others. Direct our lives to a fuller and deeper understanding so that we may look for the good of the others in word and deed. Amen

Prayer for change
May the world turn round about May all things turn to right: May the sunset thank the dawn The noontide bless the night
May the rivers thank the rain, the stormclouds bless the sea. May the good soil thank the leaves, the sunshine bless the tree
May the rich thank those in need, the children bless the old; May the strong thank those that fail, the timid bless the bold.
May the angels sing on earth, may heaven hear our prayer; May forgiveness, joy and peace and love fill everywhere.

Cameron writes  
Eph. 3.21 … God can do far more than we can ask or imagine …
Evening Prayer
Song. Calm me Lord

Cameron Writes

Do Justice ,Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with God .
Micah 6.8

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . John 1.1……
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to proclaim …... Luke 4.18-19
An incredibly uplifting service by United Methodist Church, USA

Join United Methodists and all people of faith in a special service of worship. Hear God’s call to join in the work of dismantling racism and pressing on to freedom for all.

Julia Writes

I,d like to read you a reflection from Eddie Askews book “ Love is a wild bird” today
I had another thought about seashells. I’d been walking on the South Downs, the rolling uplands of Sussex. All made of chalk I’m told. Not the little white sticks we used to throw at each other at school when the teacher wasn’t looking? But the natural rock.
The downs are made of billions of tiny seashells from creatures living long ago. When they died their shells sank down onto the sea bed, layer upon layer. Overtime the pressure hardened and compacted them into rock and then, in some great catalyst Mick shift in the earth surface, the layers of shells were raised out of the sea to become the downs. Why they’re called downs when they were raised up I don’t know but we’ll move on,.
Few of us are called to be great but we all called to be something. Few of us achieve fame but we each have something we can give to the community in which we live.
John Donne, a Prophet and preacher who lived 400 years ago, said no man is an island, entire of itself; “everyman is a piece of the continent, the part of the main.” In other words, we are all part of humankind and, although we each a pretty small part, without us the world would be poorer, and together we add up to something significant. Tell yourself today that you’re valuable, your life is important and that you have something to give. Then go out and give it.

Some words of scripture form Romans 12 : 5-6
“so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”
For all of us, these past weeks have been some of the most challenging we may have experienced: firstly, for the coronavirus pandemic and secondly for the continuing racism and brutality which we have all seen in the world community, as a nation and in our local community.
Today is Windrush day: A day when we remember those who Accepted the Invitation from the British government to leave their homes in the Caribbean and come and settle in Britain to help build the nation again post WW2.
Nearly half a million people{ many who had served in the armed forces during the war) came to help taking up jobs in the NHS and other sectors affected by Britians post war labour shortage. Sadly those who came, full of hope , were to experience dreadful racism and discrimination as they tried to make settle into their new lives, living in hope that things ill get better.
This past week I watched the film” Sitting in Limbo” If you haven’t seen it I would recommend it to you. It left me shocked and in tears as I tried to absorb the horrific experiences this innocent man and his family were exposed to through an unjust and inhumane system. It follows the story of Antony Brian, who came to Britain with his family as a little of 8 years old.
His mother worked for years as a nurse in the NHS and he grow up making his own life in the country and rearing his own family. What followed moved me to tears as this gentleman was targeted by the foreign office , who claimed in was living in England illegally and was very nearly deported back to Jamaica: a country which he had not been back to sine he was 8.
Sadly, this is just one story of many.
Racism and discrimination is still around and among us, in our towns, our cities our communities and our even our churches.
I repeat again the words from John Donne “no man is an island, entire of itself; everyman is a piece of the continent, the part of the main.”
So today, as we remember the Windrush generation and give thanks for all they gave and still give to this country, may we also remember that we are all equally important to God and each have gifts to offer one another regardless of our nationality, race, gender or creed. We do this by showing respect, love , kindness and care to one another.
In the worlds of Isiah 43: 1 and 5
“ Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine…..you are precious in my eyes and honoured and I love you.”
Let us pray
Lord: help me to see the value of the folk I meet today, and thank you, Lord, for the price you set on me.

Loving God, Give peace to your people and inspirers to offer peace to each other. Maybe work together to right or wrongs; may we walk together to protest against injustice; may we live together seeking the welfare of all and may we find in your presence the inner peace that sustains all living beings. Amen

The Lord’s prayer
And now may I leave you with some words of God’s peace.
God is love and those who live in love live in God. The peace pf the Lord be always with you
Song: Hes got the whole world in his hands


Julia Writes

Peace in our Time: A Song for Peace

Where are you Lord when catastrophe creates?
Volcanic eruptions, droughts and earthquakes
Hurricanes, tsunamis, leaving terror in their wake
Families displaced, fearing their fate
Its peace that we pray for let us do your will
As we feel your presence then hope will flow through

Where are you Lord when I don’t fit in?
Just because of the colour of my sin
When the way that I worship is different to some
Amidst the disunity, come Lord please come.
Its peace that we pray for let us do your will
As we feel your presence your spirit will flow through

Where are you Lord in the midst of war?
When guns begin firing and bombs start to fall.
When governments say we must fight for our cause
Humanity second to their rules and their laws
Its peace that we pray for let us do your will
As we feel your presence your peace will flow through

Where are you Lord when the wells run dry?
The harvest fails and famine is neigh
Starvation and sickness, they fear for their lives
Open our eyes Lord we can help them survive
Its peace that we pray for let us do your will
As we feel your presence your love will flow through

Addicts and the homeless fearing their plight
Come down among them, show them a way
Out of the night and into the day
Its peace that we pray for let us do your will
As we feel your presence your grace will flow through

Yes it peace that we pray for, let us do your will
We’ll let in your presence and your grace will flow through


Cameron Writes

The verse from the beginning of  St John’s Gospel:
‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us . ‘ One of my favourite verses in the bible.

God chose to abide with us . God chooses in the person of Jesus Christ to be and stay with us , through the joys and trials of life . We do not walk alone.

The Art of Transfiguration

Consider the parable of the prodigal son, which is really a story about the compassion of the Father. How benevolent is our God? How eager to bless and forgive? So patient and gentle in light of our weakness….

Prayer for many gifts ( Stephen Cherry )

Give me, O Lord, a calm and clear head , a broad mind and generous spirit.
Give me, a warm heart and listening ear , and my true voice and a gentle touch .
Give me, a hunger for justice and a thirst for peace , a passion for truth and a love of mercy .
Give me, a painter’s eye and a poet’s tongue, a saint’s patience and a prophet’s hope.
Give me a sage’s wisdom and a fool’s delight .
A pilgrim’s purpose and an angel’s content .

Below a framed picture , a copy of Rublev’s painting of the Prodigal Son given to me as a gift by my mentor ( Canon E J Rowland) in my youth (1977). Always hanging in my study and which I’ve travelled with in all of my nearly 36 years of ordained ministry and before that as a church and provincial/diocese youth leader( Nomad) in SA.
🌈🙏😇Image may contain: one or more peoplev

Julia Writes

We are made in God’s image….

We have had a very difficult few weeks to cope with due to the pandemic we have found ourselves in. There is a lot of hope o the horizon as we begin the long journey back to “normal living” whatever that means for each of us.

But sadly, this past week had become yet another dark place in our lives as a world community, as a nation and as a community.

Following the death of George Floyd from such brutality and racism, we have seen an outpouring of dismay and anger in many nations, resulting in mass protests.But while this is very much in our focus just now, sadly this is not a new phenomenon. Racism and brutality can be traced back many many generations. It has and still does take many forms and is always in our midst bubbling under the surface waiting for a chance to explode like an erupting volcano. For a while society speaks out against it with mass protests and speeches and then it seems to be put back in its box as we all get on with our own lives: that is until the next eruption.

But it doesn’t have too be like this.

We are all made in God’s image “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

But what does it mean to Be Made in God’s image ?

Well, firstly, we are created with the capacity to become like God.: not a God but to live as God intends us to live.; In love and peace with all men
Secondly, being made in the image of God gives us dignity. Al of us on this earth deserve and have to right to dignity no matter what our nationality, race , gender or creed

I’d like to shae a quote with you made by nelson Mandela:

” we accord a person’s dignity ny assuming that they share the human qualities we ascribe to ourselves”

And thirdly, being made in the image of God gives us certain responsibilities. Responsibilities to each other and ourselves: of how we treat and care for one anther regardless of who we are, where we live and our individual needs.
We have a responsibility to ensure each and every one of us have access to the basic human rights of living: somewhere to live, adequate food, education, health care, employment and above all dignity, respect and love.

During these past few weeks, we have seen numerous selfless acts of humanity: caring and respecting one another and this past week, others standing up for peace and justice throughout the world. Sadly, those who are poor and underprivileged seem to take the blunt of difficult times and this includes those of BAME origins. And this doesn’t just happen in other countries.IT is very prevalent in our nation to.

I was very moved to tears by the facebook post from the Kanna -Masson family( a wonderful musically talented family)who, this week, in tribute to George Floyd and other victims of racism and brutality played a beautiful musical to them and spoke about their own personal struggles in society. I would encourage you to listen to them.

And so I pray that the protests this week do not go unheard and unacted upon. That they are not just brushed under the carpet again.

May the 2020 not just be remembered as a year when the world came to a standstill because of a dangerous virus, but as a year when society turned a corner, recognised the diversions and injustice which surrounds us everyday, and begins to live “ in the image of God”
May we be Christlike in our actions as we continue to walk the road of peace and justice in the love of God.

I’d like to finish by sharing with you the words of A hymn based on the speech by Martin Luther King:

We have a dream: this nation will arise and truly live according to its creed,
that all are equal in our maker’s eyes, and not shall suffer through another’s greed.

We have a dream of deserts brought to flower once made fertile by oppressions heat
when love and truth shall end oppressive power and streams of righteousness and justice meet

We have a dream our children shall be free from judgments based on colour on race
free to become whatever they may be of their own choosing in the light of grace

We have a dream that truth will overcome the fear and anger of our present day
that black and white will show a common home and hand in hand will walk the Pilgrim way

We have a dream each Valley will be raised and every Mount and every Hill brought down then shall creation echo perfect praise and share God glory under freedom’s Crown

Let us pray:
Help us out Christ to live the way of peace to bind the broken with compassions bands, to saw the seeds of love instead of hate, to free the prisoner from oppressing hands

Where doubt abides oh God may we share faith, replace despair with hope, and power in song.

Where darkness dwells may we bring healing ligh,t when grief descends help broken hearts feel strong

Oh Christ may we all seek to understand much more than to be fully understood consoling or before we seek their care that they may know that life is truly good,

For through our giving we shall receive through our forgiveness we shall find life span and in our letting go we shall rise to live the way of love and joyful communion.Amen

Peace in the world

If there is righteousness in the heart there will be beauty in the character
If there is beauty in the character there will be harmony in the home
If there is harmony in the home there will be order in the nation
If there is order in the nation there will be peace in the world

Cameron Writes:  

How many more?
At the end of this momentous week, we’re reflecting on the struggle for justice being played out in front of all of us. George Floyd is the latest life, the latest name, lost in a centuries-old callous disregard for the intrinsic value and equality of all humans. But the global response of protests (and riots) that has followed George’s brutal murder seem to us to be marking some sort of turning point.

The streets are filled with young people – of all races, religions and sexualities. Perhaps because the Covid-19 pandemic has made us all feel more vulnerable and precarious, the response we’re witnessing feels more visceral, tangible – and even hopeful. Black Lives Matter is not someone else’s concern, another community’s issue. It is a call to action for all of us.

And let’s not kid ourselves that this is just an issue for those on the other side of the Atlantic. As Brits, it was we who exported this idea of colonialisation and commodification (and let’s name it: slavery) in the first place. If the racism that stalks our society is perhaps different in form, it is no less destructive and, yes, sinful. It may well be more subtle in the UK. But in many ways it is all the more insidious for its subtlety.

There are books to read and essays to ponder, podcasts to listen to, there are documentaries to watch and voices to be heard. There are things we can all do right now. There are plenty of causes to give to and support in the city where George Floyd was murdered. We cannot feign ignorance or helplessness. We can do this. And we must do this.

At Greenbelt, you’ll know that we’ve been trying to engage with this for some time – often making mistakes, learning loads, trying to change. We still have so much to do. And when we think about who we are and what we’ve been able to do over the decades as a community, as a movement of sorts, we know that we need to put our shoulders into this issue now more than ever; to signal our commitment to anti-racism in thought, word and deed.

We need to make Black Lives Matter our mission, in the same way we danced for debt forgiveness as part of Jubilee 2000; in the same way we became friends with the late Dame Anita Roddick and got stuck into the Trade Justice Movement; in the same way that we have been able to platform, listen to and stand in solidarity with the Palestinians under occupation; in the same way we used to sing Free Nelson Mandela back in the day; and in the same way we have mainstreamed LGBTQ artistry, thought and theology at the heart festival.

Here are some talks from our archive that we’ve programmed over the years that speak into this issue:

The Lemonade Effect: Beyonce, Blackness, Feminism & White Discomfort
Broderick Greer, Vanessa Kisuule, Sekai Makoni, Sally Amaka, Chine McDonald
But I’m not racist! Am I?
Winnie Varghese, Broderick Greer, Prof. Anthony Reddie
Communion: Windrush and Carnival
Winnie Varghese, The Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir
Doing Theology In the Era of Black Lives Matter
Broderick Greer
Don’t Touch My Hair: crowning glory, power and identity
Emma Dabiri – 2019
Hidden in plain sight? Bringing black women into focus
Rozella Haydée White, Chibundu Onuzo, Saraiya Bah, Chine MacDonald
Decolonising the University
Gurminder Bhambra
Restoring humanity in post-apartheid South Africa
Mpendulo Nyembe
Rivers Of Blood. 50 Years On.
Prof. Anthony Reddie
The World Does Not Need Any More White Saviours
Revd. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Revd. Ijeoma Ajibade, Shakeel Nurmahi, Duncan Dormor, Dr Rachele (Evie) Vernon O’Brien
Towards the practice of freedom
Anthony Reddie – 2007
Trying to Name the Elephant in the Room: The theological challenge of race and difference in postcolonial British Christianity
Anthony Reddie
What the Movement for Black Lives Teaches Us About Jesus
Broderick Greer
White Like Me
Robert Beckford
Black Lives Matter: Christian & Muslim Reflections
Rozella Haydée White, Ismael Lea South, Saraiya Bah
Martin Luther King borrowed from the sermons of Theodore Parker, who called for the abolition of slavery a century earlier in 1853, writing about ‘the arc of the moral universe’. King took that idea and made it his own with “The The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, But It Bends Toward Justice.” Barack Obama used it too. It’s a wonderful and hopeful imagining.

But our prayer at the end of this extraordinary week is that it won’t be too much longer. Human history is haunted by the cry of people calling for justice: “How long O Lord?” But our commitment now must be to do the work, to deepen our understanding, to raise our voices so that we can hasten the day when “justice rolls on like a river, and righteousness like a never-failing stream.”
“I can’t count the number of times I asked for systemic change and got a hug (or tears or a trinket or a pat on the back or a speech or a sermon or some coffee) instead.”

Austin Channing Brown on twitter

Julia writes

Where Can I find God?

An interesting question : one which is often asked in times of difficulties . A question we may not give too much thought to when our lives are filled with the normal activities of everyday living. But, when thighs go abit topsy tervy, and we find ourselves in very different and difficult circumstances, it may well be one that people think about: especially in the light of the pandemic we are still battling through.

I’d like to read you a short piece of scripture from Luke Chapter 4: 16-19.the passage Jesus read at the start of his ministry in Nazareth .
“ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
For he has anointed me to bring Good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that the captives will be released,
that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free”

We hear that Jesus healed the sick, preached the good news to the poor and yet we still are surrounded by disease and poverty. We try to remain faithful but sometimes problems and difficulties can weigh us down and make us discouraged.
And yet, through the darkness there is always a light shining.

Leo Tolstoy told a story of Martin the Cobbler, an old man who is promised a visit by Christ himself and yet he only encounters ordinary people with common problems form morning until night. If you haven’t read the story, its worth reading.

All the while Martin the cobbler had been looking for something big and spectacular and had become very despondent with life, only to discover that God appears in the quiet, the ordinary, even the obscure places of life when we are least expecting him. God comes, as Martin learned, through the kind word, the understanding heart, the quiet sharing of a good deed done in simplicity and love.

We expect God to come in a big way and yet we discover that God is already present in many ways which we sometimes fail to recognise and do not grasp until after the event.

So back to my question earlier: “Where can I find God?” Well if we look for the spectacular lightning bolt experience, we may just go a lifetime without finding God. BUT if we look among the ordinary places and people around us we will see God at work every day.

So, during this time of lockdown and as we begin to ease out of it into some form of normal” whatever that may mean for each of us” take some time to look and listen. Look around us , use our eyes to see and our ears to listen for those every day acts of love and kindness that surround us whether it be in our own neighbourhood, in the supermarket, in our places of work, in the hospitals, nursing homes, in our schools and colleges, in our churches: wherever we may find ourselves.

If we do this, we will see God’s love among us in abundance. And it doesn’t need to stop here because we too can and must be part of God’s presence in our society. May we too have the strength of God’s goodness and grace to live our lives according to God’s will through the ordinary things , ordinary people and situations that cross our paths every day.

O gracious and Holy Father
Give us wisdom to perceive you
Diligence to seek you
Patience to wait for you
Eyes to behold you
A heart to meditate upon you
And a life to proclaim you
Through the power of the Spirit
Of Jesus Christ our Lord

Cameron Writes

Jesus said ;‘ where I am there you might also be ‘

St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) said ;
‘Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.

Song. ‘When I needed a neighbour Were you there , were you

Julia Writes

Thy Kingdom Come…..
We are now more than half way through “ Thy Kingdom Come “: a global wave of prayer which takes place between Accession Day and Pentecost, where we are invited to pray for our families, friends and communities: that others may come to know Jesus in their lives. As I was reflecting on this time I began to think about how the Kingdom of God is at work within our society.

I was reminded of an incident that occurred during a pilgrimage to Israel I took part in last year with our ministry team from St Hugh’s.

During our pilgrimage, we saw many forms of injustice, not least how the Palestinians suffered through persecution and apartheid through occupation and yet we also experienced great kindness in the most unlikely of ways.
This particular event took place one evening, after a really long day walking round Galilee. We were wondering around Tiberias looking for somewhere to eat. The only problem was, no-one had told us the celebration for Independence day began at 8 O’clock that evening and everything closes for 24 hours: so no food: no cafes, no restaurants, no take always : not even a corner shop. And we were very hungry by this time with only 1 bag of crisps and 1 packet of pringles between 6 of us and were, I might add, by this time rather grumpy. So we went into a hotel and asked if we could have a meal there. We were turned away as we weren’t staying at the hotel. Oh boy. It didn’t look good.
After what seemed an age, but was probably only about an hour in reality, help came in an unlikely source of an Arab coach driver, who, on hearing of our plight offered to help. He took us to the hotel he was staying in, spoke to the manager who then lead us to a table and told us we could have as much food as we liked: just as long as we chose all 3 courses at once as by this time ,it was 9 o’clock and they were about to clear all the food away. How about that: 6 very hungry pilgrims, helped by an Arab coach driver taking us to a Jewish hotel for food: wonderful hospitality and 6 full and very happy pilgrims. We received such hospitality , generosity , love and kindness in our time of need.

Often these themes of humility, hospitality and love overlap as we go about our daily lives. During these past few weeks, we have seen many incidents similar to this: people, families, very often totally independent needing to rely and accept the help, generosity and hospitality of others: often total strangers.

We’ve seen people of all ages, different nationalities, different religious beliefs, or none , men women and children delivering grocies and essential items for our daily living ,to those who are unable to go out of their homes, We’ve seen cares nurses and medical staff move out of their homes into hotels and caravans so they can continue to care for the sick and dying, We’ve seen key workers continue to put themselves at risk to ensure medical , food and the supply chain continue to run as smoothly as possible so others can received food and energy supplies.

We have seen and continue to see The Kingdom of God at work among us. We are bound together because we all belong to one body: the body of Christ: As Cameron reminded us on Monday with those wonderful words for Mother Teresa of Avila: ( And Iparaphrase,) we are Christs body, his hands and his feet, his eyes and his ears.

I am reminded of a hymn: which has the words: Bind us together Lord, bind us together with cords that cant be broken. Bind us together Lord, Lord bind us together in Love

Let us pray the Thy Kingdom Come Prayer,

Almighty God
Your ascended Son has sent us into the world to preach the good news of your Kingdom:
Inspire us with your Spirit
And fill our hearts with the fire of your love,
That all who hear your word
May be drawn to you
Through Jesus Christ our Lord

Song: Bind us together Lord. Youtube https://youtu.be/NEH38evSbME

Julie Writes 

Yesterday I harvest my first produce from the vegetable plot. A white radish, grown from seed, tended and cared for. Placed in the correct compost, which was full of nutrients, watered on a regular basis and eventually placed into the soil. With warmth of the of sun it grew into a wonderful tasty vegetable. Which place a smile in my heart and on my face.
It is Mental Health Awareness week and l, as among many others, have been aware of my own mental health which has been greatly tested. However, my radish reminds me that some of the smallest and simple things can make a person smile.
Of course, I did not just plant one but many and over the course of the next few weeks hopefully we will harvest many radishes, with many smiles. Jesus teaches us that many good things can come from planting seeds in good nutritious soil.
Luke 8:15 ‘As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.’
Today as we see people, pass on a SMILE, say ‘hello, it’s a beautiful day’ for this may change the mental health of one person, or even maybe many.

Let’s us pray:
Lord of love and life
Surround us with your love
Nourish our faith with your words
Give relief and understand to those who feel their lives are broken
Walk alongside those in need and who are looking for answers
Sustain our strength with the fruits of our labours
Smile though your servants

Cameron writes

“The God who comforts invites us to comfort others in their distress.” 2 Corinthians 14 :1

Philip Yancey writes that ;
The sociologist Rodney Stark has written (in The Rise of Christianity) that one reason the church overcame hostility and grew so rapidly within the Roman empire traces back to how Christians responded to pandemics of the day, which probably included bubonic plague and smallpox. When infection spread, Romans fled their cities and towns; Christians stayed behind to nurse and feed not only their relatives but their pagan neighbours Their offering comfort drew others to the God of all comfort.
Jesus knew suffering up close, as he willingly sacrificed himself on the altar of love( the crucifixion) for our world’s brokenness. And when he ascended, he sent his followers into the world “as the Father has sent me,” to be God’s agents of comfort and healing. In thought provoking words , the apostle Paul refers to the God of all comfort, “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4, NIV).

God’s desire for us is to walk alongside those experiencing distress, pain and suffering.

Closing Prayer
Risen Christ,
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

I conclude with the song
‘Lean on me’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiouJsnYytI&feature=shareCameron writes

Cameron writes

Winnie-the-pooh is a collection of stories about an effortlessly calm, still and reflective teddy bear named ‘Winnie the pooh’ (and friends) by English author A.A. Milne. It was first published way back in the year 1926!

A quote from the book
‘You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.

Life’s lesson
There is a time to wait and then there comes a time to take action. Taking action is the best way to shatter feelings of self doubt. The more action you take, the more the route forward becomes clearer.

I conclude with the words of the Hymn
‘ Father hear the prayer we offer’
Be our strength in hours of weakness ,
In our wanderings be our guide;
Through endeavour, failure , danger,
Father , be Thou our guide.

Cameron Writes

A lorry driver shares a story of an act of kindness by a boy and his mum.
‘So this morning I was sitting in my truck just finishing a driving break at Sutton Scotney Services at the bottom of the A34. I was the only truck in the services as the roads were very quiet. Had a chat with a work colleague on the phone and shut my eyes for 5 minutes. Suddenly there was a bang on the cab door and I looked out but couldn’t see anyone. Then I looked down and saw a small boy backing away from the truck. I wound the window down and said “hello young man.” He answered “Mister, there is a cup of coffee by your front wheel for you from me and my mum to say thank you for carrying on delivering what you are delivering but I don’t know what you are delivering.” He pointed his mum out and I gave her a wave to say thank you. I then got out of the truck to pick up the coffee and found, also, a packet of 3 custard cream biscuits next to the drink. His mum had taught him to social distance and he stayed about 10 feet away from me as we chatted. I started to drink the drink and I opened the biscuits and offered him one but he said his mum had told him not to eat any because they were for the lorry drivers. I said that I wouldn’t tell her and placed the packet on the cab step and moved away and he took one. He told me that he had already had six today but his mum didn’t know. He also told me that because he and his mum had nothing to do on the holiday weekend they thought they would come out and buy the drivers a cup of coffee at the services. She was buying them at W H Smiths and it was his job to deliver them. I thanked him very much and said goodbye and waved to his mum again and left to continue on my way home. As I left the services 2 little girls jumped out of his mum’s car and waved a small handwritten poster that simply said “Thank you driver.”
He did tell me his name but I am not going to publish it on here to protect him.
So, to end, Thank you to that little man and his mum and, I assume his sisters for making the truck drivers world a better place for a short time.
Stay safe little “feller” the world needs you and more just like you.’

Some words of a hymn

Father hear the prayer we offer
Not for ease that prayer shall be
But for strength that we may ever
Live our lives courageously.

Closing prayer
Stand by us Lord,
Give us peace, courage and bright hopes,
this day and all our days. Amen

Monday 11th May

Florence Nightingale

Hello and welcome to our time of quite prayer and reflection from St Hughs todayThe Lord be with you.

This week is the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale: or “the lady with the lamp” as she is famously known as. As a nurse, Florence Nightingale is an inspiration to me: I loved reading her story as a child and her story inspired me to follow my vocation as a nurse. As a non-stipendiary priest I’m often asked how I see the two “jobs “working together. We: I don’t see them as “jobs”: I see them as on vocation really. Nursing has and still does play a big part in my ministry as a priest today.

Florence Nightingale struggled to become a nurse in her time and so its remarkable that the legacy she leaves today is on of determination, resilience, and courage. It was she who brought sanitation into the dreadful conditions of field hospitals in the Crimean war and later into the hospitals at home. Florence was responsible for the large Nightingale wards that I still remember form my younger nursing days and infection control measures that saved thousands of lives. Not only was she a nurse she was a remarkable statistician, social reformer and formed the establishment of St Thomas’ Hospital and within it the “Nightingale school of Nursing”.

Florence Nightingale attributes her vocation as a nurse to receiving her call from God while sat in her garden one day aged 17 years : At first she wasn’t sure what this calling us but as she continued to minister to the ill and poor in the village outside her family’s estate she came to the conclusion that nursing was to be her divine vocation. She had to endure tremendous difficults in overcoming the social and parental attitudes of the day: Girls from “well to do families “didn’t do such things.

But Florence was determined to follow her vocation, It took years of preparation and training before she embarked on her mission to the Crimea. It was a dangerous mission. She found herself in a hostile disease-ridden environment and she too had to overcome illness as she nearly lost her own life when she became ill with brucellosis (as did many of her nurses). But she had her faith and her trust in God and would refer to the words from psalm 46:”God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.”

This year is the international year for Nurses and Midwifes and it was chosen to co-inside with the biocentenery of Florence nightingale. As I sat reflecting on this the other day, it somehow seems surreal that nurses and medical staff find themselves “celebrating this vocation in the midst of a pandemic. Corona virus that is sweeping through the globe. Once again they find themselves at the front of the fight against this terrible disease that has turned the world upside down, Once again they are giving of themselves so selflessly so that other terribly sick people can be given a chance to survive, to heal and continue to be part of their families and society. Once again, they are there when the fight becomes too much, and they stay be a patient’s bedside holding their hand as best they can through wearing PPE as they leave this earthly life. Once again, they are there for families of the sick and the dying. Day after day, shift after shift, enduring the constriction of wearing PPE and having to leave their own families at home. Many have contracted the virus and sadly some have paid the ultimate price for their dedication and service to caring for others.

As Florence Nightingale was helped by the words from psalm 46, the words from John 14:1, came to my mind:

“do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me”

As we very slowly begin to come out of lockdown, may we remember these words from John, many of us are fearful of the future, of what lays ahead of us. Life will be quite different for all of us for quite a while to c0me and adjusting to this will take time, courage and selflessness. But, as with Florence Nightingale, we will find the resilience to over come it . God tells us to put our trust in him, that he is our refuge and our strength.

And so as we remember the international year of Nurse and midwives and celebrate the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale, may we also remember that God calls each and every on of us by name to be present in the world wherever we find ourselves and in whatever situation we find ourselves : We know this because God told us in The words from Isaiah 43:1

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, and you are mine”

And so, during these very difficult and challenging times may we continue to pray for all our nurses, midwives and all who care for those I any kind of need.

Let us pray the Nightingale prayer
“Today, our world needs healing and to be rekindled with Love.                                       Once, Florence Nightingale lit her beacon of lamplight to comfort the wounded.             Her light has blazed a path of service across a Century to us–                                        through her example and through the countless nurses and healers                                         who have followed in her footsteps.

“Today, we celebrate the flame of Florence Nightingale’s legacy.                                             Let that same light be rekindled to burn brightly in our hearts.                                             Let us take up our own ‘lanterns of caring,’ each in our own ways–                                         to more brightly walk our own paths of service to the world–                                                 to more clearly share our own ‘noble purpose’ with each other.

“May human caring become the lantern for the 21st century.                                                May we better learn to care for ourselves, for each other and for all Creation”

“Through our caring, may we be the keepers of that flame.                                                    That our spirits may burn brightly to kindle the hearts                                                                ​of our children and great-grandchildren—                                                                                   as they, too, follow in these footsteps.”

Deva-Marie Beck, PhD, RN © 1996

6th May: Jen Writes

Hi everyone and welcome to St Hugh’s daily reflection. It’s Wednesday 6th May and it’s 6 weeks since most of us started in lock down.

Now I thought I wasn’t doing too bad under these restrictive conditions but then yesterday I had a bit of a bad day! I was going to pick up on our holy land trip where Julia left off yesterday but instead I thought I’d share with you my bad day which ended up being a good day as maybe some of you can relate to it in some way.

So I was busy doing an assignment for theological school when the results of our previous assignment came through on an email. Oh no It was bad! I thought I was going to have to redo it but fortunately my average was just about high enough.

After the initial shock and disappointment over my grade I went through an angry stage – should I get it remarked – it can’t be right can it – then I went through an upset stage where I felt I had let myself down for not really spending enough time and thought on it. Then I went through a what now stage – where does this leave me. I messaged my friends frantically for support. After about an hour or so of running through these emotions and feeling exhausted I realised it was time to turn to God. Perhaps I should have realised sooner but I suddenly found my self praying the serenity prayer. 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.

I realised then that all I had done was waste my energy and exhaust myself! I could not change what I had submitted and I couldn’t realistically change the mark. I think being in isolation heightens all these emotions we have. We have longer time to dwell on things we have done or said. Or dwell on things we perhaps wished we had done and didn’t. We think about opportunities missed and the what ifs. We are left alone with our thoughts a lot more and this isn’t always easy. Yes we have phones and zoom and face time etc but it’s just not the same as sitting with a friend and unburdening your problems over a cup of tea.

But what a friend we have in Jesus! The lyrics of the song read.

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer

And so through Jesus who intercedes for us we can come to accept the things we cannot change. And through the abundant grace that we are freely given we actually become stronger from those curve balls that life throws at us! We become stronger from our disappointments, stronger from our failings, stronger from those painful events that knock the wind out us. And I have no doubt that we will become stronger from what we have learnt about ourselves and others and God during this period of isolation.

Now a year ago today we visited Cana, the site of the wedding feast where Jesus performed his first miracle turning water into wine. I was going to reflect on how
Jesus came into an ordinary event and how the ordinary became extraordinary because of his presence in their midst and as a result, the ordinary becomes abundant. There was not just sufficient wine, there was an abundance of wine.

In Ephesians 3: 20, Paul says this: “God is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine”. Jesus says in John 10:10: “I have come so that you may have life, and have it in abundance”.

It may not feel like we are living abundantly at the present but I do feel we are loving abundantly. Gods grace is abundantly given to us when we ask for it.

And so we pray that God, grants us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.

May the abundant grace of our lord Jesus Christ, the unfailing love of God, and the transforming fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, ever more. Amen

Tuesday 5th May

It’s a year ago now that I was very privileged to take part in a pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine with our ministry team and a year ago today, we found ourselves in the little town of Nazareth.

Nazareth Old Town is a beautiful little place. It tiny narrow streets transported me back into biblical times: it was very much like the first place, we visited Jaffa, which Jenny spoke about last week. What struck me most when we arrived there was how peaceful and quiet it was and that was because it was the Sabbath. Now in Israel the Sabbath is observed by Christians as its day of rest and apart from the churches which opened for services that morning everything else was closed except for little eating place where we could get something to eat and a drink. So we spent most of the afternoon staying in our accommodation which was in an old Ottoman house: a very beautiful little place very typical of its times. we also saw a Greek Orthodox Christian christening when we wondered put at lunch time for a bite to eat.

Now Nazareth has a great significance for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, it was the place where Visitation of Mary took place where the Gabriel visited Mary to tell Her she would have a child and call him Jesus.
Secondly it was Jesus’s childhood home and thirdly it was the place where Jesus started his ministry and that is what I’d like to focus on today.

Jesus announced his ministry in the synagogue with words from with words from Luke Chapter 4 verses 16-19 “
“When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the sabbath and stood up to read the scriptures. The scroll of Isiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written. “the spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring God News to the poor. He has sent me to Proclaim that captives will be released, and the blind will see, and the oppressed will be set free the time of the Lords favour has come”

Now I’d always assumed and imagined that the synagogue where Jesus announced the commencement of his ministry would be quite a big place within the little town. It would have been be a significant place of worship and with that I imagined it being bigger than some of the surrounding buildings. But I could have been further from the truth: It was in fact a very small building. We eventually found the synagogue in a little narrow street, through a tiny small courtyard and it wasn’t very big at all: just a small rectangular room. What struck me was the fact that this most important message at the start of Jesus announcing his ministry happened in such a tiny building in such a small village. And the result of this announcement, was after three years of Jesus’ ministry within Galilee and the surrounding areas, Christianity was to spread around the world beginning on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples.

Now Interestingly last Sunday was vocation Sunday: a Sunday when we think about all the different ways we can be called to serve God. Vocations aren’t just about those who have been called to serve God in the ministry as Priests, but of the many other ways in which we can be called. We can be called to serve as deacons, we can be called serve as lay ministers. We can be called to serve with any office within the church or anything we do in the church: we can be called to Choristers we can be called to be the organist. We can be called to arrange the flowers. We can be called to be doctors nurses paramedics. We can be called to be social workers, carers, teachers, lorry drivers, delivery drivers, refuse collectors. Retail workers, plumbers, electricians the list is endless. What is important is that whatever gifts we are given we are called to do them in different ways. We are called by God to minister within whatever circumstances and situations, we find ourselves in.

In today’s situation, with the Corona virus circulating around the globe, we are having to think of how we serve God in different ways . As ministers of the church we are having to find different ways of serving and reaching out to our congregations and to our communities. We are having to learn to use things like social media and learn to video and do online services: things that are often very much our comfort zone and we are having to learn new skills. We’ve had to learn how to do our shopping in different ways. We’ve had to learn how to care for each other in different ways. We’re having to learn how to socialise together in different ways. I’m sure online quizzes and virtual family gatherings and gatherings of friends are becoming the norm at the moment
But one thing remains the same and that is the fact that we are God’s hands and God’s feet. It doesn’t matter how we minister or where we minister. We are called to be God’s hands, God’s feet, Gods’ voice, God’s eyes and God’s ears in this world in whatever situation we find ourselves in and in whichever way we are able to do this

As Mother Teresa of Avila says:
“’ Christ has no body now but yours. No hands , no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walked to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands yours are the feet yours are the eyes you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

And our calling don’t have come form big beginnings. Just as Jesus began his ministry over 2000 years ago in a tiny village in Palestine, our ministries too can begin from anywhere: large or small places, among large or small groups of people, and the effects will spread out among the community in the way God intends them too.

Now I’d like to leave you with a verse from Ephesians 30: 20
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all geberations for ever and ever: Amen “

May the grace of God be seen in your eyes
may the peace of God be heard in your words,
may the love of God be shown in your hand,
May the joy of God be sung in your heart
Amen generations forever and ever: Amen ”

Monday 3rd 

You are Lord of all the seasons.
You are the Lord of all time and hold the world in your hands

1. ‘In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth.’
We praise you O God , we acclaim you as Lord; all creation worships you , the Father everlasting, heaven and earth are full of your glory.

God of new beginnings , we meet you here on hard clay, hungry slugs and stubborn weeds, failures and half finished projects, in dying and decay.
In your name we offer thanks for worms and mould, patiently transforming waste into fertility , sharing the labour with us .
And so we thank God for hands to dig the soil. Thank God for legs to share the load.

Thank God for eyes to see the stranger.
Thank God for hearts to welcome them home.
The Song ‘ What a wonderful world’ Sung by children.


Friday 1st May

Jen Writes

This day last year a group of us were in Jaffa, Israel. It was actually one of my favourite days.

Located at the southern most part of Tel Aviv, Jaffa known as Joppa in the bible was originally inhabited sometime around 7500BC. It is a natural harbor that has held great military and monetary significance. The famous Jaffa oranges were produced and exported from here.

The Bible speaks of Jaffa many times, first in Joshua 19. It was the port used by Solomon to build the Temple (2 Chronicles 2:16) and where Jonah left for Tarshish before spending time inside a whale. In the New Testament, in Acts, Tabitha was brought back to life by Peter in Joppa. Soon after, God gave Peter the vision of the unclean animals and commanded him to preach the Gospel to Gentiles and Jews alike. Both of these events took place at the home of Simon the Tanner. Catholics believe that the home was actually at the current site of St Peter’s Church. Wherever the actual site may be, I think it is amazing to think what happened in this area and how it changed the world as God made known that his Grace was for everyone!

In Jaffa, Peter was divinely led to “think out of the box”. And I think that is why it was one of my favourite places to visit. It was also very quite easy from the more popular Holy Land sites. The story in Acts finds Peter on the rooftop of the House of Simon the Tanner, where he had his famous vision.

I’m going to read from Acts 10.5-16

“Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; 6 he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, 8 and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa.
9 About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” 15 The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven”

The vision in Joppa led him to preach the Gospel to the gentiles at Caesarea. A big change in direction for Peter. A transformation. And it’s hard at this time not to sense a similar change in direction and transformation as we continue to go about our lives in isolation. We try and find new ways of doing church and ministry. New ways to maintain our friendships and relationships. And it is difficult. If you are like me there are a run of good days and then a down day will appear to throw you off track.

And that is why I loved Jaffa and the story of Peter. The central events of St Peter’s life show a man of simplicity and faith. He suffered from a common human ailment: he wanted to do and be good, but was not always able to live up to his goals. Jesus loved and forgave him, because whenever Peter fell, he got up and tried again. And that is what we do, we drag ourselves out of bed and try again. As the psalmist says

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

1 Peter – 14 says even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord.

Let us pray,
Lord we pray for all those people struggling with change. We pray for all those with fear. We pray for all people directly effected by the covid 19 pandemic be it through illness or loss of loved ones and colleagues. Peter means rock and we thank you for our rock at this time- all the NHS staff working tireless to help those in need. And like Peter we pray that we may all be transformed in a positive way by our current experience.

Almighty God,
who inspired your apostle Saint Peter
to confess Jesus as Christ and Son of the living God:
build up your Church upon this rock,
that in unity and peace it may proclaim one truth
and follow one Lord, your Son our Saviour Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

So let’s always be open to God’s changes and ways that we do not understand and that sometimes conflict with everything we’ve been brought up to believe but let’s trust that He is leading and the eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are His everlasting arms.

Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”


Friday 1st May: Julia Writes

A leap of faith 

” by faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later recieve as his inheritance, obeyed and went , even through he did not know where he was going” Hebrews 11:8

Grey squirrels look very attractive bouncing around the garden, but they lost their popularity with me when one of them chewed its way into our loft. It caused several hundred pounds of damage biting through electric cables. The house insurance didn’t cover it- squirrels are classed as vermin. Read the small print.

But yesterday ,I watched one squirrel in the garden. He was on the flat roof of a garage just the other side of our hawthorn hedge. He was abit agitated, running one way, then another. Suddenly, he took a massive leap, out and up, to the branch of a tree that must have been ten feet away. An enormous jump for such a small animal. He made it-just. Then with a twitch of his bushy tail he was away into new territory.

I don’t know why he jumped. Maybe he’d been scarred by something I couldn’t see. Perhaps he saw an opportunity ahead of him. Whatever it was he had the courage to take a leap of faith. To move on from where he was. A leap into the unknown.

Eddie Askew: Love is a Wild bird.

We have a squirrel who visits our garden and during the lockdown I have spent time watching him running around and feeding from the bird feeders.

Then he’ll run along the fence and jump off into a tree in nextdoors  garden: a leap into the unknown.

We too are finding ourselves in unknown territory just now. The days seem to run into each other: we find ourselves having to make decisions and yet we find it difficult because we don’t even know what the immediate future is going to be like never mind the long term future. Things change from day to day. We long to be able to ” get back to normal” and yet we don’t know what that ” normal” will look like. So life’s not very easy at the moment. But what we do know is that we have had to change  our ways of doing things and when lockdown is eased, we will have to move on. When circumstances change or new opportunities arise, we have to do something so we have to have courage. We have to be like that squirrel  and take that leap of faith into the unknown, Just like Abraham, we don’t necessarily know how things will turn out, but we can be assured that we are never on our own because God is always there walking alongside us waiting to help.

Faithful one

Tuesday 28th April : Julia Writes

Calming the storm 

Ive been inspired these last few weeks by watching the TV programme “Race across the World” Five teams of two have to navigate their way across various countries with just a map and a certain set amount of money. They can use any means of transport except flying and have to cross 5 check points before reaching their final destination. The team in this series consisted of: a husband and wife, an uncle and nephew, a mother and son, a brother and sister and 2 friends.

Throughout the race, all the teams found themselves facing a multitude of challenges ranging from lack of resources, illness, unrest in one country resulting in one team being airlifted out and a constant risk of running out of money.

They had to find work to sustain themselves and learnt to seek and accept help from total strangers. Apart from the competitiveness within themselves( it was a race after al), they found inner strength, love, compassion, companionship, and learnt self resilience and self respect along the way.

I found the whole race additive and inspiring and admired the way in which each team faced up to their challenges and found a way through them.

We are now entering week 6 of lockdown due to the Corona virus circulation and causing havoc among us bringing utter despair, frustration and anguish. Yet among all of this we are also experiencing an outpouring of love and compassion, of dedication and respect to others, of self resilience and self respect, and an inner strength that manu of us never knew we had.

Of course we all have ups and downs and ther are times when we feel that this storm will never end and the news reels seem so negative and destressing. Im reminded of the story of the calming of the storm.

Luke 8:22-24 One day he and his disciples got in a boat. “Let’s cross the lake,” he said. And off they went. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
Getting to his feet, he told the wind, “Silence!” and the waves, “Quiet down!” They did it. The lake became smooth as glass.
25 Then he said to his disciples, “Why can’t you trust me?”
They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, “Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!” Message bible

some of these disciples were experienced fishermen : they knew the dangers  of the Sea of Galilee and how these storms could suddenly whip up, so they weren’t frightened without good course.

Just as we today can feel frightened and anxious it isn’t without good course. But as Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, God calms the storms in our lives. He understands our fears today as we live through this storm of Covid -19. We see him walking alongside us through the love and compassion people are showing to others: often complete strangers as we care for each other. When we feel overwhelmed, maybe we can just take a deep breath and ask God to help us to be calm and relives our anxieties.

Heavenly Father,                                                                                                                                be a soothing voice within the storms that often seem to overwhelm us,                     calming the waters through witch we sail,                                                                                  Stilling the winds that would divert us                                                                                        and guide us safely throughout this day. Amen

Julia Writes

Hope for tomorrow 

Psalm 30:5: Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

I woke early today and sat outside listening to the dawn chorus: the birds flying from tree to tree, bush to bush, calling out to one another. The sun was raising , pushing away the night sky and a gentle breeze was in the air and the morning dew glistening on the grass.

Amidst all the difficulties and challenges we are all facing  came the joy of a new day, The joy of the continuing renewal of creation; the renewal and healing of God’s world.

This reminded me of hope: of hope in God’s healing through the resurrection of Jesus: that the situation we find ourselves in is not the end : that hope and light come out of the darkness.

We continue to pray for all those suffering from the effects of Covid-19: for those who are ill at home and in hospitals, for those in care homes and hospices. We pray for those who care for them: medics, nurses, ancillary staff, GP surgeries, paramedics and family and friends caring for those at home and for those who are vulnerable.

God of compassion and love, we offer you all our suffering and pain.                               Give us strength to bear our weakness,                                                                                healing even when there is no cure,                                                                                          peace in the midst of turmoil                                                                                                         and love to fill the spaces in our lives.                                                                                         Amen                                                                                                                                                   Iona Abbey worship

Easter Sunday: Julia Writes 

    cross                       He is Risen: He is risen indeed
We find ourselves waking up to a different kind of Easter this morning: not a” different Easter” but “a different way of celebrating Easter”. I found myself outside in my garden at dawn listening to worship and reflection via my computer as I lit my own Easter Candle and held it up to celebrate the risen Lord, the light of Christ coming once again among us.
This was the first time I have ever celebrated the Resurrection of Christ on my own and it was a rather beautiful yet emotional time. I must admit I had tears in my eyes, because of the enormity of the times we find ourselves in. I felt alone for a few minutes but then I realised I was not alone: so many of us are celebrating this Easter together: not in our churches but in our own homes connected by prayer and social media, Television and telephones.
It lead me to think about Mary: the first person and woman to find the empty tomb and to see our Risen Lord. How confusing it must have been for her: still in shock after the dreadful events of the past few days, tormented by grief and then finding Jesus’ body was not there. Then as she sits weeping, she hears a voice, looks up and sees Jesus standing the. She doesn’t recognise him at first but when Jesus speaks she immediately knows it is him.
Despair turns to joy: joy that Jesus’ death was not the end but the beginning:The beginning of a new life. What was once dark was now filled with glorious light.
Today ,we find ourselves in a difficult challenging, unbelievable place while a dangerous virus sweeps across the world. We too are wondering when this will all end and when we can return to ” some of normality”.
Today as we celebrate Easter, we see God at work among us, walking alongside those who suffer in many ways and those who are caring for them.
As Mary and the disciples lives were changed for ever, so will our lives be changed because of our experiences. But we can be assured that we are not alone, that the risen Christ is moving among us and that the light will does shine through the darkness.
May you all have a very blessed Easter


Easter EveHoly Saturday/Easter Eve: Julia Writes 

Nearly a year ago now I had the privilege to visit Israel with our ministry team. After spending wonderful day in Jerusalem where we ” walked the way of the cross” we found ourselves at the garden tomb: a contested burial site where some feel Jesus was laid to rest
Whether this was Jesus burial site or not I it didn’t really matter. After the hustle bustle and noise of the city, I found a feeling of peace here: a feeling of tranquillity.
Holy Saturday is a quite day: imagine the disciples , gathered in that upper room, hiding and in fear. Not knowing what to do. Frightened to venture out for fear of being recognised. Perhaps wondering what on earth this had all being about. Tormented with grief.
I found myself sat in my own garden this morning, quite and peaceful, listening to the birds in the early morning mist, thinking, wondering how on earth we had come to be I the situation we are all in just now.
This year, our journey to the cross with Jesus has been very different: as the virus Covid-19 engulfs our world, we too find ourselves alone in our homes, isolated, fearing to venture out. Those who have to venture out to work, to care for the sick and dying , the venerable and needy, do so in fear: for themselves , for those they work alongside and for those they care for.
This year, we spend time in silence as the world as we know it has come to a standstill. We can feel surrounded by darkness and feel the world and our lives will never be the same again.
We have the benefit of knowing the next part of this journey but the disciples didn’t. They waited in silence, anxious and in fear: maybe as we feel at this moment in time.
And yet ,as we sit and wait for this currant disease to pass, we can rest in the knowledge that God is in the midst of it all. We are not abandoned and alone. God is here walking alongside us. How do we know this: because we know that Christ will be risen again and live among us
So today, as we await the risen Lord, let us enjoy the sun, let us make that Easter Garden, let us talk to our family via social media and phone, let us care for those ill, isolated and alone and let the light over come the darkness.
” for the light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it” John 1: 5

Good Friday: Cameron Writes

I share with you a post I received from my brother(Joe) this morning. May we open ourselves to and embrace the love of God expressed through the life and ministry of his Son Jesus Christ self-giving love especially through his death on the Cross and his Resurrection. 🌈🙏😇
‘Morning Family & Friends,
It is GOOD FRIDAY or should I say “It’s the BEST FRIDAY”
Opening Scripture:(John 19:28,30)“After this, Jesus knew that everything had been done. So that the Scripture would come true, he said, ‘I am thirsty’ . . . When Jesus tasted the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and died.”
Important Truth: The only person ever to finish everything he had on his plate before he died was Jesus. Scripture: John 4:34, Jesus said, “My food is to do what God wants! He is the one who sent me, and I must finish the work that he gave me to do”
Fortunately for you and me, Jesus did finish the work God gave him. Right before Jesus died on the cross on the first Good Friday, the Bible says, “After this, Jesus knew that everything had been done. So that the Scripture would come true, he said, ‘I am thirsty’ . . . When Jesus tasted the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and died” (John 19:28, 30
WHEN JESUS SAYS IT’S FINISHED, “It is finished,” it was a shout of victory. The phrase is a single word in the original Greek: tetelestai. It was a very common word in ancient Greek society with many meanings. When Jesus said these words on the cross, he was referring to each of the meanings: It was used by servants and employees who return to their master with news they had finished the task.
Jesus had finished the task God had given him.
1. It’s a legal term judges would use to announce that a prisoner had completely served his prison time. Jesus made sure that justice had been served for our sin.
2. It was an accounting term meaning a debt had been paid in full. Jesus completely paid our debt.
3. Artists used the term when painting a picture to denote their final stroke. Jesus’ sacrifice finished God’s great masterpiece by making it possible for the pinnacle of his creation—us—to be redeemed from our sin.
4. Priests used the term when they offered a sacrifice to God to say, “The sacrifice has been made.” Jesus’ death on the cross was the sacrifice for our sin.
A SINGLE WORD “FINISHED”. is what separates Christianity from every other religion on the planet.
All other religions are about what you need to do to be right with God.
JESUS SAYS: “It is finished.” You don’t need to do anything to have access to God. He’s done everything!
May you have a very blessed Easter!

Good Friday: Julia Writes

This morning we ,at St Hugh’s, planned to have our Good Friday Activity Morning for children. This year we had planned to tell them the meaning of the Easter Story through the legend of ” the three trees and a king. We were planning to have lots of activities including games, baking Easter biscuits, making Easter Gardens, planting a willow tree in our little garden we are developing, making wall hangings telling the story of three Trees and a King and having an Easter Egg Hunt in the church along with music and songs.

Sadly we cant do this this year but Easter is still happening. This year we find ourselves walking alongside Jesus through this Easter Journey in our own homes connecting through social media. We can still have our activity morning together with our families and so here is the story of ” The Three Trees and a King. Maybe you would like to have a go at some of the activities above. Then take some photos of what you have made and share them with us: we will celebrate Easter together.

Three trees                         

 The Story of the Three Trees and a King

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up.
The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: “I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I’ll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!”
The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. “I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I’ll be the strongest ship in the world!”
The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. “I don’t want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me, they’ll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.”
Years passed. The rain came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain.
The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, “This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell.
“Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest. I shall hold wonderful treasure!” the first tree said.
The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, “This tree is strong. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell.
“Now I shall sail mighty waters!” thought the second tree. “I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!”
The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven.
But the woodcutter never even looked up. “Any kind of tree will do for me,” he muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell.
The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenter’s shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feedbox for animals.
The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, nor with treasure. She was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.
The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead, the once strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail on an ocean, or even a river; instead, she was taken to a little lake.
The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard.
“What happened?” the once tall tree wondered. “All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God…”
Many, many days and night passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams.
But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feedbox.
“I wish I could make a cradle for him,” her husband whispered.
The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and the sturdy wood. “This manger is beautiful,” she said.
And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.
One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake.
Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through with the wind and the rain.
The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, “Peace.” The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun.
And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.
One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man’s hands to her.
She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.
But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth tremble with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God’s love had changed everything.
It had made the third tree strong.
And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God.
That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.
The next time you feel down because you didn’t get what you want, sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.
Source unknown

Maundy Thursday

Remember Me

A reflection by the Ven Mark Steadman, Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey ” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”


Jesus was still speaking, when Judas the betrayer came up. He was one of the twelve disciples, and a large mob armed with swords and clubs was with him. They had been sent by the chief priests and the nation’s leaders. Judas had told them ahead of time, “Arrest the man I greet with a kiss.”Judas walked right up to Jesus and said, “Hello, teacher.” Then Judas kissed him. Jesus replied, “My friend, why are you here?” The men grabbed Jesus and arrested him. One of Jesus’ followers pulled out a sword. He struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. But Jesus told him, “Put your sword away. Anyone who lives by fighting will die by fighting. Don’t you know that I could ask my Father, and right away he would send me more than twelve armies of angels? But then, how could the words of the Scriptures come true, which say that this must happen?”
(Matthew 26.47-54)

Judas’ betrayal comes to its fulfilment as he arrives with a mob to arrest Jesus. For Judas to call Jesus ‘teacher’ and kiss him on the cheek was an insult that not only identifies Jesus to the mob but also shows his utter rejection of Jesus. Jesus responds with the word ‘friend’, perhaps to remind him of his place at the Last Supper. In cutting off the servant’s ear, perhaps Peter misreads the situation – Jesus is not a helpless victim who needs defending, he is in absolute control of these events.In Christ alone

When darkness seems to hide his face
I rest on his unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the saviour’s love
Through the storm, he is Lord, Lord of all

Are you facing difficult situations today? Ask Jesus to help you trust that he is in control.

Tuesday: Julia Writes 

“Servanthood is an attitude exemplified by Christ “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:6-7).

This morning Clergy from around the diocese would have been gathering in Lincoln Cathedral where we would have joined together in the renewal of our ministerial vows: of our commitment to ministry. Although we are unable now come together physically, we will be following a service online as we renew our commitment in a new way: the way of technology.

We are, as deacons, priests and bishops , called to be servants of Christ: servants wherever and in whatever situation we find ourselves: and none is more strange and challenging as we find ourselves today. We , along with all everyone , have found ourselves isolated from our families, friends colleagues and form you all: our congregations and parishes.

Over these past few weeks life has changed immeasurably for all of us and we are having to find new ways of ” being servants of Christ” What is remarkable is that in these rather dark and difficult times, we have seen so many give selflessly of themselves: Heath care works, Retail worker, teachers, delivery drivers, neighbours looking after the elderly and those more venerable to illness, comforting the sick and the bereaved: the list is endless and very humbling.

So in these times we find ourselves in, may we all continue to be ” servants of Christ” in the many different ways we are experiencing.

As Mother Teresa of Avila says
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

May you continue to know Gods presence and blessing in your lives and through this Holy Week.
Brother ,Sister, Let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you
pray that I may have the grace, to let you be my servant to.

We are pilgrims on a journey, fellow travellers on the road                                                      we are here to help each other,walk the mile and bear the load

I will hold the Christ light for you, in the night time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you want to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping. when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow, till we’re seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven, we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together, of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.


John 11:1-2 “Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with Ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother  Lazarus was ill”

Almighty and everlasting God
who in your tender love towards the human race
sent you Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross;
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be partakers of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you. in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God , now and for ever,

Light of the world, you stepped into the darkness, opened my eyes, let me see the beauty that made this heart adore you, hope of a life spent with you.

King of all days, oh so highly exalted, glorious in heaven above; humbly you came to the earth you created, all for loves sake became poor.

So here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that you’re my God. And your altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me.

And you’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross, and you’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.

So here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that you’re my God. And your altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me.

Tim Hughes

Palm Sunday; Julia writes

palmsun_4038c“Life is full of ups and downs. Glorify God during the ups and fully trust in Him during the downs.”: Anon

Today many of us would normally be in church with our palm crosses and branches celebrating Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem.

This year is so different for all of us. Rather then being part of a visible crowd singing “Hossana’s to our King”, we find ourselves isolating at home separated from our family and friends. We are all on a very different journey to what we have experienced and yet through all this chaos and fear, we see communities  coming together: walking this journey together. Many are giving selflessly of themselves: working in extremely difficult conditions: caring for the sick, comforting the beavered, providing food and provisions for those unable to leave their homes, working in retail, providing home delivery meals and the many other numerous ways in which we are coming together to care for one another.

As we begin our journey with Jesus through Holy week , a very different journey for many of us this year, may we remember that although we cannot be part of a visible crowd, we are very much part of a crowd: through modern technology, through telephone contact , through our  caring for others, through prayer.

As we journey with Jesus through holy week , sharing in his suffering and that of many others around us, may we know the peace and love of God in our hearts and homes.

When I survey the wonderous Cross on which the prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it Lord ,that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God: all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood.

See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingling down: did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small; love so amazing , so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

Issac Watts(1674-1748)



A prayer for those doing school at home today: written by a child

Dear God, thankyou for my cosy home. Thankyou that you are here with me. Help me to learn new things today about your world. Fill my mind with joy and delight. Help me to be patient if I haven’t got a garden to run around in. Please heal the people that are ill and help the doctors and nurses who are looking after them. Please keep us all safe and thankyou for being my friend -Always


Looking after our mental health due these challenging times.

The effects of mental health problems are huge. Nearly nine out of ten people with mental health problems have been affected by stigma and discrimination. Given the challenging times we are living in with coronavirus, the reflections in this booklet were updated and new resources written in March 2020. They seek to provide hope, reassurance and comfort.
If you want to speak to someone, please visit the Mental Health Foundation website, which has lots of helpful resources and contacts. Visit http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk.
Written by Professor Chris Cook and accompanied by “have a go” habits developed by Ruth Rice

The following webpage has a daily focus of different aspects of isolation and ways in which we can use scripture and prayer to support us.


http://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/mental-health resources

Gracious Father,
you gave up your Son
out of love for the world:
lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion,
that we may know eternal peace
through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood, Jesus Christ our Lord.


untitledclipart mission“Since I have neither bread nor wine nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols… I will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and suffering of the world.”
Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Sunday: Passion Sunday

Such llove symbolove:

Such love pure, pure as the whitest snow; such love, weeps for the shame I know; Such love, paying the debt I owe; O Jesus such love.

Such love, Stilling my restlessness; such love; filling my emptiness; such love; showing me holiness; O Jesus, such love.

Such love springs from eternity; such love, streaming through history; such love, fountain of life to me; O Jesus, such love


Merciful God,
we entrust to your tender care
those who are ill or in pain,
knowing that whenever danger threatens
your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe.
Comfort and heal them,
and restore them to health and strength;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.



Lord, you taught us to love our neighbour and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you. In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend to the sick and to assure the isolated of our love and your love. In your names sake : Amen



NAJH7688 (1)Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our