imagine what is was like for the shepherds ….

shepherdsTonight, the third of our Advent meditations was based on the Shepherds.
You can read it below and hear it here.

can you imagine

for a little while

what is was like for the shepherds?

They were outcasts

not merely living on the edge of the city

but totally outside the protection of its walls

the lowest



no one wanted to be near the shepherds

Have you ever felt


or worse


hear the words of God:

‘I am bringing YOU yes you

you sat there

you thinking you are worthless, ignored, alone

I am bringing you good news of great joy’

How does knowing that God comes to you

that God searches you out

make you feel?

When you get that good news of great joy

what would be your response?

would you run home and share it with those close?

would you keep it to yourself?

would you tell everybody you could find?

What would that good news of great joy look like for you today

Spend some time now

talking to God about what that would look like


tonight …. how do you respond to what you have heard?


imagine what is was like for Joseph

The second of our meditations, this time from the character or viewpoint of Joseph.

The meditation is shared below.

You may can hear the audio version here.

can you imagine

for a little while

what is was like for Joseph?

A righteous man

a kind man

a person that would never want to embarrass anybody

definitely not Mary

even if he felt incredibly hurt

or let down

How do you react if you feel let down by someone?

Do you seek revenge?

or do you try to keep things quiet and dignified?

talk to God about that

People must have thought Joseph was daft

maybe a bit of a mug

believing a ridiculous story

how did he cope with that pressure?

how do you cope with the pressure

of others talking about you?

others laughing at you?

others not trusting you?

Joseph had his own visitation

from an angel

in a dream

with that message to say Mary was telling the truth

God spoke right into Joseph’s life

And Jospeh listened and acted accordingly

Do you believe God speaks today?

Do you think God would want to speak to you?

Have you had a dream and wondered

whether it was God?

Have you listened … or dismissed it?

thinking it to be your imagination?

When was the last time

you gave yourself a chance to hear God?

Sit now

and listen

ask God to speak ….


what do you hear?

imagine what is was like for Mary …

mary-icon-1461514928In HTGP we are looking at Advent in an even more contemplative way than we do normally.

Rather than listen to homilies as we normally do, this season we have decided to replace the homily with a short guided meditation which is attempting to help us put ourselves in the story, though a variety of characters, and ask ourselves some relevant questions.

Last week we took the character of Mary … the mediation is shared below ….
You can hear the audio version here.


Can you imagine

for a little while

what it was like for Mary?

A young woman.

A faithful woman.

A person going about her normal everyday business, not harming others, being helpful, being ‘good’ … whatever good looks like!

God called her ‘favoured one.’

Did you realise …

God calls you the same …. does that description fit you?

What description would you use …. tell God that description ….. what is God’s response to you?

Can you imagine that day for Mary?

She was clearing the cellar, singing away to herself when it happened.

An angel … bright as could be was suddenly there



from nowhere

I wonder how she felt?

How would you have felt?

Would you have stayed …. or run ….

Would you have listened ….. or frozen in fear

And that message

you will be carrying The King of the universe

Awesome ….. or scary?

But of course

Jesus lives in our hearts

so essentially

we are all pregnant with Jesus

What effect does that have on us?

on our normal everyday matter of fact life?

Maybe, like Mary, you feel to unimportant to carry Jesus

Maybe, like Mary, you think you are too young

Maybe, like Mary, you fear no one will believe you

But …. Jesus lives in you … and me … and all of us

Whether we recognise Jesus or not

He is here

As we sit and stare at Jesus

and Jesus at us

listen to what Jesus is saying  ……


What does the son of God say to you tonight?


turning a corner … ?

Yesterday seemed to be a good day for HTGP.

In the afternoon we held Making@Church.
After a massively encouraging first event we were surprised to see only one family attend. That one family have loved it so much they have come, on their own, for the last 3 months. Yesterday 3 more families joined them which is not exciting and impressive. I had got to the stage where I was genuinely starting to ‘feel’ for the sole family as it can seem quite awkward with only a few people there.
Yesterday we told the story of Noah and the lego creations are pretty impressive. Even the one with rocket launchers on the front!

In the evening we held 18:01 and Katie, who is on placement with the East Greenwich Parish before going down the ordination route, spoke incredibly well on the Parable of the Talents. Her message may be heard here.

Again we had a good attendance and to seems that the 5 new people, all be it one family, are coming each week (twice yesterday) and it felt like a bit of a key day when a corner may have been turned. We are now very visible and I wonder what the community thinks is happening on a Sunday night inside our bit of a goldfish bowl.


vision …

October I finally got around to starting the Pioneer MA with CMS. For some reason I have not said anything about it here …. but early signs are that it is going to be an amazing course. Certainly the lectures are stimulating and my new pioneer MA friends are a great and creative bunch of people. I’ve been wanting to do the for a while, and now seems to be the right time.

For our first model we are looking at leadership. I’ve learned masses about different leadership models … and my head is sinning a bit as I get to grips with the idea of writing an essay. Yes … with the idea of writing one .. not actually writing one just yet!

I’ve resonated and been challenged by a lot of what we have covered so far …. but I really REALLY love this quote from Cameron Harder’s ‘Discovering the Other‘:

assetsIt’s not the leader’s job to cast a vision or imagine a future for the congregation or community. Ideas emerge as people listen to each other and talk to each other. The leaders task is to facilitate, coalesce and connect ideas, to catalyse and stimulate the development of vision.

I guess I love that because that is what I try to do. That is kind of my preferred style of leadership. Obviously you can’t get through life leading like that because some things need short sharp decisions, like crossing the road at a safe time.

But back to this quote I love ……  discuss …. should / does vision come from one person called ‘the leader’ or does it come a process where it is stimulated in discussion and interaction … or is it a bit both/and ….. or something completely different?

Being Still … part last (I think)

So … I have now been back from retreat for a week.
Every evening my adopted new practice of saying Northumbria Compline has happened (I simply love the Monday night words!)  … even when waking at 2am on the sofa, compile was still said before going to bed!
Most days I have managed to do Centring Prayer, and obviously as an obedient Anglian Priest, Morning Prayer is always said anyway.

With these practices I am able to maintain perspective and continue in the vein of ‘all will be well’. I’m not quite sure what will happen, nor what the future holds. But I can believe that all will be well.

Sometimes practices adopted on retreats can be too demanding, or can be dropped too easily … I am hoping I have found a good balance here and early signs seem to be good.

A number of people have said to me that they could not do silence for any length of time, let alone 5 days.
I would say do not underestimate yourself.
Try meditating for just 10 minutes a day ….
allow God to find you
and you to find yourself
and see what happens.

and the pictures this time …. well that’s just to show off a bit with the medieval room!


Being Still …. part 3

So … hope!
Following the ‘Wednesday experience’ of what I can only call a release, baggage dropping healing experience I came across Julian of Norwich. Obvs not physically but in the form of a translation of her meditations by Brendan Doyle … a simply but profound version which I have had on the bookshelf for years but only really leafed through …. until this day.

I think it is quite natural that after a time of release which reveals a way forward that concerns can often come crashing in. Julian of Norwich’s words came for me at quite a key time during the silence.

I probably should explain a little that Julian wrote these words at a time when the populist option of God was a hard task master, someone that needed to be feared and who wanted to finish people for their misdemeanours. Julian radically said because all of creation was created by God, who is good, then all creation is good, and that God loved and wanted to hang out with all, rather than punish people for stuff that was happening on God’s watch anyway! There’s a lot more to it than that, but that is a short Rob translation!

In particular two of Julians meditations spoke to me …. these are ‘words’ that Julian believed she heard from God …. which have been left for us to ponder, meditate upon, and consider in our lives.

Obviously all meditations and messages from God are open to interpretation and will be interpreted differently by different people art different times in different locations. But … in my silence and slow reading, these two meditations kind of jumped out of the page and bit me on the arse! One with God seemingly dissing the idea that God’s plan and our hope for our lives are wildly different … and the other with God almost laughingly say ….it’s ok … all will be ok …. which resonates with one of Julian’s more well known meditations :

I can make all things well,
I know how to make all things well,
I desire to make all things well,
I will make all things well.
And you shall see with your own eyes
that every kind of thing will be well.

I don’t know why these came as a surprise to me … yet again.
Its;s easy to forget I suppose.
I guess as we work and get swallowed up by being involved in the pressing and unimportant not only do we lose sight of the ‘important’ in our lives, but we lose sight of the vision of reality that God wants people to have their heart’s desire … and the even bigger truth that God really is taking care of us.

rails 2Those two meditations that jumped out at me coupled with the ‘all will be well’ word gave a strong sense of hope on Thursday morning. On my afternoon walk I came across a level crossing, and I know it’s not entirely safe but I took a photo looking down the rails. From my previous two days of quiet coming across these rails seemed again to be prophetic in it’s meaning to me. A meaning that there seems a clear way ahead … it’s long, a lot out of focus, but clear direction and a certain knowledge of what could be ahead … and that ‘all will be well’. This picture of the rails speaks to me in a way that reminds me that over the last 6 months or so I had drifted from the core of who I was … as I look back I have ideas why, but to dwell there would be pointless, other than to learn from the experience. Returning to the core of me in the knowledge that all will be well is pretty liberating!

I started the week not knowing why I had gone for 5 days of silence. My first conversation with Sr Ruth saw me saying ‘I do not know why I am here, but I know I need to be’. By the third and fourth days the reasons for being there seemed so obvious!

All things are well.
All things will be well.
And all manner of things shall be well.