The privilege of being asked

andy-islaYesterday I got to be involved in something really special and is one of those highlights of ministry that is not repeated too often. Yesterday I got to officiate at the wedding of Isla and Andy … Isla being the daughter of one of my best friends Jeremy, who I was ordained with and has been, along with his beautiful wife, Ruth, pretty central and to my life and encouraging since we met.

Weddings can be fun and yesterdays was!
The laughter, right from walking down the aisle, was pretty central to the whole ceremony and day … and I’ve never been to a wedding where the newly married couple walks out of church to ‘Madnesses ‘It must be love’. Genius!

The love between Andy and Isla is real and tangible … and I love how it’s welcoming and inclusive and attracts their friends, rather than embarrasses which many luvvy couples can inadvertently do without meaning to.

Yesterday I got to see this great couple make promises to each other, I got to see the look of love on their parents faces and I got to meet some amazing family members …. who know how to party and celebrate well … thank you for calling me ‘a member of the family’ … that means so so much! I look forward to meets in Ramsgate and Sunderland!

Thanks Andy and Isla for asking me … it’s been a massive massive privilege to serve you in this way and you’ll regularly be in my prayers.

genuine care – extraordinary people

imgresSunday was tinged with a little bit of imagessadness as I popped into St Marks on the occasion of the retirement of Peter Guinness. Peter has been the vicar of St Mark’s for the last 5 years and was particularly helpful in working with the bishop when I was looking to move back to Gillingham after my curacy came to an end at the cathedral.

Over the last few years I have come to see Peter and Michele as good friends who have shown both genuine love and care for my work but also in me as a person. They have big ministries and sometimes people with big ministries become aloof. Pete and Michele have stayed ‘grounded’ …. pretty ordinary but extraordinary people. As individuals and a couple they have a unique way of sharing wisdom and care ….. I will miss them being around.

Thanks Pete and Michele for your encouragement and love. Thank you for all that you are, for the love and vision you have shared with many … and blessings for your time ahead …. it’s clear God still has some more challenges for you yet.

Go well … and I pray our paths will cross again sometime soon.

unholy three

pierced_trinity-_patrick_colhounloads of things have been happening over last few weeks and I have lots of blog posts written in my head which need to find their way via my keyboard to this space …. but time and inclination to write is limited … but

well …. I’ve only come here today really to signpost to the blog of my good, great and amazing friend Andrea. She has blogged here today an amazing poem. Go read!

That is all!

I sigh … but it’s nooooo problem!

DSC_0419Its been a long summer and as I look back I sigh with a smile.

I have spoken of great weddings earlier and I ventured back to Detling, which I will write about at another time, and on Sunday I returned from a 2 week break in Antigua.

I love the island of Antigua. A large part of having a great holiday is the quality of the company. We went with a special group of people who I simply love to bits. A highlight (and DSC_0121there were lots!)  of my day, always, without fail, was having breakfast together as a group of 12 people …. and lunch … and dinner after pre-dinner drinks! There is something sacred about spending quality time and eating together and talking and suddenly realising that breakfast has nearly taken 90 mins! It was like time stood still … but then it all flew by so quickly as well.

I look back and sigh, though, not just due to missing the company, missing eating and drinking together each day …. I actually miss something about the island. It was not until I was writing my prayer email to supporters that I think part of the answer dawned on me.

DSC_0105The atmosphere and attitude on the island to me also seem to have something of the scared about them. The stereotypical ‘no problem’ attitude is a reality which is beautiful to both witness and be in receipt of. I think some people struggle more to accept this than others, because it demands a slowing down, and sometimes people avoid slowing down …. I wonder whether that is because they are scared a little of allowing themselves to catch themselves up! When we slow down we notice things we have to deal with. Antiguan people walked proudly … and I don’t know for sure … but I guess they have a better idea of who they are because they don’t spend their lives running from themselves.

I say this attitude has something sacred about it because i think it is an incredibly powerful illustration of Jesus’ words to us about worrying in Matthew 5:25-34:

“Therefore I say to you,  do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? “Which of you by worrying can add one 10cubit to his 11 stature?  “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not 12 arrayed like one of these.  “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

DSC_0440For a long time I will have an image of the crew of a catamaran leading all 12 of us in the words of Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ as we pulled alongside the jetty … another sacred experience that will bring those words of Jesus to life for me in a unique way.

Thank you friends for being trustworthy … thank you Antigua for being beautifully welcoming … thank you God for grabbing me to slow me down …. again!

Once in a while …

wedding-rings-wallpaper1Once in a while being ordained brings some pretty amazing surprises and privileges. I have one such privilege over the next few days as I travel to Seattle to marry a pretty special couple who I have got to know, mainly from my placement at COTA and their time with me in Rochester.

I feel undeserving of such an experience but am feeling very excited to be able to take part in a ceremony of such significance and beauty for a couple I have come to care deeply about. The service will be beautiful and reflects well the couple I have got to know.

So … as a sideline as well I am off to drink coffee, hopefully a porter or two, check out some sights and meet with some old friends …. but most of all I get to play a small part in a pretty special and amazing day for Meghan and Lucas.

Once in a while …. we find ourselves in special places … amazing!

sometimes Jesus just isn’t enough!

DSC_1308Today was an encouraging day which showed me, in quite a special way, how much ‘progress’, if that is at all the correct word, that has been made in the High Street engaging with people.

Today I met with my good friend Terry and we went for a coffee and a chat. We went to my normal morning cafe where I naturally engaged with a number of people, from the staff to a few of the customers. On our way back down the High Street a couple of other people spoke to me or said hello in a variety of ways.

Normally I would not have been so conscious of these interactions. My friends presence and reaction, however, reminded me that something amazing has happened and is actually continuing to happen in the High Street area. I only need to go back a very few months and I remember numerous times when I was close to tears due to the lack of pattern and engagement that I was encountering with the local community. I felt unrooted, disorientated, disposed of, but most of all isolated, and came incredibly incredibly close to simply stopping and getting a real job!

Things have happened so slowly and relationships have developed in small, often indistinguishable steps: a hello from the waitress has become ‘hello gorgeous’ (well … maybe that’s a big step!!!), a nod has become a handshake, a smile has become a ‘how are you?’, the ‘nice to see you’ has become a conversation about Thor being real and Jesus being fictional.

Interestingly, or maybe surprisingly, or even shockingly (!), in the main I have not noticed these developments at all …. until a friend offered to take me for a coffee on my familiar ground.

I guess this could be a bit similar to watching a child grow up. You see your beautiful son or daughter every day and do not notice the small changes in their height or facial features and all of a sudden you see a photo of them taken a year ago and think ‘whoah …. when did all that change happen?’ Today, being with my friend, has mirrored that exercise of looking at a 6 month old photo, and I’ve gone ‘whoah … when did THAT start to happen!’

The weird thing is that I know this stuff … the stuff that says although I need to work alone a lot of the time I need honest people around me to keep me on track. People who care enough to encourage and take time, people who love me enough to point out when I’m being a pratt and people who are don’t feel awkward or embarrassed about pointing out things that are good!

Although I need to work alone sometimes I can’t actually do this alone …. and yes I know I need Jesus but actually Jesus isn’t enough! I don’t believe that is a lack of faith thing (actually if we were to go down the scripture line I would need to point out the Trinity stuff …. I need the Creator and The Spirit too!) but more a reality of faith thing.

God is my inspiration and gives my ability and energy …. but Jesus is not always enough because I also need the people – the trusted and loved friends spoken of above, that Jesus has put around me. I don’t believe these relationships of trust are incidental. They are clearly, in my mid, divinely inspired.

I think when I was growing up in evangelicalism this type of thing was called ‘accountability’ …. well if that is what this is I’m pleased to be part of it.

Thank you 🙂

 

what a weekend!

IMG_0694What an amazing weekend!

Gills are Champions! After an exciting season, and years of disappointment, Gills are promoted with 3 matches left to play (the first team to secure promotion from any of the leagues), and crowned Champions with one game still to play. We then celebrated as a group of ‘boys’ (while the girls went to see Dirty Dancing) with a curry and beer which is always great to do.

This orning was the APCM of St Marks. APCM’s are not renowned for their newsworthiness but today was lined with a bit of excitement as we were able to read of the load of tuff that St Mark’s is involved in positively in the community. Some established people recently have been talking of returning to ‘the glory years’ when the place was full. My reflection on those years is, however, that we got together to worship and then returned to our homes, without a lot of community engagement. Now, however, people are seriously engaged in their community …. which causes me to think to a large number of people this Christian community is ‘good news’ …. so I believe we are in the glory years and have no need to go back.

Finally my day ended with a trip up to Moot to as we put together more stuff and thoughts on developing an umbrella organisation for new monastic communities. A great meeting, lots to talk about with passionate people who simply want to follow God and see transformation in their communities … simples! It’s always an honour to be part of this group and catch up, even if it was too briefly, with my Moot friends.

That was the weekend … I’m praying the week will be as good!