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Zetland Park Methodist Church Pastoral Letters ( Archive )

These are the older pastoral letters. We also have recent letters you might wish to browse.

Be aware that these archive pages are not actively maintained and some links might be broken

December 2017
Northern lights.

One of my greatest desires is to experience the Northern lights. Although previously unlikely to ever be fulfilled, the last couple of years or so have seen the normally very infrequent opportunity to witness them in the UK being changed and on several occasions, even as far south as where we are, the Northern Lights have been visible. Alas, on each and every occasion I have not heard about them being visible until the following morning. On one occasion, a couple of years back, I had left for home in Darlington less than half an hour before people were photographing the mesmerising spectacle from Saltburn beach! Argh!(...more)

October 2017
Training and encouragement.

I went out the other morning to place rubbish in the bin and, for the first time, noticed numerous trailing runners on the early clematis hanging randomly from the trellis and looking very in need of being trained and organised if they are to be ready to give a good show in the Spring! It reminded me of a quote I chose to do an essay on while pursuing the MA course at Cliff College in 2014. The quote was words of Revd George Whitfield, a contemporary and sometimes friend of John and Charles Wesley.(...more)

February 2017
Approaching Lent

The other night I drove passed one of my Chapels and was surprised by the number of cars parked up outside and reflected to myself how wonderful it would be if the same was true on a Sunday! I then realised that the crowds would be at one of the keepfit/ slimmers type events which several of my churches allow to use their facilities. The thought process moved on to thinking about how much time and effort, generally speaking in the UK, we put into keeping ourselves fit and in trim through exercise, watching our weight and our diet, even down to some spending huge sums on so-called age-defying creams!(...more)

December 2016
The season of Christmas

Contrary to the secular developed Western nations' habits, the season of Christmas in the Christian calendar does not start until 24th December! The earlier part of December, the bulk of the month, is the season of Advent - one of my most favourite seasons for it is a time of expectation and preparation!

Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (27th November this year) and is the time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus, not so much as a baby, but as a King! (...more)

November 2016
Extraordinary Giving

I can't remember the exact date but I do know I inwardly groaned the first time I heard a radio presenter reminded us it was only 'xyz' shopping days to Christmas! The annual challenge of finding Christmas gifts for all our loved ones is looked upon by some with joy and by others as a real challenge and chore! My problem is that I know I already have far too much and there is very little more I need and I suspect that for many grown-ups the feeling is shared. What most of us would give our right arms for is world peace, and end to poverty, ..... (...more)

October 2016

At a recent church event I went to I sat on the back row listening to the singing in the opening devotions. We were singing a well known 1970's chorus which clearly everyone knew. As we moved into the second and subsequent verses I noticed that some folk started singing harmonies, but oh dear, it was anything but melodious! Clearly, different people knew different harmonies and rather than them blending into a lovely sound, the harmonies were jarring and clashing against each other and were anything but melodious! (...more)

September 2016

Well, it has been a busy week, a very busy week! Everywhere I have looked, farmers are busy with the harvesting of grain crops, combine harvesters and tractors busying up and down fields, working well into the night - and probably through it - before the weather turns.

Of course, that reminds me of one of my favourite parables told by Jesus, the Parable of the Sower, which is so often heard at this time of year as we approach Harvest Thanksgivings, even though, if the honest truth be known, it has little to commend it as good instruction to farmers! (...more)

June 2016

Methodists and racecourses don't naturally go together in my mind, but an opportunity has arisen for a connection to be developed in Redcar!

Some months ago Redcar Racecourse approached a Churches Together group in Ryedale who do Chaplaincy work at three Racecourses in their area, asking if they could do likewise here. I was contacted as it is clear we are well out of the operating area of the Ryedale group. However, it is also clear that this sort of Chaplaincy work is not one that anyone locally had experience of. And so a couple of the group from Ryedale came up to Redcar on Easter Saturday for the first race meeting of the year and twice since, and I joined them for one day (...more)

May 2016
"As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." (John 20:21)

A recent series on TV has greatly inspired me, had me hanging on the edge of my seat when I have had the chance to catch up with the programmes! The series sees Paul O'Grady finding out about the Salvation Army and experiencing the sort of work they do today. In all previous Circuits I have been in I have had the privilege of working closely with Salvation Army Officers and always been inspired by their deeply practical caring and service in the community. In many respects they remind me of the social care of the members of the Oxford Holy Club amongst whom were, of course, the founders of Methodism, the Wesley's themselves. It also reminds me of one of the major reasons I was attracted to faith in Jesus; everything in his life and teaching oozes love and care, especially for those who are having a tough time - and that is what I wanted to do and to be! (...more)

April 2016

By the time you read this in early April it should be so much more than the daffodils which are in full bloom. Hopefully Spring will truly be blossoming with even the trees showing buds and bursting into green. The continued promise of the fruitfulness of our wonderful world always inspires me and brings me to worship God.

But at the same time it is a different type of fruitfulness which will be engaging our minds in church. Robert Schnase, a Bishop in the United Methodist Church of America, has spotted that in America there are five common factors to fruitful churches, that is, churches which are growing. And even in America growing churches are quite unusual so a lot of attention is being paid to them to see what lessons can be learnt.

And this is the project our Circuit, inspired by our new Superintendent Minister John Henry, will be examining this Spring at various meetings. Please see a fuller description of Schnase's ideas in the Spring edition of 'Connexions' (the quarterly leaflet I do for all four of my churches) which should already be out in church, and watch out for the special meetings to engage with the material.

January 2016
I would like to start the New Year by saying 'thank you'!

I guess the Minister, more than most, sees just how much time and effort many people put in to make the church work - to make it run smoothly. So I would like to acknowledge the commitment of those people who not only serve the church but more importantly serve God in what they do. These include our Local Preachers (most of whose work you do not see because it is done at other churches in the Circuit), our Church Stewards, our organists, our welcoming & communion stewards and those who look after the spiritual needs of children in the Sunday Squad. It also includes those who help in the upkeep of our property, those who manage our financial resources, our Pastoral Visitors and those who arrange for our refreshments and our meals. And we must not forget those whose work for God's Kingdom is outside the church, those who represent our church in the community, at the Foodbank, with the Redcar Beacons, in school assemblies and in a variety of other ways. All of these fulfil essential roles without which the church would not function well - so we need to say 'thank you' to them all. (...more)

December 2015
The reason for Christmas

As I start to write this I confess that I don't feel very Christmassy, nor very much at peace, nor very joyful, for I write in the immediate aftermath of the attacks in Paris. The shock at such a large number of innocent people being killed and injured makes many ask if there can ever be an end to hatred and violence in the world and asking what is the correct response to such atrocities. It is clear that in Paris, at least, such attacks are not so easy to "shake off" and for people to just to get on with life as before. Understandably, people are questioning when and were the next violent attack will come from - fear is clearly palpable..(...more)

November 2015
All Saints

We are delighted that, yet again, Revd Jonathan Hustler is able to join us to lead our Chapel Anniversary services and thank him for making the time and the journey to be with US.

We start the month with the celebration of All Saints Day on November 1st, the day when the church especially remembers the 'lesser' Saints who do not have their own dedicated feast day like the 'major' ones do. Of course, like most non-Conformist churches Methodists don't go a real bundle on celebrating Saints like some other denominations do. However, we should remember that Paul starts many of his letters with something like, "To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus" reminding us that in the early days of the church all who followed 'the way' and who were faithful were called saints (with a small 's').(...more)

July 2015
Getting Ready

My life recently has been involving a 2015 lot of getting things ready. Getting ready for a holiday. Getting ready to fetch Emily from Holland. Getting things ready for the new Superintendent Minister coming. It is all about being prepared.

I am often very surprised how many good Christian folk, some very longstanding church-goers, tell me they do not feel prepared, not confident about meeting their maker. In some way they feel inadequate, perhaps just not assured about how they will be received! Somewhere in one of my many books on my shelves I have some sketches, "Eh, Jesus! Yes Peter?" one of which is an imagined conversation between Jesus and Peter where Peter is asking what he needs to prepare to take with him to follow Jesus. The punch line is, of course, "nothing, just bring yourself."(...more)

April 2015

Ever since hearing my mother speak of the experience of witnessing a total solar eclipse when she was 5 years old I have wanted to share that same experience, so far without a realistic opportunity presenting itself. For Mum it was clearly a dramatic experience and despite her young age the intensity of the memory never left her - she was transformed by it! Alas, the one which took place this month (March), which saw totality as near as the Faroe Isles, did not come to my attention until after all the affordable trips there had already long been booked up! To have been "so near and yet so far" from fulfilling a life-time ambition leaves one feeling as gutted as I was about failing to find the time to complete my MA two years ago. Alas opportunities come and go ... passing you by if you don't grab them with both hands. Since the next total solar eclipse in Europe is not until 2026, a couple of years after I have retired, we shall have to wait to see if health and opportunity hold up! (...more)

February 2015

Lent, which starts on 18th February, is generally perceived in a very negative way, as a season of giving things up, fasting and depriving ourselves of any pleasure. In some churches this is exacerbated by an almost morbid focus on the passion of our Lord for the better part of six weeks.

But traditionally Lent has been a season of preparation, through study, prayer and fasting, so that the believer is in a better state to celebrate Jesus as risen Lord and his victory over sin and death on Easter Sunday. (...more)

December 2014
Christmas Letter

Christmas comes around every year so there cannot be much we don't know or understand about it, surely? Wrong. There is always something new for us to learn, see or discover about this wonderful celebration!
I was reminded of this as I start writing this letter while watching a video description of a marvellous piece of artwork which I brought back from the Continent in August (it was the video not the artwork I brought back, I hasten to add!). (...more)

September 2014
Mission Statements

As always at the beginning of the each quarter my main message is in the newsletter ,Connexions, which is available separately in church from the 1st Sunday of the month. I do hope you take the time to read it - it is the way I try to make sure my four churches all get the same information which they need to hear in one common document. I know that some like trying to spot the errors which I leave in to amuse you and test how well you have read it!!!! No prizes, of course, but if it entertains some that is good by me. (...more)

April 2014
Happy Easter

Ask the vast majority of folk what comes into their mind at the mention of Easter and I am sure that very near the top of the list will be "eggs". In so far as they represent new life I have no problem with that. But Easter is so, so much more. Have you ever wondered what a chicken understands of the world outside its shell before it hatches, or even a baby while still in its mother womb? They can't even begin to imagine the wonders of the world outside even if they are capable of thinking about it - but the enormity and wonder still exists even though they cannot imagine it! (...more)

December 2013
The Nativity

The other evening I was looking through the film "The Nativity", first screened on the BBC in December 2010, with the thought of using it in Sunday evening Services thorughout December and was immediately struck by the hope it portrayed:

In a world and at a time when hope was so difficult to embrace they stood apart in so many ways. (...more)

November 2013
Your Will Be Done

My family often tease me about my fascination with World War II films which is evidenced by the number of DVD's in my 'bit' of our library.. From the Great Escape to the Dam Busters, the Guns of Navarone to the Saving of Private Ryan, the Battle of Britain through to documentaries about the cracking of Enigma at Bletchley Park and many, many more, they all interest me and inspired me. Though thankfully they don't depict all the gory details of the war, they do portray people showing extreme bravery, dedicated commitment, comradeship and teamwork, and the willingness to offer oneself, sometimes sacrificially, for the cause. All of them seem to show, in one way or another, how tribulation and a being focussed on a cause bigger than ourselves can bring out the very best in so many people. (...more)

October 2013
Different Responses

A couple of recent events on train journeys have inspired me this month. In the first, a couple of Mums with pushchairs and loads of bags were alighting at Allens West station, clearly having been shopping in Middlesbrough. They had chatted to each other non-stop on the journey and continued as the conductor helped them off-load pushchairs and bags before they went on their way down the platform still in deep conversation. As he got back on the train I heard the conductor mumble, "Well don't bother to say thank you, will you!" In the second incident another young mum was getting off the train at Darlington with a double pushchair. Someone awaiting to join the train lent forward and helped lift the pushchair off, and was rewarded with a lovely smile and profuse thanks for their kindness and help. Two very different responses to help being offered! (...more)

August 2013
Update on the Latin Link Project

Though we had been looking forward to welcoming the Marroquin family (Karen, Pedro and their children Sofia and Esteban) from Guatamala in September we have just heard that due to difficulties with the UK Border Agency they will now not be arriving until January. However, when they arrive they will be here for two years to help us to better reach out to those on the periphery of our churches in the Redcar section. The exact details of welcome event will be published nearer their arrival, but for the first four weeks I hope to be able to take them wherever I am on a Sunday morning so they can be seen in each of the four churches. (...more)

View of left hand stained glass window. In memory of Florence Croskell. 'The joy of the Lord is in your strength'

May 2013
See how they love

The month of May marks the end of the season of Easter at the festival of Pentecost - which some refer to as the birth-day of the church. Pentecost marks the point where God moved from using one person in one place at one time - Jesus - to potentially using all followers of Christ in all places for all time. (...more)

April 2013
Look with expectation

How many times have I travelled on the train between Darlington and Redcar in the last 18 months? On average at least 5 to 6 times a week both ways, for something like 47 weeks a year - that has to be over 750 times! And yet only this morning I saw something I had never noticed before. In what remains of the old shunting yards west of Middlesbrough Station there are the clear marks of the foundations of a huge railway turntable - I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it before, even if often enough it is either dark or I have my head down reading, typing or even praying (though most often I pray with eyes wide open looking at the world!) when travelling on the train. "So what", I hear you say? (...more)

February 2013
Three years on

The day I am writing this is the 3rd anniversary of the 2010 earthquake which devastated so much of Haiti, killing 316,000 people, injuring another 300,000 people and leaving over 1 million people living in temporary tent encampments - with many still living in the same conditions even today. (...more)

Christmas 2012
"God comes on earth to dwell"

In a series this autumn I have been looking again at Methodism's new vision - to be a "discipleship movement - shaped for mission". In this the third article we look at what it means to be "shaped for mission". "What," I hear you cry. "I thought he would at least talk about Christmas." Well, fret not - I am going to! Amongst all the tinsel and trees, presents and food, family gatherings and for some an unbelievable loneliness, we remember a baby being born to a young peasant women in cattle shed in a little known place called Bethlehem, at least a week's travel from her own home, to which shepherds and wise men were directed to discover … the son of God! (...more)

November 2012
We'll praise him for all that is past - and trust him for all that's to come!

November sees the celebration of our Chapel Anniversary. It is a great opportunity to give thanks for the church we have inherited and for all that our forebears achieved. Often it is only in looking backwards that we see the incredible bravery and commitment of our forbears in the faith - the risks they took in investing time and money and energy to ensure that the message of God's love for us was not lost. It is their commitment that challenges me to ask how people will eventually look back in future years on our own efforts today and what conclusions they will draw! (...more)

October 2012
"A Discipleship movement ..."

Having looked briefly at the idea of Discipleship last month - the importance of being committed to live-long learning and development in faith for ourselves and of our being involved in the discipling of new Christians, we now pick up the theme of "movement".

One of the things which marked the early church was the huge energy and enthusiasm with which it spread. Almost everywhere Peter and later Paul and other early evangelists visited a new community of faith sprung up, starting with a few folk but quickly increasing in number. Across a huge area and in a relatively short time the Christian message spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond - it was almost like a virulent virus! And the more it was persecuted, the more it spread. (...more)

View of right hand stained glass window. In memory of Tom Croskell. 'Endeavour to work in the ways of God'

September 2012
A pilgrimage of discovery

During my summer holidays my son and daughter accompanied me on an attempt to climb Scafell Pike. We set off on the day which promised the best weather but which we still knew would present the risk of cloud at the summit. As we feared, the cloud started swirling around us as we approached the 2500 ft level and it got thicker the higher we climbed.

At 3000 ft we were in almost completely obscuring cloud making navigating the boulder-strewn landscape very difficult. True, there were cairns marking the way but in places these seemed to head off in all directions or merge into the general landscape. Without a map and compass, or more often these days a satnav, finding the right path would have been fraught with difficulty and potential danger. (...more)

July 2012
A pilgrimage of discovery

We've been hearing about it for years, and in the last few months barely a day has gone by without it being mentioned in the news! What is it? The Olympics, of course! And I guess that for the rest of the summer we will not be able to escape from the coverage, either.

Back in the early "noughties" when my children were just beginning to enter local gymnastics competitions (and doing very well, if I am honest) the inevitable comments were made, "Will we see them in the Olympics in 2012?" Even then, I knew it was most unlikely because they had not started early enough in life - but that didn't stop us from encouraging and supporting them - transporting them four times a week to gym and round the country to competitions. (...more)

June 2012
The power of standing together

Christian Aid Week takes place every year in May. This year we have been focussing on the story of a community in Sierra Leone that has seen remarkable change. Tenneh Keimbay's life turned around when the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone (MCSL) started to work in her town, distributing tools and teaching farmers simple food production techniques. She talks enthusiastically about the difference this has made: 'Now the children eat two meals all year round, whereas before it was one. They are growing well; they don't cry around me because of hunger. They are happy to go to school because something is in their stomach.' (...more)

May 2012
Thomas proclaimed, "My Lord and my God"

People often get given nicknames, sometimes with their approval, sometimes not. But I guess there are very few of us who will be remembered much beyond our death, let alone in future centuries and our nickname be applied to others with similar traits. But even today, two millennia after he lived, the name of "Doubting Thomas" is well known even by those who probably do not even know where the name came from. Thomas is remembered as the one who was not with the rest of the disciples immediately following Jesus' resurrection when he first appeared to them. When he was told about it Thomas said he would not believe Jesus had risen unless he could see the wounds of crucifixion. (...more)

April 2012
"Jonnie owes Mummy - nil"

There is an old story about a young lad, Jonnie. He was well looked after by his parents; good food and plenty of meals, a lovely play room and lots of toys, nice clothes and enjoyable holidays. However, like most young lads there was always something more he "needed". One breakfast time he placed a folded piece of paper in the place where his mother sat. When she came in she picked it up and looked at it. It read, "For clearing the table and stacking the pots 3d, for feeding the dog 3d, for taking the rubbish out to the bin 3d, for washing the car 3d. Total Mummy owes Jonnie 1 shilling … per week". His mother folded the paper up again and said nothing. (...more)

March 2012
"What next", "where now", "why me"

After all the wind and bad weather we have had in recent weeks, I started tidying up the garden this morning. Branches which had fallen from the trees in the wind littered the grass, dead (and now rotting) leaves filled every nook and cranny, along all the edges of the lawn and around the base of every bush and shrub. Alas, some of the shrubs we had brought with us but which had never made it into the ground from the pots they travelled in had not survived the harsh frosts getting to their roots, but there was no point crying over these - that wouldn't bring them back to life! With the back of the car soon filled with the collected debris ready to go to the tip I began to notice spring bulbs beginning to emerge from the ground from where the leaves had been gathered and new shoots just breaking on bushes and shrubs - Spring is on its way as new growth emerges from the debris of autumn and winter - new hope as nature continues its endless cycle! (...more)

February 2012
Spiritual spring clean!

What crosses your mind when I mention the month of February? Valentine's Day? Maybe even Pancake Day! But February in my mind reminds me of the start of Lent. Of course, Pancake Day is historically the day when folk used to use up the perishable foodstuffs which they would not be using during the season of Lent due to the association with the idea of self-denial - the giving up rich food! Though that is part of the purpose of Lent, it is not helpful to think of it as the only bit. (...more)

December 2011
Hail the incarnate Deity

Once upon a time there was a great bachelor Prince who was much admired by many people for his wisdom and justice and who many young ladies aspired to marry because of his wealth. One day, while travelling through the kingdom in his carriage he spotted a young lady in a small rural village with whom he instantly fell in love. That night he could not sleep for thinking about her and he resolved to find out who she was. In time, his attendants reported back that they had found her and that she came from a very poor farming family and was, as yet, unmarried. The prince arranged to visit the area again and arrangements were made so as to ensure that he could meet this young lady without his feelings for her being made known. Though he spoke with all the villages, when he met the young lady he became certain that she was the girl for him, but she was clearly very intimidated by his rank and position. (...more)

November 2011
Remember, remember !

We all remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder, the treason and the plot - and still we have our bonfires and fireworks, toffee apples and hot chocolate. I guess it was potentially the equivalent of foiling 9/11 or 7/7 today which is why I the celebrations still continue! This makes me think, though, that on this day perhaps we should indeed remember those whose job it is to protect us from such atrocities today - covert, unnamed, possibly never to be acknowledged, but who, day by day, do those things we will never hear about to try to prevent similar events again. They are the folks who try to ensure we can move around our big cities in safety and whose successes mean we dare to board an aeroplane to go on our holidays with little need to be fearful, despite the frequent grumbles about all the extra "security measures" which have proved so successful. (...more)

April 24, 2011
He is NOT here …!

Now, that's got the questions coming … but the immediate answer is that somebody has removed the body: there is, of course, NO other explanation … Is there?

One of the most challenging school assemblies I have done in recent weeks is in response to the question, 'Will you tell us about Easter, please?' Now, this was NOT to be anything about Easter eggs; bunnies and rolling eggs down hillsides … no, what is Easter to you?'(...more)

April 17, 2011
"When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, 'Who is this?' " Matthew 21 v. 10

Was He that un-recognisable that folk HAD to ask that question? Surely they were aware of the accounts from Scripture which indicated the arrival, on a donkey, of an important personage: none other than the Messiah? Or was the entire scenario one of those which took them all by surprise and the penny failed to drop? Or, was there a more sinister motive?

Whatever the 'thinking' there was a stir and those in authority were well and truly disturbed by all that was going on: they were NOT in control, and that would have fatal consequences. (...more)

April 10, 2011
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life" John 5 vv 39 - 40

We come to the end of our 'Reflections' for Lent 2011 with the inevitable challenge from the very lips of Jesus Himself. The words are damning in their context and even more damning when we take them to our own hearts, for they suggest, and suggest very forcibly to me that what we are REALLY doing is READING Scripture but not STUDYING it …

The implication being, as I seek to interpret it, we know the bits which comfort, but as for the others, we circumnavigate them with great aplomb. Our Bible Study groups, at whatever venue you choose to go, are very meagerly supported, and when the call goes up, 'Why isn't the Church growing?' we strongly; quickly and with humility, need to look to ourselves. For surely, if we are unaware of what the Lord requires of us, then how can we implement His will in this part of His Kingdom? (...more)

April 3, 2011
"He who is not with me is against me…" Luke 11:23a

It was the awkward moment … You remember … when they were choosing "sides" for a particular game: they knew you were not necessarily the best player for the task in hand, but you were the only one left so … Then you decide to 'play your heart out' … Those were the days.

There are times in our Christian journey when even within our organisation called 'the Church' there will be those who sneer at your capabilities and will never choose you for a task: indeed they will go out of their way to avoid you, and as a result your faith takes more than just a knock. (...more)

March 27, 2011
"Should good be repaid with evil?" Jeremiah 18:20a

It's not a scenario with which I am familiar, but the statement from the O.T. prophet declaring God's Word intrigued me when I read it recently as part of my Lenten discipline. It throws up some thoughts and I wondered whether as a Christian minister I should have such thoughts, after all, should not all actions; words; thoughts and purposes be for and by the Lord who called me and whom I seek to serve?

Should I even think of entertaining such thoughts of malice toward a fellow traveller or in fact, anyone else? And yet, are there not times when we have felt, or indeed maybe been the victims of, someone literally throwing something back at you, when you had delivered it with all good intension in the first place? When intended 'good works' are repaid with abuse, physical or verbal … (...more)

March 20, 2011
"Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from His fierce anger so that we will not perish" Jonah 3:9

This period of the Church's year … awkward for many … If we take the matter seriously, and as Christians as opposed to simply 'Church goers' we are required so to do, seeks from us a true assessment of what and who we really are in the Light of the Glory of God, and realizing our sinful nature, through word; deed and misplaced action, need to REPENT …turn back from those ways and seek a fresh path in the Lord.

Seeking 'such a path', will confront us with situations for which as mere human beings, we have no ready answer, and as a consequence may well find ourselves giving up the entire exercise as 'a unattainable goal', and revert to what we were … indulgent, sinful souls: weak and misplaced. We succumb to our own wills and find pleasure and security in what we can achieve under our own steam, and pick up the plaudits whether they are justified or not; but whatever, they please us and that, surely, is all that matters? (...more)

March 13, 2011
"We put no stumbling-block in anyone's path ..." 2 Corinthians 6:3a

We come again to that period in the Church's year which causes folk to question. Not 'question' for the "reason for the season", but rather why they should do it at all. For above all else, the season is a 'time of questioning', not of someone else, but of ones self.

It's a time when we NEED to ask the most pointed of questions, and search in the darkest of places and clear out the direst of obstructions if we are to come to the climax with any sort of intent or purpose. It is a time when we need to lay our soul bare and say to God, 'cleanse me, for I am unworthy'. (...more)

December 20, 2009
'He came into the world …. But the world received Him not'

I'm not a fan of dancing, so I sat through the alternative and found myself immensely proud of our local victor … but anxious of all the hype which goes with it, and indeed what the future holds for 'Wor Joe'. The "X-factor" had for many, 19 million in fact, become one of those shows which were not to be missed whatever the circumstances and the lady of the house had a leaning in that direction!! . (...more)

December 13, 2009
Mary waves madly at her mum …………..

an angel picked his nose …………. A shepherd has 'stage fright' ………. A 'Wise Man' missed his cue ………… The paparazzi had a field day: and the baby was born in Bethlehem. There is both a 'magic' and an 'innocence' about school Christmas plays; as they tell that wonderful, ever-fresh story in their own, particular way. (...more)

December 6, 2009
There's never any real joy when we have to listen to predictions

………….. For there is always someone 'going on about this or that or the other …', and sooner or later you have closed your ears to the whole scenario if you have not as yet walked away. It would seem however that the one charged with making such pronouncements is convinced of its credibility that they place their heart and soul at the very centre of what they are seeking to do. (...more)

November 29, 2009
I've noticed something which has been missing for a few years

…….. There's been a 'sea change' it would appear in someone's thinking, or was it public pressure, or a realisation that 'political correctness' had gone a rye? Had a Christian 'lobby' been successful and brought folk back to 'their senses', or was it something else? A public display in a large city; a shop window in a large commercial centre each made reference to "CHRISTMAS". (...more)

There is a gap during which none were published

October 13th, 2006 - Where has the TIME gone

As I write this the first 'real' mists of the year-end are making their chill felt in the early morning. They shroud the landscape and cause eerie shapes to 'hang around'; the dampness penetrates the bones; more clothing is put on, but those wonderful tints of fallen leaves and designs of stripped trees compensate for the forthcoming harshness of yet another winter. (...more)

September 15th, 2006 - But who really cared?

We sat on the pier head and watched the world go by. There was some movement on the water as vessels came to and fro; some of them pleasure craft, others plying their trade: yet this latter function was becoming a part of history through external pressures, and the old trawl skipper who sat at my side, simply shook his graying head as his eyes glazed with tears and what had been and what it was now. (...more) View of left hand stained glass window. In memory of Florence Croskell. 'The joy of the Lord is in your strength'

June 15th, 2006 "God's vision for His people"

I was impressed recently with a reading from the Book of Revelation. It is not the usual area of my reading, or indeed my preaching, but in recent days I have been drawn to some of the sections which have given me some dramatic insight to "God's vision for His people" (...more)

May 17th, 2006 - There is a happy land;

For some unaccountable reason, that line from the Sunday School hymnal of unknown date, and published by The National Sunday School Union of Ludgate Hill, London came into mind and this immediately got me thinking about some "Whys and wherefores". (...more)

February 26th, 2006 - Signs;

There is a tremendous argument currently in the popular press concerning the proliferation of traffic/road signs. Many are saying that there have become so numerous that instead of helping the road user, they have become an inherent danger. (...more)

January 18th, 2006 - Post Code;

There are a number of books and other odds and ends scattered about my study floor. Occasionally, one of them reminds me it is there as I trip over it, and usually at the most inopportune moment: like, in the middle of a telephone conversation. Many will remain in their languid state possibly until I move out to 'pastures new', but each and all have their uses at least in the occasional moment. (...more)

December 17th, 2005 - Where does all that time go?;

Have you looked recently at your diary for 2006? I don't for a moment suspect that it contains as many entries as mine does, but nevertheless, I wonder if you too are asking that inevitable question as we stand at the gate of yet another new year, "Where does all that time go?" (...more)

October 16th, 2005 - ‘Our prison population’

There is always a lot of talk in the press and other sections of the media about ‘our prison population’ and increasingly difficult it seems for the judiciary to seek and be seen to maintain law and order without ‘overcrowding’ the prison system. The entire system is on the verge of utter collapse with the fear of a massive increase in crime and criminality. There is utter disgust as criminals are ‘let loose’ after serving what many folk regard as a derisory part of a jail term, while the ‘victim or their family’ are wracked in pain and anguish. (...more)

August 15th, 2005 - And where has yet another year disappeared too?

Have you noticed that you are drawing the curtains that wee bit earlier? Have you noticed too, that it is not as light in the mornings when you get up at your 'normal' time? Whatever we seek to do with all the objects we have acquired, there is NOTHING we can do about the advancement of the seasons. (...more)

June 16th, 2005 - "The sound of silence"?

Do you recall that old popular song, "The sound of silence"? Have you ever experienced it? Yet, what IS this silence? One could respond, "The absence of noise", but is that all of the answer? Where do I go and experience, this 'silence'; indeed, where can it truly be found? (...more) View of right hand stained glass window. In memory of Tom Croskell. 'Endeavour to work in the ways of God'

May 19th, 2005 - Holidays!!

We take a lot of trouble organizing them, and then worry ourselves silly whether in fact we have done the right thing, and can really afford it, in the first place! Holidays!! (...more)

April 16th, 2005 - Several ‘drops of water’

I read an account of a fantastic occurrence the other day …… simply due to a fall of rain, and how that event changed an earthly landscape into something that folk never thought would happen, in their lifetime. A barren stretch of earth, famous for its vast extremes of temperature, and renowned for the fact that it did not appear to be able to sustain any life-form, suddenly took on a breath-taking new hue, and all due to a sudden, and it would appear, an unexpected cloud-burst. (...more)

March 12th, 2005 - Too much – too little -- too late?

The world and its peoples never cease to amaze me at what they can make as ‘topics of conversation’. If it’s not the proverbial ‘weather’, then the ‘beautiful game’ takes centre stage [football to those NOT in the know!]. (...more)

February 13th, 2005 - 90 Seconds

A number of years ago now, I invited my local minister to contribute to a series of ‘Thoughts for the Day’ on a local radio station. Nothing unusual you may say as that was part of my brief as the Methodist representative in that area. However, it was both the timing and the content of those messages which made the impact, and even some twenty years on, when I listen to a recording, my whole being is stretched by the pictures which Graham painted for those ‘Holy Week’ broadcasts. (...more)

January 19th, 2005 - A New Street Map

I made one of those purchases the other day which is a rarity ---- I purchased a new street map. With the ever-increasing nature of our communities, keeping up to date with the names and locations of a variety of new locations is a vital task, if one is to get about and respond to ‘new areas’ (...more)

December 14th, 2004 - A Brand new Diary

Its fresh, unadulterated pages beckon the pen and the innumerable scribbles which become the historical document of 2005. The creation of an historical document? Yes, as each entry is made, you are in effect, recording your part of history in this Year of Grace, 2005. (...more)

August 20th, 2004 - Cause to Reflect

There was a very strange feeling as you drove up to the entrance. The perimeter fence looked menacing and somewhat foreboding, yet just beyond it, was evidence of ---- a garden centre! Then, partially hidden in the undergrowth was a sign to a restaurant and gift shop! (...more)

June 14th, 2004 - The ‘Tall Ships’ were in town!

There was a strange, yet quaint stateliness about their form. Their ‘uniqueness’ attracted not just hundreds, but thousands of inquisitive eyes and an equal number of gaping mouths. There were as many questions from those of more mature years, as there were from the naturally inquisitive younger element. All had been drawn into an historical time warp, which was fascinating to behold. The ‘Tall Ships’ were in town! (...more)

May 20th, 2004 - all the big occasions in the Church’s calendar are over, for yet another year

It could be argued that ‘all the big occasions in the Church’s calendar are over, for yet another year’ ----- and to a certain extent that is precisely correct, if you count the Church’s year from the beginning of the Advent season. But surely this will give the impression, if we follow that dictum, that we simply and only function, at certain times of the year. (...more)

April 15th, 2004 - The revitalised route

The rattle of a regular service train had long since passed into history. The rails were rusting and the track bed was fast disappearing under a deep covering of foliage. The axe had long fallen on this rural line, and all that was left for many a local villager, who had been served by this link, were memories, and they ran deep. (...more)

April 2nd, 2004 - Oh, it’s enough to put you off religion for life!

That’s but one comment that has been made about the controversial film, ‘The Passion of the Christ’. Here we are coming face to face with ‘Reality religion’, as opposed to comfortable, storybook religion’. It’s easy to interpret our faith through other human’s eyes, and seek through that a panacea that will keep our minds, hearts and even lives, from pain and distress. (...more)

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