Thursday, December 15, 2011

Grant, my husband has just written this Christmas round robin letter: thought you may like to read it...

Well what a year of magic and wonder 2011 has been...
Tom is nearly 12 now and has continued to progress academically this year. He constantly amazes his fellow professors at Cambridge University with his intuition in the finer points of Eastern European fiscal law. He really enjoyed conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall in the summer and intends to spend this Holiday transcribing 'War and Peace' into Arabic and Cantonese.
Gill had a very busy year. In between her work as Archbishop of Greenland and Senior Partner of Apple (Europe), she introduced a line of children's novels and hand made active-wear. She remains occupied with Tom and has introduced him to Yoga and hang gliding this year which will come in useful on their expedition up Everest next summer. We are particularly proud of Mum in her role as a fly-half representing England in the Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Grant was immersed with his Graduate School studies, and managed to co-author a paper on Multidimensional Customer Attribute Analysis by Conjoint Survey and accept a Nobel Prize for his discoveries in Quantum Physics. We are proud of his work serving on the Board of Directors of IBM, Coca-Cola, and Walt Disney. Dad was also active with Tom teaching him Classical Ballet and helping to lower his golf handicap to 5.
We were able to squeeze a little travelling in this year. We started in Aspen, went to Belarus, the Congo, Denmark, Ethiopia, the Falklands, Greenland, Holland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Venezuela, and Zaire. Our trip sailing our new boat around the world was a great experience for Tom; we all learned to communicate with Dolphins and discovered a new region of deep water volcanoes which are now named after us in recognition of our services to marine science.
Whisper and Mittens, our cats, learned to speak Ancient Hebrew which will make reading the Old Testament so much more meaningful for them.
Christmas will be a particularly happy time for us as we have just heard that Grant’s mother has been given a Royal Pardon by the King of Thailand, and will be released by February. Apparently, she thought the powder the man gave her at the airport in July was icing sugar.
Other than that, it’s been a very quiet year.
So from our household to yours, all the blessings of the season and may your New Year be prosperous.
P.S. We found out yesterday that we won the Euromillions Lottery, and we didn’t even know we had entered!
Yours in great love and humility,

Grant, Gill and Tom

Monday, November 28, 2011

A walk through a local village and in to the countryside enacting the Nativity Story using drama, carols and Bible readings. We will encounter a fierce roman Soldier, see Mary and Joseph turned away from the inn and then meet three shepherds as they huddle around a meagre fire and discuss the coming of the Messiah who will change everything. We will rejoice with the Angels and marvel with the Kings as they speak of his coming. Finally we gather together in the barn to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the only Son of the living God.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Poppies and Crosses

The significance of the poppy as a lasting memorial symbol to the fallen was realised by the Canadian surgeon John McCrae in his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. The poppy came to represent the incredible sacrifice made many young men of the time and quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in war of any kind. Here are a few lines from the poem:

‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.’

When fighting ceased in 1918 the mud of the battlefields was allowed to rest and nature began to be restored. Before long the poppies grew over the battered earth. The colour of red reminded people of the extreme bloodshed and the sacrifice made by millions of soldiers. And so the poppy became the symbol of sacrifice.
But that poem also mentions another symbol: ‘Between the crosses, row on row’.

This refers of course to the crosses which marked the graves of the men who died, who laid down their lives for their families, friends and countrymen. But the use of a cross has a greater significance because those crosses are of course the Cross of Jesus.
One of Jesus great sayings was: ‘Greater love hath no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13).
When Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sin, he did exactly that for you and for me. He laid down his life for us - his friends. Quite an amazing thought that we can call ourselves friends of the living God...
Many people have benefitted from these two great symbols of sacrifice – the Poppy and the Cross. Both brought freedom. The sacrifice which the poppy represents brought freedom to Europe from dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini. But the cross brings us an even greater freedom – a release from sin and death which brings us into a loving friendship with God.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I'm not sure that the above cartoon is really the way forward for our churches. However, I really love this passage from 1 Peter as a description of how church should be. If it was always like this, then it really would be brilliant! I am just glad that I get glimpses of this on occasion, through the actions of some very special people.

‎1 Peter: 4: 7b-11

Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

It's all there: clear mindedness, prayer, love, forebearance, hospitality, gifts, service and the word of God. Peter places God firmly at the centre of it all...For me, this is church as it should be, whatever worship style we choose to wrap it up in.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Little Miss Busy...A week in the Life of a C of E curate.

Before I begin I need to confess that I stole this idea from a fellow curate because it was really interesting to read what filled her week last week: see here. Thanks Karen.

MONDAY: Started work about 8.30am, answered emails, phone calls and then prepared 'All Age Worship' for Sunday. Attended a wonderful women clergy lunch with our Dean of Women, Libby Lane, our Archdeacon, Michael Gilbertson and our Suffragan Bishop, Keith Sinclair. It was really useful to talk formally about the issues facing women in the church and informally with one another. I left about 3.45pm and went straight off to pick up my son from his school choir practice. In the evening I attended PCC where much was discused and some very positive decisions made.

TUESDAY: I had to travel down to London by train to attend an AWESOME committee meeting. I left at 8.30am and got into Euston around 11.30. I made my way to Pimlico where our chair, Liz has her vicarage. We had a lovely lunch together and then continued with our meeting. It was fantastic to meet with such a wonderful group of women, all evangelical theologically and all faithfully following God as ordained ministers. Much was discussed and I realised how much I really enjoy this link to the wider church and the issues under scrutiny at the moment. It is a valuable connection and one I really treasure. Got home about 10.30pm...a long but rewarding day.

WEDNESDAY: I was relieved to discover via an email that it was the Methodist Ministers turn to take communion at the local nursing home. I enjoy going in usually but had so much on this week that any extra space for preparation was very useful. I picked up a message inviting me to go and speak at the local Methodist churches fellowship meeting in November. I prepared Housegroup, phoned a few people and answered emails. I had to take our two kittens for their second set of jabs at pm and then began my sermon for Sunday evening. Took some time out when my son got in from school because in the evening I was going out again, this time to Housegroup. I don't seem to be seeing very much of my family this week; will make up for it at the weekend I hope.

THURSDAY: Presided at 10am Communion and stayed to have coffee afterwards. Then went to the Vicarage for a supervision meeting with my incumbent. In the afternoon I did some more sermon preparation, this time for the morning service and got the intercessions ready. The evening was spent at the Alpha meal where we were very pleased to welcome about 20 people. It went well and some good first introductions were made. The venue at Delamere park is proving to be a good one.

FRIDAY: Back to my previous place of work, The Grange Senior School, Hartford, to take their Harvest assembly. The powerpoint worked and it all seemed to go well. Enjoyed seeing pupils and staff again. The went to visit a member of housegroup who has had an operation to take her a card and some flowers from the group. Came home and did some more preparation for Sunday before seeing a friend for an hour. In the evening took Tom to Youth Group and stayed to do tuck shop and help out with general games etc. Then on to the local village hall for a Church organised Quiz night and fish supper. Thanks to some very clever team members (not me) we won! Phew...Fridays aren't usually this packed!

SATURDAY: I took this as a complete day off as I was supposed to have one on Monday but didn't in the end due to other committments. Was great to chill out with the family and do very little after such a busy week.

SUNDAY: Busy Sabbath!!! 9.30am - CW Communion, lead and preach. 11.15 - All Age: whole thing, 6.30pm - BCP Evening prayer: whole thing. All services went fine although we were down on numbers at 9.30am. A lot of our regulars were away I think. Had fun at the 'All Age' with the theme 'Taste and see that the Lord is good'. Nap in the afternoon, needed the recharge! Got home from the evening service about 8pm to find I had a delicious Indian take away waiting and a glass or two of wine. A lovely end to a good but busier than usual 'week in the life of this curate'.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


My husband today made what I thought was an excellent observation in the form of an analogy. We were driving back from church and he was congratulating me on my sermon (which was nice). He said that I'd got the balance exactly right between encouragement and challenge. Then came the analogy...

If the church is a pile of burning coals then to just pile more and more coals on (AKA endless encouragement in the form of platitudes) would choke it and cause it to die. If on the other hand one merely poked at the fire(AKA challenge and criticism) then it would burn itself out very quickly and also die. BUT, by feeding a fire and poking it sometimes when needed to keep it alive, the fire stays alight and has the potential to grow.

I'm going to remember that...a healthy church needs both encouragement and challenge. Too much of one and not enough of the other makes the coals go out...

Inspired! Thanks Grant!

Sunday, August 07, 2011


Everyone needs to be encouraged...and some people are so very good at it. I am blessed with some lovely encouragers at church, people who love me for who I am and tell me when I get it right...those who appreciate my gifts and encourage me to use them all the more. I thank God for them and pray that sometimes I can be just a little bit like them.

The Bible lists encouragement as a spiritual gift: Romans 12:6-8

'We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement. if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.'

It is up there with preaching, teaching and leading...and yet so often it is the more up front gifts whcih are celebrated and talked about. This I think is a big mistake. without the encouragers in the church many would go under, may succomb to those who sadly seem to see their mission as discouragers. It is the encouragers who keep the love of God at the forefront, who make us feel enthusiastic and apprecated, who make us want to serve.

My prayer is that encouragement would be seen as a vital ministry, an essential part of the building up of the body of Christ and a truly mighty gift which when used correctly will be a force for good in the church of God.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A study of the Apostle Peter

A solid yet imaginative leader for a disparate group of renegrades. The position: to turn them into a force for good which will shake the known world. A learned yet grounded visionary with staying power is needed for this important position who knows the mind of God and can convey it to others…prayerfully, powerfully and accurately. Applications are being received for an immediate start after Easter AD33.
At first glance….Peter wasn’t exactly a great prospect…
It could be said that his CV had some rather obvious “gaps” in it. In Acts 4 he is described as unschooled or uneducated. Consequently he was a fisherman, an ordinary every day profession, nothing special or especially religious. He was prone to break his word and make promises that he didn’t keep. When he cut off the servant’s ear in John 18:10 we see a quick temperedness - an impetuous and impulsive side to his character which showed itself at other points in the gospels. Neither could he always control his tongue, cursing those who accused him of being a follower of Jesus and lying to get out of this potentially dangerous situation. It could therefore be leveled at him that he was also showing cowardice here and when he hid away with the other disciples after Jesus arrest…
As I said, on paper it doesn’t look great…at first glance anyway…
So why was it that Jesus chose him to lead the early church, what was it about his character which made him the right man for the job?
At Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ, there was Peter—boldly preaching the first sermon with his fellow apostles. However, it didn’t stop there. The man who fled for his life when he was identified as a disciple of Jesus was the very same man who, despite the threat of imprisonment, fearlessly proclaimed that Jesus was risen to those who could easily have had him arrested.
When the counsel commanded him not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, this once reluctant disciple replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (cf. Acts 5:29).
So how can we account for this incredible transformation? How did this ordinary Galilean fisherman become a seemingly fearless and notable force for God? How did he go from catching fish to catching men? How did this uneducated man with an unsubmissive personality and an opinionated knack of putting his foot in it, become a rock-like leader—a great preacher and in every sense the dominant figure in the first twelve chapters of Acts?
Very simply, he realized who Jesus really was. He encountered the risen Christ and it was as if everything he had heard and seen and experienced over the three years of Jesus ministry fell into place.
Peter says in his own first epistle, verse 3-4:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
A new hope, a new birth..a new start...
But the journey to great leader and preacher wasn’t an easy one. Jesus said ‘follow me’ three years earlier. Peter’s impulsive nature was a good thing on that occasion…he did exactly that…he followed him. That trust paid off, that lack of concern for the things which could have dragged him back was an advantage. It set him on the road to a new life which would be fulfilled after Jesus death and resurrection.
So what can we take from this?
1. No matter what your previous background or your present circumstances, God can use you in his service. Like St Peter, our faults can be molded and fashioned into virtues. Weakness can become strength. As Jesus himself promised, “Mustard-seed faith” can be enhanced to move mountains.
2. It takes time to become the person Jesus wants you to become. In 1 Peter 2:2 Peter talks of growing up into salvation. No one is shaped into a mature follower of Christ overnight. Peter certainly wasn’t. In fact, approximately twenty years into his ministry he still had unresolved issues around his attitudes to the Gentiles. Whenever the Jews came to visit, Peter only ate with the Jews. However, when the Jews went home, he changed his practice and ate with Gentile Christians. Eight-to-ten years later it took a vision from heaven to convince him that God, in fact, accepted all men—including Gentiles—into the faith
3. Jesus seeks a willing spirit. Peter’s problem wasn’t his lack of zeal; it was how he employed this quality that often got him into trouble. Sometimes we can see a trait in a negative light, but look at it from another angle and we see it entirely differently. Impulsiveness, outspokenness and quick temperedness when someone you love is threatened can become devotion, determination and passion when it is moulded by the Holy spirit and directed correctly. Once Peter came to terms with the concept that Jesus was risen, his fervency was channeled in a very constructive and powerful way towards leadership and the creation of the early church.
From Peter we can learn that God sees beyond what we are to what we can become. We may look at our lives and think they seem unimpressive or lacking in potential. We may see faults in our characters, or past failures, we may see a lack of understanding or admit that we have been unwilling to follow Christ when things got difficult. But Jesus looks at us and instead of our failings he sees our full potential. I wonder then, what does he see in you?