Monday, 29 March 2021

Easter excitement, and my fare-well to you

Every day we should celebrate the amazing good news that Love is stronger than death, that Truth always trumps lies, that God surprises us by revealing his awesome self in ways which can touch us deeply in the ordinary things of life. Easter is especially dedicated to all Jesus gave us in example, forgiveness, zest, humour, and humanity.

He's our rock, and source of energy. He's reliability, and adventure. If you want boring stay put. If you want excitement follow him.

I leave you in God's good hands, with a real sense of excitement for your future. After 40 years 'vicaring' I need a complete change, and will be enjoying retirement opportunities to write as Elder Adok. I'm really looking forward to another evolution of God's faith in me as I return to civistreet.

Link an inkjet printer I've had different colours to work. You've been very patient putting up with me for over 23 years. There have been phases during that time when I've been part of teams that: designed, built, and thrive in the Church Rooms; trained curates to become vicars; assisted C of E Churches in the borough through new appointments, joys, and sadness; evolved the Community Angels; but most of all being part of our gorgeous communities next to the sea.

Fare well, and may God bless you and keep you. May his face shine upon you, and may he give you his peace, his wisdom, his strength, his love, and his laughter. And may the blessing of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit rest upon you always.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Take up, not give up!

The privilege of serving local communities lets me see how we are ticking. The second and third 'lockdowns' have seemed harder to bear than the first. At one level that's not logical because the first was largely an unknown open-ended challenge, whereas 2 and 3 were/are shorter with more of the same. Landing on the moon in 1969 was not exactly straightforward, so it's hardly surprising that coping with a pandemic has its problems!

Perhaps it's the feeling of going backwards; progress is often 3 steps forward, 2 back, 3 forward. Unrealistic expectations have been dashed; a normal Christmas reduced to a day, with strong guidance to avoid mixing at all. It could be that we've had a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, but are still in dark dank conditions.

So how about treating yourself this Lent instead of giving things up. We've had to give up so much! I'm not arguing we overdose on chocolate, rather bathe in what's wholesome. Here are some examples. Observing nature unwrap the seasons from a similar viewpoint each day.

Research has shown that watching programmes about fellow creatures lifts our mood; I find short extracts just before turning in put life in perspective. Surely respect for nature is our top priority, beginning with each other, the challenge of global warming, and reuse/recycling so that we don't exhaust our supply of raw materials.

Covid has made me less patient with myself. I'll be taking up the Lent challenge of giving more time to what energises me: observation, music, creativity, friendships, exercise, beer!?

May God bless us as we spoil ourselves in order to be better at spoiling others!

Monday, 25 January 2021

Certainty & surprise

Adventure is a mix of certainty and surprise. If everything is predictable, well why bother with such boredom? Going out totally unprepared would be crazy too. Perhaps the mix is illustrated by a 'toss a penny' walk. Stick you coat on and take a coin.

Go out your front door, and then toss the penny to decide whether to turn right or left. At the next junction do the same, and so on. These walks have the capacity to get tedious very quickly, for example you might end up in a cul-de-sac or find yourself going round in circles [bit like our Covid challenge!], you could find yourself completely lost; on the other hand they can take you where you've never been before.

What we need is a balance between certainty and surprise. Many have told me how difficult having hopes raised only for them to be dashed at the last minute. They have also spoken of discovering better priorities, and new relationships with neighbours and nature. It is realistic to believe certainty will increase this year.

Jesus gave very practical advice about worrying: take a day at a time, and keep things in perspective. [Matthew 6.25-34 has more]. You might ask what this means for me as I near retirement in April.

Well, this last year we have certainly gained new perspectives with worship on-line being as important as in-church. More follow Facebook than attend church, but it's an amazing privilege to be safely with others.
I am making preparations to write my third novel [the first only took 18 years!], another couple of children's books, and publish these Views through Hiss Farm Concepts. It will be great to have quality blocks of time without interruption, but I will miss the huge privilege of being with you through thick and thin.

So it's more adventure for all of us. Bring it on!!

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Radicalisation is good for us?

Looks like Covid 19 is going to take at least a year, and we've been finding out what roots we have to take us through this challenge. In many ways we've become more radical, in the sense of rooted ~ and that's good! Many have told me how watching nature through the seasons has helped keep them sane.

Of course there's another understanding of radical, and that's someone who loosens ties the that bind and goes off in a completely different direction. Perhaps we need a bit of both as we find ourselves in 2021. Let me explain.

Psalm 1 speaks about trees with good roots being stable regardless of the weather challenges they face, and we need reliable truths to hang onto. At the same time flexibility to think in new ways is vital. Covid has given technology a fast forward, and we certainly won't return to square one.

Shopping will be different, so will meetings, and sharing worship outside church buildings. These give us huge opportunities, but there are risks. Worship could just be marketed like some product, and vicars might become online stars!? We need to keep our feet on the ground, and make sure worship doesn't become just another branch of our excellent entertainment industry.

There's lots of mileage in the idea of a Church [people not buildings] being like living stones. They don't rattle up and down like pebbles on a beach, but show a home for companionship, prayer, praise, healing, wisdom, laughter, peace, creativity, and glimpses into eternity. 

As we begin a new year we should be proud of how much we have evolved and adapted, but we always need the Good Lord's guidance. There are many challenges ahead! This prayer may help us.

"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."

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Every Christmas should be different

Same old, same old ... kills off any celebration. We need to constantly evolve as circumstances change. Christmas should radicalise us! Not in some daft self-righteous sense, but because it reminds us of our roots. Jesus Christ was born under a bureaucratic lockdown when everyone had to register in the place where they were born.

Brexit is a tea party [no offence to any Americans welcomed among us] compared to the political chaos of his day. Roman imperialism vied with puppet kings and religious authorities for control of peoples lives. His 'NHS' was overstretched, and so his birth took place in a stable.

This will be my last Christmas with you, and I have celebrated many under wildly different circumstances: tragic funerals either side, festive weddings, baptisms at the Springhead with Salvation Army leading carols, personal traffic of one sort or another. And every time the story of the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe giving our little planet his message of love has been mind-blowing and heart-warming.

We may well have to be physically distanced from each other, but it's vital we remain socially close. God didn't maintain superior physical distance, but became intimate in the Christ child. May we accept such wonder into our hearts and minds.

A very happy, peaceful, and fun Christmas for all of us.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Bubbles easily pop

I've been done for speeding, and as a result am a safer driver. For example, I deliberately change down a gear for speed restrictions. It annoys me when others complain about speed cameras because they improve safety for all of us. The same applies about Covid etiquette; it's there for everybody. Bubbles are important but so easily pop.

Right now complacency is a real risk, especially since our local count is relatively low. Be assured though that at least a couple of schools have had to reduce numbers because of positive Covid tests. One of our relatives has it, and his family network is isolating. We'll only beat this thing if we're persistent, careful, and use belts as well as braces.

May I encourage you to invest in a smart mobile that can operated NHS track & trace; the app works easily, and is uncluttered. I also recommend which assists in forecasting positive cases. The two are completely separate but can play a part in us looking after each other.

The devil is described as a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. It's a frightening image which brings to mind evil that cannot be seen. There's for more good in our world, but we should never be complacent about aiming for the best in life, for ourselves and for others.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Ringing true

I've been listening to some BBC pods on the manufacturing of doubt, a technique to muddy the waters of truth. Two good examples spring to mind: smoking kills but was not publicly banned in England until 2007 [2005 in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales]; fossil fuels cause global warming but some still don't accept this even now. Active doubt sources have delayed acceptance of truth.

The new game is rowing back on agreements. Our government has publicly admitted defaulting on Brexit, and condoning 'eye test' behaviour while expecting everyone else to follow Covid 19 etiquette. Jesus had harsh words against any form of hypocrisy or self-righteousness. So what should you and I do?

How about celebrating truth in the way we tell it? There's no such thing as a cantankerous Christian; Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding reception. He delighted in celebrating true love. Of course we might be sad or heartbroken by the weight we carry, but God's love seeks our eternal fulfilment. We can delight in the truth that sets us free.

The greatest sermons don't need words!? If we ring true that can be far more powerful than grand clever pronouncements. It's not about slick performance, no it's being real that counts.

We should encourage truth at every level. We should tell it how it is! It belongs to us all, like tax. If someone fiddles their tax return to pay less than they should, they're defrauding you and me. If someone breaks the speed limit [hands up, I have] they are making our roads less safe. Take away truth and our world ceases up.

Delighting in the truth is an excellent pastime.