staying in the flow

Someone wise said something to me recently that has helped me navigate the sometimes mundane and irritatingly recurrent problems of semi rural – indeed most types of – church life (keys, parking, invoices, emails, damp, heating, grass mowing). It acknowledged that these daily annoyances are never far from the real life of a minister but…

staring down the blank, and finding blessing

Some days it can feel like a brick wall. Life can be utterly obdurate, like an unwilling child dragging their heels along the supermarket aisle, giving you hell in public. We pray to be saved from ordeals, but they mostly come anyway. Thankfully God knows we ‘are but dust’. How true, despite advertising giving us…

family matters

The best quote of the morning goes to a small child in family worship today, in whose mind something had triggered a feeling of belonging. Who, amid scissors, paper and general messiness between the choir pews (no, we have no tables, chairs, separate Sunday School room, only lovely mess on the floor), announced to all…

hidden agenda

Your parish priest has a hidden agenda, and I’m about to reveal what it is. You know that seemingly innocent coffee you were having with your caring minister? The one you offered when your vicar said ‘I haven’t seen you for a while – shall we have a coffee?’ and you replied ‘yes, that’d be…

when imagination helps and hinders

Being a minister is a double edged sword. I went into this ministerial life with sky high hopes and the ability to dream. I’m good at imagining wonder and magic, even when everything around me looks, smells and sounds unimaginably dreary. I imagine all the people who’ve ever connected with the church in this place…

meditation and beyond

I’m still meditating. I don’t know if I’m getting anywhere, but I do feel a certain calm, and at least now it’s habitual. My favourite meditation time of day at present is midwinter sunset, around 4pm. It’s that pivotal time between early afternoon, when there was still time to ‘do ministry’ (a pastoral visit or…

have an adequate Christmas

An interesting phenomenon happens around two days before Christmas. It may have been happening even before that – the vague feeling that you haven’t got enough… Not enough food in the house: this rises to ridiculous siege mentality proportions on Christmas Eve – when you dash out to stock up on vegetables enough to feed…

consuming Christmas

I can feel the tug of it stronger each day now. The pull of those appetites which all the adverts for perfume, Christmassy food and designer knitwear want to pander to. Every time I switch on the TV I’m just getting into the story line and that tug pulls me every 22 minutes – 25%…

when doing nothing is something

Some years ago one of our UK Bishops wrote a book called Do Nothing, Christmas is Coming, a catchy title for this time of year when, although in the church we are trying really hard to slow down, take stock and reflect on the sombre Advent themes (death, and judgment, heaven and hell, in case you…

why failure is good

No one likes admitting to failure but I’ve been reading a lot lately about its undoubted spiritual benefits, which, although they don’t yield themselves up immediately, are hidden in the tapestry somewhere, if we can unweave some of their more difficult threads. Failure comes in may guises, and mainly we go through life trying to…

why we are ashamed of weakness

Most people don’t particularly like admitting weakness, but Church Leaders are possibly worse at it than anyone. This fact is depressing, since our priestly role model felt frustrated, tired, wept and finally was strung up to die on a cross, so not much outward show of strength there, at least not in the generally accepted…

should we close the churches that aren’t working?

I heard a minister who’s been ordained a lot longer than me, say recently that we should close the churches that ‘aren’t working’. It was one of those moments when you feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights. I think my face must have blanked out at that moment. I stared feebly as he…