Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rockets, Bombs and the Peace of Christ

Facebook is full of people talking about their Christmas shopping, their excitement at the forthcoming celebrations. I am surprised by how organised everyone appears to be, and the effort they put into the present buying. I am writing this article while I watch Children in Need and I am thinking about all the people in Need this Christmas and what they are all doing around the world while we all collect our gifts ready to give presents.

While in this country we  prepare for Christmas by shopping and partying, elsewhere it is not such a easy ride to Christmas.

I wonder what people in Gaza and Israel are hoping for this Christmas, perhaps to be still alive, not to have lost a family member or members in the violence. 

I wonder what those in Syria will be thinking about as the violence ripes the country apart.

The churches in Nigeria, will they be able to celebrate without being blown up, killed or kidnapped.

And what about those troops celebrating christmas away from their families in a land full of danger

What about all those effected by the revelations about Jimmy Saville. They will be hoping for justice and to be finally believed after all these years. There are also many people, for whom the revelations about Jimmy Saville will bring unpleasant reminders of events in their own life. Emotions that were once buried now returning to haunt them.

We seem to constantly be failing children in our society,  hear in Doncaster, recent reports show there is still an institutional failure by the council to have sound and safe ways to keep children in need - quite simply safe and sound. However, we have also seen what happens when common sense is not heeded by the false accusations leveled at Lord McAlpine.

The vast vast majority of people adore children but sadly there is a minority that prey on children and their vulnerability. all of us need a good mix of common sense and vigilance at all times.

The heart of Christmas is of course not the richness and comfort of our own lives but the poverty of a child born to parents who had no where to sleep so they ended up bunking in with the domesticated animals. The story of a child born in poverty and who then died as man in captivity will be repeated around the world in the time between now and Christmas and will continue into the future, repeated over and over again.

God does not come to us in shopping centers, nor in the rich and famous, neither does God come all neatly wrapped up in posh paper. God came as one of the weakest in society to show us that true power is found in grace and mercy not in rockets and bombs. He came as a baby to show us to value the weakest above the strong, surely if we can do this then that is the greatest safeguard for us all.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A time to remember

The window in the North Isle of Wadworth church, that depicts the stoning of Stephen should be a reminder that early christians did not have life easy, many lost their lives because they believed in Jesus Christ.

Stephen is recorded in the Bible as the first Christian Martyr, there have been many more since, many throughout the world this year. Many more are held in prison for their beliefs.  Remembering their sacrifice is something I feel very passionate about as do others in the congregation, and of course Shirley had been an advocate of Open Doors for years, before I arrived at Wadworth.  The bible urges us to remember our fellow Christians who are suffering in prison. As communications improve we get to know about more and more examples of Christians suffering for their faith, we are asked to pray for certain situations and instances, by organisations like Open Doors. The window showing the stoning of Stephen acts like a marker in history urging us to do something, to contribute to the prayer support that our fellow christians are due. The window yells out “you should be doing something”! And so we shall.

Some of you will have already noticed the re-siting of some notice boards to the the north isle altar, and during the All Saints service on 1st November and continuing onto the 4th November (when we take part in the international day of pray for persecuted christians) we shall formally make this area a focus of attention for persecuted Christians in our Parish. How this area in church will develop I am not sure but it is a step on a path, the end destination only God knows at the moment.

We continue the theme of remembrance as we proceed into the following week and Remembrance Sunday. Britain has now had troops in Afghanistan for over 11 years and as I write, 433 service personnel have lost their life. Almost 10,000 troops are still in Afghanistan. Numerous documentaries have been made about the conflict, and I have been struck, by the sheer bravery of the people serving out in Afghanistan and by the starkness of the conditions they fight under. It is the bravery and sacrifice we remember.

On the third sunday in November we have Bishop Peter joining us to lead worship at both the 9am service at Wadworth and the 3pm service at Loversall.  Please come and join us as he is a great speaker. We also start Prison Week on this sunday and continue with prayer services on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm at Wadworth Church. We need a Prison system that works, and we have a very large prison population in Doncaster with 4 prisons. At each service we will pray specifically about a prison and an aspect of the justice system.

We end November with one of my favorite sundays of the year, when we celebrate Christ the King. This is one of those Sundays when you can sense the awesomeness of God, and make some sense of the daftness of life on this earth. Whether we are imprisoned for our faith, sacrifice our life for our country, try to make sense of the most terrible of crimes and how to punish the perpetrators, nothing makes sense without the sense that there is more to our existence than our life in this earth. The Kingly might of Christ, risen and victorious, is the only way have to make sense of anything, earthly or heavenly.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Harvest-We reap what we sow

I have always found the lyrics in the Bruno Mars song “Grenade” disturbing, especially as it has introduced the word into popular culture, anesthetising society to the use of a weapon as a metaphor for unrequited love. 

A bride once asked to go into church for her wedding  to the song without actually releasing the songs full content and context. I have heard school children singing the song. It has been used on X factor. 

For those of you who do not know the song, it speaks of a love that has been spurned even though the person  spurned is prepared to die for the other person.  That is where the grenade comes in, “I would have caught a grenade for you” is the songs lyrics. These words are uttered without any comprehension of the what they mean or the consequences of the actions.

In my view this song is as equally dangerous as the gun culture of rap songs, but has sneaked in below the line of condemnation. 

This week two police officers caught a grenade for society, in a cowardly act of entrapment. Now the song did not cause the incident but in my eyes it brought the thought into people minds, society digested the concept, mixed it with drug and gang violence and the potent mix has resulted in four deaths.

There are of course questions: were the grenades came from, who supplied them?  

Sadly the story does not end there because in the same week, the heroism of the police was unrequited by government as they were told to “ known their place” in Downton Abbey style by a government Chief Whip. The fact he has not resigned as I write this article is an equally cowardly act.

I have written before about how people say, ”oh it’s alright,  it’s only a song, it’s only a game” lowers the bar of what is acceptable, plants the thoughts in people minds, that something is OK when it is not OK.

Sadly guns are  in our society, we try to restrain their use, we make obtaining them difficult, their unlawful use and possession is taken very seriously. While they are foremost an instrument of death we are sadly familiar with hearing about them. Also, the deadly use of knives has all too frequently been in the headlines recently. 

However guns and knives have been present in society for a long time, but grenades we only hear about on battlefields, restricted to their use by soldiers at times of warfare. The use of a grenade somehow defiles our very society, it tells us we have sunk lower than we can possibly imagine, it is a warning from the battlefield that unless we want our streets to become battlefields then we need to return to the roots of the Christian belief that built this nation. 

This terrible incident in Manchester really should make us all wake up and think we need to draw a line in the stand and demand better for society. The problem is, we are society so we need to start with ourselves. We all need to raise the bar,  think about what we accept and actually start to say NO to those who constantly try to lower the bar of what is acceptable in what we read, in what we listen to, and what we look like. 

Dying for someone who does not return your love is not new, Jesus did it for the whole of humanity. Some accept his love and this act, some don’t. My prayer is we start to rediscover the life of Jesus in our society so that society is changed by it.

As you read the above it will be October, and during October we are following up on my article a few months ago about church finances by having a sermon series on Christian giving. Now this is not all about money before you all turn the page. I will be preaching about what our response is to what God has done for us in sending His son to die for our sin so that we my have eternal life. We will end the series on the 28/10/12 with a pledge Sunday when people can either renew their gift to Church or begin a new gift to church.

Now, yes, church does need to have a better  financial position so we are asking people to re-consider what they give to church. We hope some people will give regularly when they have not done so before.

We are also looking for people to give their time and talent in a variety of ways such as being part of a number of groups to help with the running and development of the church. For example, perhaps you could help with the production of the magazine, be part of a new welcome team in church, help organise events, help with looking after the buildings. 

I also want to look at how we could be better at following up on bereavements, baptism and weddings. You may not even be a regular church member but would like to get involved, if so then please contact me.

The beginning of October also sees the season of Creationtide coming to a close with our Harvest celebrations, which are shown on another page. Any produce given will go to St John’s Hospice. As last year, we will be focusing on raising money for Farm Africa during Harvest Events under the slogan Give Hunger the Boot. Farm Africa are a charity whose aim is to find sustainable solutions to the problem of feeding the people of Africa through teaching new farm techniques, improving irrigation etc. 

At  beginning of October we also  start  a “Saints Alive Course”. This is a great course to do if you would like to understand or get a refresher in the basics of the Christian Faith. We are having a pre-course meeting on Tuesday the 2nd October at 7:30 in St John the Evangelist in Balby for those who would like further information, or you can contact me.

And lastly, you may remember me writing previously about having a more focused area towards the persecuted church around the side altar in St John the Baptist. I hope that we can formally do this at the all Saints Day service on the 1st November. We will then follow this up on the first Sunday in November as we join in with other churches around the world as we take part in the International Day of Pray for the Persecuted Church.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bishop of Sheffield - at Wadworth and Balby churches this Sunday

The Bishop of Sheffield, Revd Dr Steven Croft, will be leading worship at St John the Baptist Church in Wadworth this Sunday at 9am and later at St John the Evangelist  Church in Balby (on Greenfield Lane, opposite GPs) at 11am

If you haven't been to church for awhile then this Sunday would be a great time to come back. Bishop Steven is a great preacher and this is a  great chance to meet him, so please come along.

Later in the day at 3pm at St Katherines Church Loversall we have a special service for the Healing of Creation which is suitable for all ages. So please come and join us on this


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Creationtide 2012

You may remember I wrote about church finances in a recent months and as a follow up to this, and to make sure we are doing everything we possibly can be doing, we begin September with  a guest  preacher, Nick Hutton, who is coming to talk about christian giving. Nick has already been to speak to the Church council and is now following this up by speaking to the morning congregation. During October will we be following this up further with a specific series of sundays preaching about giving and finishing with a pledge sunday. More details of this next month.

We have a second guest during September, Bishop Steven, the Bishop of Sheffield is visiting on the 30th September. It has been a long time since a Diocesan bishop has visited the parish, probably about 8 years, so please come and support. If you haven’t been to church for awhile this would be a great reason to come back and see us.

From the second sunday in September for five sundays we then start a new season in church, called Creationtide. Some churches have been doing this now for 5 years and this year there will be a focus on sustainable energy.

Energy is a gift from God as part of his creation but one we hardly notice... until there’s a power cut!  But one in five people in the world has no access to electricity and misses out on tools, communication and so many opportunities we take for granted. Two in five rely on burning anything from wood to animal excrement for cooking and heating, and the smoke and gas from this damage both environment and health: two million people a year are estimated to die as a result.

The United Nations has made 2012 the Year of Sustainable Energy for All, with a target of giving the whole world reliable and clean energy by 2030. But this is not just a subject for the developing world.  Here we need to make radical changes to move away from electricity generated by climate-change causing and increasingly expensive fossil fuels to renewable options, together with greater efficiency and lower consumption. These alternatives are proving controversial and we still have some issues to resolve, but we are running out of time to achieve the targets that scientists are saying are needed.

This may seem like something we can leave to the experts but, as Christians, we have twin responsibilities both to care for the poor and to care for the planet. So we need to be aware of the issues and know what we can do as individuals and as churches to take action. This is why Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) is making Sustainable Energy its theme for the 2012 Creation Time season, and we hope you will make use of the materials in churches, home groups and as individuals.

We finish Creationtide with Harvest Sunday on the first sunday in October and i can give you advanced warning that this years Sing-along-a-Harvest will be on Friday 5th October in Wadworth Community Center. 

Hope to see you.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Are you in the long grass?

The probation service are gradually getting the churchyard grass cut back to the usual neatness. We hope that the problems we have experienced are now resolved and normal service is resumed. I am very great full for those in the community who stepped in and cut grass around church and in the new part of the churchyard.  
It always amazes me how quickly cultivated nature returns to being wild when cultivation stops. The same is true of humanity. We have seen several examples recently of nation states descent into chaos. In such cases, for example Syria, humanities capacity for atrocities flourishes and evil's cold heart rises. It will take years to resolve Syria. The deep wounds created, years to heal.
You cannot compare this country with Syria but we are become increasing uncultivated and the wild grass and weeds are taking over. 
One worrying trend has been the privatisation of security and the legal system.     It cannot be right that we have privatised jails, prisoner transport etc. the probation service has been tasked with self funding. To do this they will need to deploy those doing community service to those organisations who will pay more for their services. The danger of course is that instead of the community service being used to do jobs that probably would not get done, they will replace paid jobs. This is morally wrong. 
The armed services are increasingly being deployed in civic duties. First on fire tenders, then they were going to be used to drive fuel tankers, they are going to be used for security at Olympics. These are all dangerous precedents
The problem is that as soon as you mix profit and security, profit affects security and decisions about security are unholy influenced by profit.
At an individual level, we need to think carefully about we watch and read. The success of 80 shades of grey reveals a widespread apatite for what I call "social porn". This is not healthy. We should be focusing on healthy relationships not looking for a buzz from reading about or watching it! 
Oh it is only a bit of harmless fun I hear u say but it's not. The problem with all this social porn is it makes an increasing wide range of sexual practice acceptable. Just because the fruit is ripe doesn't mean you should pluck it. Some fruit, however ripe or tasty should remain unplucked.
The problem is as we "normalise" sexual practices we make faithfulness and contentment in our relationships harder to fulfil. This makes adultery and breakdown of relationship more likely.
It is easy to blame society for all the problems but under the cloak of a tolerant society perhaps we have become too tolerant. It is all too easy to look outside ourselves but it is with ourselves we must start. We need to deal with those parts of our lives that have become uncultivated or have always been wild. So this month let's all reexamine our own lives find the long grass the weeds and start to cultivate. We should not do this alone but invite God to lead us in this restoration work.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ah! Vicar! Did you know the lights have gone out on the church tower.

First I would like to thank the whole community for a very successful celebration of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. It was good to see everyone working together for a common aim not just in Wadworth but in all communities. It was as if people were seeking something to celebrate given the increasing uncertainties people face in life.
There is no doubt that the constant flow of bad news, whether it is financial or the war in Afghanistan, the lack of trust in success governments have all taken their toll on peoples lives. The Church is not immune from what is going on in our communities and like everyone else we have also seen large increases in Gas and Electricity charges, plus we have to comply with an increasing number of regulations, all of which cost money.
A common myth is that the church receives money from the government. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact recent changes in the law reduce the monies we can claim in Gift Aid and also increase the number of items on which we have to pay VAT 
While the amount of money given by the congregation has steadily increased year on year, our costs have increased by more, and for the last couple of years we have needed to use our reserves. However, this year, our costs have far outweighed money we have received, and as a result we have needed to take several actions to reduce the money we spend. 
The most visible of these cost cutting measures is to turn off the external lighting of both churches. No one likes a cold church but we are trying to find the best balance between comfort and cost. Both these measures reduce our carbon foot print which is also good for the environment.
Many of you have given to the restoration fund at church and I want to re-assure you that this money is untouched and ring-fenced, so it cannot be used for the day to day running of the church. The wonderful efforts that have taken place to raise money for restoration, may of course re-directed monies from peoples pockets, that would have been given for the day to day running of the church.
I would therefore ask that even if you do not come to church, but value the presence of the church in your community, you would consider some financial support. This can be done by Standing Order, envelopes or online so please speak to the Vicar or Jonathan Redden if you would like to do this.
God has been generous with us in sending his only son Jesus to die for us. God loves a cheerful giver, and I pray that through the generosity of this community we may continue to do God’s work for many generations to come.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Jubilee! Have we forgotten how to rest?

There has been an outcry by some over the decision to extend Sunday Trading this summer around the times of the Olympics. The idea of the Sabbath rest can be found in the Bible. Some scholars think that one of the reasons the Ten Commandments says that no work should be done on a Sunday, is to remove the Israelites from their history as a slave nation.

The Israelites had arrived in Egypt at the time of Joseph (he of the multi-coloured coat) and over successive generations had grown in number but also had been enslaved by the Egyptians. The great escape of the Egyptian Slave nation through the Red Sea and into the desert is well known. In the desert the Israelis did a lot of moaning and groaning about their life and they even saw their lives in slavery through rose tinted spectacles and wanted to go back to their lives as slaves!

God gave the Israelites a day of rest to break the cycle of slavery, as slaves they would have received no breaks, just work and more work. A day off every week would have been a revelation to them. Slaves do not have days off.

Latter when the Israelites had settled in the promised land, the idea of a Sabbath rest was extended so that every seventh year was a year of reduced activity and then after seven times seven years (49 years) the fiftieth year was called the year of the Jubilee.

Jubilee is also a constant theme throughout the Bible. The word ‘jubilee’ stems from the Hebrew word ‘Yobel’, which refers to the ram or ram’s horn with which jubilee years were proclaimed. In Leviticus it states that such a horn or trumpet is to be blown on the tenth day of the seventh month after the lapse of ‘seven Sabbaths of years’ (49 years) as a proclamation of liberty through-out the land of the tribes of Israel. The year of jubilee was a consecrated year of ‘Sabbath-rest’ and liberty. During this year all debts were cancelled, lands were restored to their original owners and family members were restored to one another.

The year of jubilee was also central to the ministry of Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus makes the claim to the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 61:1–2. Jesus states that he has come to ‘proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (Luke 4:18–19 TNIV). This is the year of jubilee.

I am increasingly beginning to think that as a nation we are enslaving ourselves ..slowly. We have even secularised the idea of the sabbath with the european working time directive and then most large companies have policies for Improving Worklife Balance.

The economy now often dominates the news, dominates the efforts of politicians and governments. Have we becomes slaves to the economy? Surly the economy should be subservient to our life and loves, it should be secondary to care of people. It should also be secondary to how we live our lives not why we live our lives.

As part of the Jubilee celebrations this year lets make a conscious effort to change the way we live and stop our on-going and slow enslavement to the economy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The clock is now well and truly ticking towards the major events that are occurring this summer. Very soon the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee will be upon us, then the European Football championships, then the Olympics and Para-Olympics. We are promised a summerfest like no other. 
This month I am going to focus on the Queen’s Jubilee and one or two other anniversaries that I think are also important to remember.
The first is the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war. There have been many programs on TV about the conflict. However the 25th May will be the anniversary of the sinking of the Atlantic Conveyor. A ship which was requisitioned for the war. Russell has been working hard to pull together a service of commemoration for those who died from the ship at Doncaster Minster. Others from doncaster who died in the Falklands conflict will also be remembered. Why Doncaster Minster you may ask? Well there is a memorial at the Minster to Ian North, the Captain of the Atlantic Conveyor who was from Doncaster.
350 years ago on the 19th May 1662 parliament gave its permission for the introduction of a Book of Common Prayer (BCP) for the Church of England. Widespread use started on the 24th August the same year. The book was based on earlier prayer books compiled mainly by Thomas Cranmer in the 16th century. Until the latter part of the 20th century the book was still in common usage in Church of English worship. Phrases and words from the books pages abound in common usage. 
We begin our celebration of its 350th anniversary on Ascension Day, 17th May at 7:30pm in St John the Baptist Wadworth, when we will use Evensong and Holy Communion services from the Book of Common Prayer. The following Tuesday the 22nd May we will have a Matins service from the BCP at 10am and at this service pray for the forthcoming Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the forthcoming week.  Other dates as part of the celebration will be announced next month.
We will be using our All Age Sunday School  to  learn more about the Church and the Jubilee. We will have a look at the word Jubillee and its origins as a celebration in the Bible (5th May), the Sovereignty of God in our lives  (13th May) and why the Queen is the head of the Church of England (20th May) and a thanksgiving for the Queen and Her service to the country (3rd June). Although some of these subjects sound a bit serious (and they are) you can be assured that the All Age Services will still be as much fun as usual so please coming along. 
During the week of Jubilee (2nd - 9th June) churches in the parish will be open at various times (please see notice boards and blog) to sign a book of thanks to Her Majesty for Her faithful service to Her people which  will then be sent Her Majesty. 
I hope you can join us for these celebrations.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Prayer and Society

Last month I wrote about how God had created us with free will so that we have a choice whether or not to believe in God. I also said we can invite God to interveen in our lives and culture through prayer.  The small minority of Secular Humanists are trying to obliterate prayer from from public life. Some of you will have recently heard about the council taken to court to prevent the council saying prayers before their meetings. If as atheists believe prayer goes nowhere then what is the harm? Just don’t join in the prayers. 
However, as humans as I believe we are hardwired to pray and at certain times this deep natural instinct comes to the surface. Such an example has happened recently when footballer Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for Bolton Wanderers against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. Medical staff resuscitated the player while Spurs’ Christian player Rafael Van der Vaart prayed on the pitch. 
The awful site of a young man apparently in prime physical condition collapsing in front of many thousands of fans and reported  on the news and the  internet brought the fragility of all our lives into sharp perspective. 
The flood gates of prayer within a nation were firmly opened by this tragedy, with many openly praying for Muamba, urged on by his family. Soon footballers starting wearing tea shirts saying “Pray for Muamba”.  Even Spain’s Real Madrid warmed up for a game wearing similar tops. Christian Owen Coyle, the Bolton Wanderers Manager said the prayer and support was ‘A real source of strength for the family’.
Fabrice has defied the odds and is improving. A Cardiologist and Spurs fan who was present said that “If I was ever going to use the term miraculous it could be used here”. Even the Sun news paper carried the headline “God is in Control”
Something happens when we all pray collectively together, crying out to God, somehow disparate communities become united in one voice, and yes we are praying for the recovery of Fabrice Muamba but we are also saying we are not on our own.
Many will have prayed possibly for the first or only second time in they life, some it will have been part of their daily prayer life. Most will be somewhere in between. Have you been touched by what has been going on, would you like to understand more about the God to whom we have all been praying? This month the Christian Church celebrates Easter. The most astonishing event in human history when God broke through the barriers of death and showed us the way to eternal life. 
His son Jesus died an agonisng death on the cross, but then God raised him to new life. Perhaps you may be wondering what this is all about or perhaps you know the Easter story very well. But the most amazing power of God works afresh in each ever celebration of Easter. This year we want everyone to “Experience Easter” so we have many events planned (see elsewhere in the magazine) which we hope will appeal to as many of you as possible. So please come along and Experience Easter for yourself.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Is there a God in Heaven?

I grew up being a big Elton John fan and I remember a song from one his less popular albums, “Blue Moves” , called “If there is a God in Heaven”. The chorus went

“If there is a God in Heaven
What's he waiting for
If He can't hear the children
Then he must see the war”

the sad events of this week with the stabbing of Casey Kearney in Doncaster and a vicar John Suddards,of Thornbury near Bristol, will have left many asking the same question, or probably more like “ what sort of a God allows a 13 year old girl to get stabbed and killed?”

Such questions are echoed in all families when a loved ones die. The venom behind the question often fuelled by the pain felt by the person asking the question. Whether it is an elderly parent dying from altziemers, a beloved partner ravaged by cancer, a friend killed suddenly by a hear attack, the question comes why? God why have you allowed this to happen? The pain is always more heartfelt when a child dies, and this is a child of any ages, the death of a child before a parent always causes such anguish and grief, it is the untimeliness of it all.

So what is God playing at? I have no easy answers just my own thoughts, I hope they may be helpful at this time.

The first place to start is that God does not force us to believe in God. We are allowed the choice, God gives the freedom of our minds to believe or not to believe. When you watch children at play they create such elaborate set ups with pieces of lego, plastic people, soft toys; but the toys do not have the choice they are controlled by by the children. God does not control us, God has a plan for us , but God does not control us like a remote control toy. God allows us to live our own lives, he would prefer that we seek out the plan there is for us, but we are not forced to follow the plan.

In this way human kind has developed it own culture in different parts of the world, sometime open to God' plan sometimes not open.

I am also a Star Trek fan and during the evolution of the series they developed a definition of a life form as “senescent being capable of knowing its own will”. In many science fiction films and series , the story line resolves about some technology that has become so clever it knows its own mind and exerts its own will. What ever robot has “become free thinking”, as soon as the humans have got it under control again, the danger passes because the robot no long can freely think.
So when bad things are happening if God intervenes, we become merely robots, in many ways we lose our humanity, our free thinking.

Now you may be saying, what then is the place of prayer? Well, yes through pray, God does intervene in our world but only by our asking, as an answer to prayer. We are free to pray or not to pray, but importantly we again have the choice, the free will to choose.

The second point is then God sheds tears with us. God will be weeping over every sad death this week, whether it makes national headlines or not, he feels our pain, shares our grief. God understands because he sent his Son Jesus down to earth to experience what our lives were like, to live among us, and more importantly show us how to live our lives.

The third point is that Jesus, God's own son died an agonising death on a cross, if God could have intervened without making us robots, then do not you think God would have. One of the most difficult situation a parent can face is the pain of a child that cannot be relieved. The parent wants is left helpless. Jesus even cries out on the cross “my God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

Of course God does not leave his Son dead but illustrates our future, by bring Jesus back from the dead, raised to a new life, which we too can experience after our death, cleverly not by making us slavish believers but again giving us the choice to believe in God but also what God did to his son Jesus.

I hope thee thoughts help all who are asking the questions of God at this point. He wants our believe, freely.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Advent Reflections with a difference: The story of a poorly Vicar!

On Sunday 4th December Jane and I were sat relaxing after tea, eating chocs when I started getting a mighty pain in my right year. Sleep was erratic but OK.

On Monday morning I was well enough to go exploring Retford with Jane, but a planned Shoe shopping expedition for me was cancelled (not my favourite job when I am in tip top condition and if you saw my feet you would know why!). I slept on the sofa and even went to a church meeting at Warmsworth in the evening.

I slept well and went to Amy’s school on Tuesday morning to see their production of Alladin. During the panto I got some discharge from my ear (all together now EGHHH). Jane arranged a docs appointment, he thought I had a boil in my ear, give me drops and antibiotics and I went home. Did some paper work, even took on the Tax returns. Then around 7pm I started feeling really unwell, got a shocking headache went to bed. Had a shocking night sleep.

I briefly got dressed on Wednesday but was soon back in bed. Jane called the GP in the afternoon when I  was screaming in pain and had a temperature. The GP arranged for me to go the Ear, Nose and Throat ward for them to assess me.

I was admitted and to be truthfully I don’t remember a great deal until Saturday when my pain was got under control. I was sick a lot! I was also very aware of the prayer that was going on for me and the family. I cannot put into words the spiritual comfort I received. Somehow I could feel the prayer. This also shows the power of the prayer chain as I believe people in New Zealand were praying for us.

The Doctors were fairly mystified as to what was going on with me but on Saturday some results came back which showed I had a blood infection (septicaemia) and I was started on antibiotics straight into my blood stream. This did at least start to get my temperature down from 39+ it had been running at.

On Monday I was taken down to clinic to see  the Consultant Mr Dugar, who with the aid of a very fancy ear microscope cleaned up my ear and without hesitation said I had “Bullous Myringitis”. He explained the details and the features on my ear drum with great care to the Senior Registrar who was with him as she had not seen it before. He said it was only the fourth time he had seen it in 10 years but is usually caused by a virus so the source of my blood infection was still unknown.

The next day Mr Duggar came bounding up to my bed looking very pleased with himself. He told me that he had done some further reading and found that “Bullous Myringitis” can be caused by a bacteria and he was now happy that this is the source of my blood infection. He also said the intense pain I had was because the blisters I had were on my ear drum and this causes a disproportionate level of pain. I should expect the pain to require painkillers for many weeks.

I continued on the antibiotics and was sent home on Saturday 17th December having spent 11 days in Hospital.

I am slowly recovering but must be careful not to do too much

I did manage to do some services over Christmas but a huge thanks to everyone who helped keep “everything” going at a very busy time of the year.

I very big thank you to all who offered support to Jane and the family.

My licensing service at Balby obviously had to be re-arranged and indeed this happened on Wednesday at Balby church. I meant to announce the new date at the Christmas service but only remembered on the Christmas morning service. Many thanks to those who were able to come along. Sorry to those who did not know about the service.

So I start as planned in Balby Parish on New years Day and I believe this is going to be an exciting year for both parishes.