So month number 2 in the process of ordination, and  life is busy as normal. School trips, parents evenings, beavers, rainbows, swimming, study, work, and play are all happening at once, as per normal, plus I’m being re-ordered through the “ordination” process. It’s fantastic and like being rebooted at the same time. I’m learning a new vocabulary of theology, meeting lots of new people, and my ability to remember simple things, or plan ahead seems to have vanished! St Luke’s in York my new church home is different and familiar, and unexpected and traditional, all at once. I’m simultaneously amazed by powerfully meeting with the Holy Spirit, and stunned by how long traditions have been maintained by people in prayerful service.

I’ve been reflecting on this and decided that God’s using different strands of my life and my experience in a new way. Isiah 43 v19 “See, I am doing a new thing!”

I’ve not seen these strands as particularly connected and he’s got some kind of overall wonderful pattern in which it’s being knitted. In January we are planning a new adventure for people with dementia, in church. I’m really excited about progressing this, as I think it will draw on my experience and connections in the statutory world and link this to my desire to share my faith. It’s quite daunting though, as normally I like to compartmentalise my life, so work is about one thing, church is about another. Now church is work, it’s all a bit odd!

I guess this is the best thing though too, because when you are in a state of “flow” as athletes and artists describe their best work, it’s generally when things are aligned and the normal barriers have been swept away. Psalm 139 always reminds me of how well God knows us, much better than we ever realise…

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.


New year in York

Due to unforseen circumstances, the weather in York, UK has been pretty dramatic. Our lovely flood meadows were no longer there, and a lake temporarily appeared instead. Several of the streets near our home were predicted to be flooded, however in reality this didn’t happen. The feeling of being on red alert was really odd, as in one way we knew it wouldn’t affect us, but in another we were drawn into the drama of it all and the fear of what would happen if the water did arrive in our street. We waited expectantly for the surge in water after the rainfall came down from the hills on the Monday after Christmas.

I know several charities and businesses locally have gone all out to help those affected, and many people will have lost everything. For us it was more of a phony war, although many people I know lost their phone/wifi and some of the supermarkets weren’t accepting cash, and ATMs weren’t working for a while. Unfortunately there were also some scams and looting which seems really unfair.

The big frustration was that the main part of the flooding was avoidable as the system became overloaded, the authorities had to make some difficult decisions, which could have been avoided if there was more national resource put into the back-up plans. However the feeling of being supported by a coordinated network of emergency services, and the number of public sector staff doing overtime over the Christmas bank holidays, was really amazing, and made us all feel proud to live in this country.

I guess for alot of us, major problems like this are not really that frequent and we’ve never lost our homes, or our possessions due to a war, or a bomb, and the older people I know who went through the floods in Selby in 2000, talked about it in the same way as a war- pre-flood and post-flood.

The main long-term impact will be in tourism, as York relies on visitors. The city is pretty much back to normal and welcoming people back.

It’s left me feeling that I’d like to be more involved in the front-line rather than donating money, or looking at plans and maps back at HQ, but I am aware of how comfortable a situation that is and how many people around me are relatively well off.

My new year’s resolution is therefore to get stuck in, and not worry about the consequences if there is something going on that I am in the right place, right time to personally help with. I guess if we all took the opportunities to make a real difference in a small way on a regular or even a random basis, and not just in a crisis, or via the internet, then the world would be a much better place.  A verse that came up today in church, from James 2:

“15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”