Monday, July 30, 2007

Running away

in search of a Lizard, a bath and a flushing loo...
Dogs, daughter and curate are Not At Home to callers (or anyone else for that matter) until bedtime on Thursday. I think it's time that the Dillon the Evil Jack Russell was taken to the seaside.
Cornwall, here we come!

Another dream

When I was trying to gather my thoughts for holy joes last week, this kept flitting around at the back of my mind, though I couldn't remember it properly and had no idea where to find it.
This morning, en route to something entirely different, I came across it. It really wouldn't have done for holy joes at all, thanks to that rather grating rhyme, but as a wish-list for the church it does contain some good thoughts. Apparently it's by William J Crockett...who would be welcome to come and dream in my church any day.

If this is not a place where tears are understood
Where can I go to cry?

If this is not a place where my spirit can take wing
Where can I go to fly?

If this is not a place where my questions can be asked
Where do I go to seek?

If this is not a place where my feelings can be heard
Where do I go to speak?

If this is not a place where you will accept me as I am
Where can I go to be?

If this is not a place where I can try to learn and grow
Where do I just be me?

I'm so glad that it speaks of questions asked, but doesn't mention answers...that it recognises that sometimes all we can manage is to "try" to grow.
I wonder what agenda people brought to worship in your church yesterday, how many came struggling with burdens they didn't dare articulate. As I watch good, loving people work tirelessly in the service of St M's, I wonder what their dream for the church might be.
I wonder if I would have the courage to ask, if I were the one holding the "cure of souls" here.
I'm fearful that my dream and theirs might look very different, and it seems to me that holding a vision for their church is part of the role of the ordained minister - but that vision must be owned and never imposed.
Lots to wonder about, really, as I prepare to find a place to call my own.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The phone rang

about half way through lunch.
"This is the staff nurse on X ward ... As the duty chaplain, I wondered if you could come over. We've a lady on the ward whose daughter has died suddenly, and the family would like your support as they break the news"

Suddenly inadequacy took on a whole new meaning.
So did fervent prayer as I drove to the hospital.
What words could I possibly bring to this situation that might make any difference at all?
I envisgaged myself standing there, a tongue-tied lump of well-meaning ineptitude, set to confirm all the worst clerical stereotypes.
Then I looked at my hands, and remembered the grace that had been prayed down on me at my priesting, felt again the cross marked on each palm in oil...and dared to hope.
I knew I was only involved because God had put me there. I dared to believe that God actually wanted me to be of service to these people in this awful situation, and that, therefore, it would somehow be alright.

As I got out of the lift, the family were waiting. Tearful but calm they told me their sister's story, and shared their fears that the shock of the news would harm their mother's already precarious health. We agreed that there was no good way to hear such tidings, that we were all to some extent out of our depths. They accepted my offer to pray before we went in, that the right words would come, that D would be given the strength to hear the news and the comfort of feeling God's love with her even as she mourned.

It's not often that I'm so aware of prayer being heard there and then.

D was clearly shaken to the core, but infinitely gracious in her care for her family and for me
"This must be so hard for you...I don't expect this was in your plans for Sunday"
She told me their family story - one of so much love, of welcome to many foster children beyond her own large brood, of struggle and of generosity in the face of hardship.
We talked about how love carries us through when things make no sense, when pain is almost insurmountable...about God standing beside us in the sadness...weeping with us.
We told Him how we were feeling, and asked for a lasting sense of his love to carry us through the weeks ahead.

I told them nothing they didn't know, but in their generosity they welcomed my presence, and told me my prayers helped.
I learned so much this afternoon.

When in doubt

the English traditionally talk about the weather...and feeling slightly short of blogging inspiration, I propose to do just that (yes, again). I do have a semi-official sanction, though, in the form of the FridayFive - which is fast becoming a habit, albeit never on Fridays.

Sally wrote Here in the UK we are struggling with floods, other parts of the world have similar problems without the infrastructure to cope with it, still others are badly affected by drought.... My son Jon is in Melbourne Australia where apparently it has been snowing ( yes it is winter but still!).... With crazy weather in mind I bring you this weeks Friday 5...
Have you experienced living through an extreme weather event- what was it and how did you cope?
Aside from the current floods, the most dramatic weather I remember was the winter of 1962/3 (I think) when snow fell from Boxing Day onwards, lingering till well into February. I was a toddler, and probably my very earliest memory is the excitement of going with my father, who carried a green plastic billy-can, to collect water from the nearest stand-pipe, as all the pipes to our houses were frozen. I also remember the constant stream of wild birds, robins in particular, that he would bring into the house almost frozen alive, and thaw out gently in the bathroom.
I think that this must also have been the winter when my mother was critically ill in hospital for months on end - and I can only guess what strain my father was under, but still those memories are of happy adventures, and not of grim struggle. He was good that way.

2. How important is it that we wake up to issues such as global warming?
It's completely essential. I get very angry at those who in the face of the current meteriological madness insist "It's just weather" Things are clearly very very wrong and while it may simply be a matter of inconvenience (unless you live in Sheffield, Hull or Tewkesbury - or other hard hit places) for most of us in the west, in countries where life is held on the thinnest of strings already, flood and drought spell utter ruin...and that is in the immediate term. As the polar ice cap melts and the balance of nature is changed forever, we cannot afford to pretend that this will go away. It won't. If in doubt, visit the Operation Noah site, where there is plenty to inspire sober contemplation.

3. The Christian message needs to include stewardship of the earths resources agree/ disagree?
How could one disagree? If the earth is the Lord’s and everything that is in it, then we are tenants, holding resources in trust and given the responsibility of maintaining them. We've behaved as if the whole place belonged to if the earth exists simply to serve our needs and greed...It's not comfortable to reflect on, but reflect we must, or we fail in our responsbility to both God and neighbour. The wonderful New Zealand Prayer Book has, as always, resources that encourage you to pause.What about this?

God of unchangeable power
when you fashioned the world
the morning stars sang together
and the host of heaven shouted for joy.
Open our eyes to the wonders of creation
and teach us to use all things for good,
to the honour of your glorious name

And because it is summer- on a brighter note....

4. What is your favourite season and why?
Oh help. I really don't know. I love those early May days when the air is suddenly warm and you realise (in a normal year) that we're on the brink of summer...but I love golden autumn afternoons as well...and crisp frosty mornings when leaves and grass and spiders webs are turned to glistening filigree

5. Describe your perfect vacation weather....
Mid 70s, sun, a gentle breeze off the sea towards evening, gin and tonic and stuffed olives...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Also in London

  • Time drinking wine with friends

  • Time to limp along the Thames path (note to's worth taking the extra time to change out of holey tights - nylon burns create truly wonderful blisters). Another time take a bike.

Both Hugger Steward and I were enthralled, and have come home fired with ideas for filling a room sized perspex cube with dry ice as an alt worship installation. Being inside this (the eponymous Blind Light) was a most extraordinary experience. No landmarks. Nothing to orientate around. Even your hands look unfamiliar as they stretch out in search of a wall, that turns out to be only inches away. Strangers brush up against you, then vanish again.
Damp underfoot, or it really would be the perfect "no distractions" prayer space that we ENFPs have been looking for all our lives.

Gormley's work is all about space - as defined in terms of the human body
"Within the exhibition, space is defined and articulated by crowds and solitary figures, concrete, steel, cast iron or lead; representational or abstract; real or imagined; and voides where bodies could be. In encoutering these presences and absences, we are asked not to be passive onlookers, but to become part of the work as we walk through or round it...."
Encountering presence or absence. Hmnn. Told you it felt like prayer.

I loved Hatch - a maze like installation featuring metal rods, protruding from walls and floor...Again, being inside was strangely disorientating while to look in from the outside was to experiment with a series of kaleidoscopes.
"Installations provide a resonating chamber in which the life of the viewer can in some way reflect upon itself. And so for me the viewer is absolutely essential, the third element. You have the work, the space and the viewer"

Outside on the roof tops for a mile around, familiar Gormley figures stood sentinel...Event Horizon. Sinister, or benevolent? I'm not sure - but definitely memorable, specially if you've been watching Dr Who.

I love the way that Gormley's work so often has this extra public dimension.
He invites those who'd not naturally think of visiting a gallery to enter a relationship with his figures...You never just look at his work. It involves you, whatever your expectations. It even follows you home!

Lessons from holy joes

Tuesday night was a classic example of what happens when you listen to fears more than to friends…Ever since agreeing to speak to holy joe’s, several months ago, I’d been building it up my mind, till it towered huge and black my diary…a gathering of dozens of cool people steeped in cynicism over all things churchy, who would with incisive wit and withering scorn demolish whatever I cared to put before them.
Never mind the fact that I knew at least 3 members of the group to be personally charming, kind hearted and not bent on the destruction of humanity...the rest of them would, I was certain, be deeply, deeply scary.
Except of course that they weren’t.
Cool, yes. Scary, no.

I maybe should have known when we went down the stairs to the wonderful space where they currently meet. The chapel is simply crying to be used for alt worship, and indeed
the whole format was infinitely less alarming than the holy joes at Greenbelt scenario which had fuelled my fears…but by the time I realised this, it was rather too late for me to jettison my nervously prepared material and just talk.
So, poor loves, they experienced the curate taking a headlong dash through material that was far more formal than it needed to be – and emerging on the other side, white and shaking, but wondering what all the fuss had been about, and wishing I could do it again properly.
However, one huge good came out of this part of the evening in that Michael, marooned in London thanks to those infamous floods, nobly trekked across town to be there, - thus enabling me to introduce him to Steve, as I’d hoped to for a good while now.
I think their conversation, and those which happened generally around the table afterwards probably justified the damp squib (or should that be squid- habitually damp, after all?) that was my talk…And I’m very glad to have discovered that, as so often, I’d managed to make anightmare mountain out of a benevolent…(not molehill, no steve, definitely not a molehill) but a much more benign landscape than I’d imagined.
Sorry M. Sorry C. I really should have believed you!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

And so it goes on...

after a lovely escape to London, which I'll blog later, we returned home last night to the alien sight of small groups of people gathered in the street as dusk fell - collected together around the water bowsers, the new parish pumps. Suddenly, Charlton Kings had one small thing in common with the communities I visited in India where the trips to the local standpipe are an essential prelude to any domestic activity, morning and evening. Even in the cities where there is notional mains water for each home, it is not actually available at all hours - so this routine of filling vessels to use later which we are adopting with bad grace is very much part of life.

Generally, it seems that people are being rather wonderful. When I phoned round some of the congregation whom I thought might be struggling, they all had reports of kind neighbours and helpful policemen. Elsewhere, things have been less happy, with looting of flooded properties in Tewkesbury and Gloucester (apparently within 12 hours of the floods, homes were being burgled to enable the 21st century crime of identity theft) and bored youths leaving bowsers with their taps turned on, while precious water drains away.
It seems, depressingly, that there are some who have no concept of the needs of others, even when they are clear and obvious.

I was also struck , when preparing intercessions for the Eucharist, by the fact that the modern collections of liturgy - New Patterns of Worship, Common Worship Times and Seasons et al - make little provision for a community disaster. While the Book of Common Prayer offered resources for times of war, flood and pestilence, there seems to be no contemporary equivalent. Is this a sign that we're so sure of ourselves and our security that it doesn't even occurr to liturgists that we might sometimes need resources for darker days?On Monday evening we used the Litany. I think I'll do some trawling before tomorrow morning's service, as I'm sure the resources exist,- they just aren't part of the "bread and butter" books of today. I know this is an exceptional circumstance (I certainly hope it is, anyway) but even so. We're so well cushioned by material wealth and comfort that no-one expects to be confronted with nature out of control. I suspect this is in the throes of changing. Who knows, we might even recover some sense of our need of God as we recognise our essential vulnerability.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Quick update

Since you've all been so kind and concerned.
The GoodinParts household is fine...No flooding at the curatage at all (though our neighbours opposite had their second watery invasion in 3 weeks, poor loves) and as far as I can determine, none of our congregation have been hugely affected, though gardens have been under several feet of water. Mains water is likely to be off for at least a week, as the main pumping station that serves both Cheltenham and Gloucester is itself flooded, but electricity is back on in those places that had been without. There are various bowswers around the neighbourhood, and I'll get on the phone in a while to check that elderly congregation are OK for water, - having boys on holiday means I do have reliable water carriers to hand. In fact, as water is fine at the Clockmaker's workshop, 20 miles away, as a family we're only mildly inconvenienced, so I'm feeling rather guilty that we are so well off...
Friends in Gloucester and Tewkesbury have very different situations to cope with, - there is apparently foul water in Tewkesbury Abbey, and the whole town has been cut off for the past few days. My poor SiL and her family bought a mill house last you can imagine what they are dealing with. Please don't stop praying...the support is wonderful.
But for the moment, despite my guilt, there doesn't seem to be much I can practically do to help those harder hit. Getting in the way of the emergency services isn't really to be recommended, so, assuming the coaches are still running, I'm off to London with Hugger Steward later to-day for that Big Scary Talk thingy. If I'm not eaten alive, I'll tell you all about the Big City when I get home..

Monday, July 23, 2007

Own up, then. Who killed the albatross?

Life here is taking on more than a tinge of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. You remember

"Water, water everywhere
And all the boards did shrink.
Water, water everywhere
Nor any drop to drink."

Following the excitements of Fridays deluge, Gloucestershire is still struggling...and as the local pumping station has itself been flooded, water supplies in Gloucester and Cheltenham are running out. So, the surrounding countryside looks like this

but bowsers are being set up at stategic points, as there's nothing coming out of the taps. Did I use the word "surreal" already?

FabBishop has written a prayer, which I think bears posting. There's neither water nor electricity at Church House, so he's also sent all clergy and licensed lay workers his private phone number...further proof, in my opinion, that he merits his blog name. Here's the prayer

Creator God, hear our prayer.
As we look with dismay on the floods across our county,
we ask you to look with compassion on all who are suffering
on those whose homes are spoilt, whose livelihood is threatened.
We thank you for acts of courage and of kindness
and pray a blessing on all who rescue and relieve.
And, when the floods have gone, guide us to learn lessons.
Help us to live in harmony with the laws of nature
and in reverence for a creation you have made so very good.
Creator God, hear our prayer.

What We Feel Is Not Who We Are

was the challenging heading of this morning's Henri Nouwen meditation.

Whenever I do Myers Briggs, my F score is way off the scale, so though I know perfectly well that there are all sorts of objective realities beyond my feelings, I really struggle to believe that. Prayer time is "successful" in proportion to whether or not I feel that I've been close to God...relationships rest heavily on whether someone understands (or is able to imagine) my feelings and there is all sorts of stuff that I know intellectually, but tend to discard because, unless head knowledge is supported by - yes, that's the one, feelings -then I simply can't trust it.
Of course, I've trained myself to behave as if I'm convinced by the head stuff but it won't ever be the place where I'm most at home, most sure of myself. Unless there's integrity of thought and feeling, the thought really doesn't mean that much to me. It's the feelings that make things real.

So I probably need to post this, not just on the blog, but on the wall over my desk, in my stall in St M's, in the car, beside my bed...pretty much everywhere. It won't make that much difference, but it will remind me that the way I experience the world isn't necessarily the way the world is.

Our emotional lives move up and down constantly. Sometimes we experience great mood: swings from excitement to depression, from joy to sorrow, from inner harmony to inner chaos. A little event, a word from someone, a disappointment in work, many things can trigger such mood swings. Mostly we have little control over these changes. It seems that they happen
to us rather than being created by us.

Thus it is important to know that our emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life. Our spiritual life is the life of the Spirit of God within us. As we feel our emotions shift we must connect our spirits with the Spirit of God and remind ourselves that what we feel is not who we are. We are and remain, whatever our moods, God's beloved children.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

If I start looking behind me...

and begin retracing my track, I'll remind you to remind me, We said we wouldn't look back"

Thus sang Jane in Salad Days, - the summer musical par excellence, which always takes me straight back to Cambridge, and damp performances in Sidney Fellows Garden. With another child now having finished school, looking back is probably best avoided - it's truly disturbing how fast the time goes. On the other hand, this week's Friday Five was an invitation to look both forward and back with a purpose, and having finished tomorrow's sermon (and fighting shy of Big Scary Talk for Tuesday) I do need to do something else for a minute or two. we go

1. Share a moment/ time of real encouragement in your journey of faith
I blogged this at the time, so anyone reading me then will have to forgive the repetition, as its one of the best encouragements ever.
In January last year, we'd been having a few alarms and excursions over the re-ordering of St David's Chapel, leaving me feeling that I'd managed to alienate and hurt people without even realising...WonderfulVicar had one complaint that to receive the Sacrament in the re-ordered chapel had left the parishioner feeling "unfed" for the first time in all his long life. I'd carried those words round as a heavy burden that week, and went up to say Morning Prayer in the controversial chapel with not much hope of leaving the heaviness with God. When I got there, I found a young man whom I didn't recognise sitting in the dim chapel.
He said "I often come in here to pray. I hope you don't mind..." "
Then he told me his story. Brought up anti-church he'd had an amazing direct experience of God, unsolicited and unexpected, which had changed everything for him. He brimmed over with the joy of it all,- it was quite hard not to cry listening to him celebrating all that God was doing in him,- quite without any inteference from the church! M. recognised that community wwould be important later and had tried various churches looking for somewhere to make his home. He'd been to our local mega-church a few times and valued their life and enthusiasm but needed quiet too, and had enjoyed very different styles of worship in other places. He clearly understood that God is so much bigger than our attempts to constrain him, and had found Him in all of the worship he'd experienced. He had never, he said, left a church feeling empty.Wonderful words to counter the weight of my "unfed" parishioner.
I'd mentioned that I'd arrived to say Morning Prayer, and M was keen to join me,- but by this time I was thinking "How do I subject all of this shining reality to the multi-coloured ribbon complexities of CW Morning Prayer? What if it's the thing that stifles all that wonderful life and growth?"
I explained the rough idea of the Office (he was really tickled by the idea that I have to pray as part of my job) and offered him the option of either doing it by the book or just talking to God together. He said that he was always talking to God (somehow, this came as no surprise at all) and would love to see how formal prayer felt. So we prayed the Office together, and it was quite wonderful! Reading those phrases I heard them through his ears, as if for the first time, and they shone with truth and beauty
"In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us..."
And, of course, the burden of tradition that had weighed me down was lifted in the process as we celebrated God's reality together in a life-giving blend of polished phrases and intense personal communication.
I've not seen him since, - so for me he remains an unexpected angel, someone sent to remind me that God is alive and active here and now. I've loved that chapel ever since.
More recently, I was hugely encouraged at the end of the Spiritual Direction course by very positive comments from the course leaders. We ended our time together with an extended Eucharist, and at the Peace the whole group was invited to share with each other anything we’d particularly valued about travelling together. People are both kind and affirming, and that’s something else to treasure.

2. Do you have a current vision / dream for your work/ family/ministry?
Rather a hot issue now I’m into my 4th year of curacy, and teeter on the edge of trying to make dreams a reality. Ideally, I’d like to serve in this diocese (FabBishop and beloved friends close by) in a slightly run-down parish, somewhere that isn’t too sure of itself, with a church that is struggling to hold things together. I suspect that it’s only when the church confronts its insufficiency that it can become really open to God (scary stuff…but no good saying it if Im not prepared to at least try and live it)
Becoming part of a community that is serious about mutual dependency, and excited about exploring together, looking for God in unexpected places and joining God’s activity there. Back to my favourite postcard, in fact…

3.Money is no object and so you will.....Offer to take on a “house for duty” post in that sort of parish, perhaps (since the diocese is determinedly amalgamating parishes left, right and centre to save stipendiary posts) ?
But my real “Money is no object” dream is one I shared not long ago, as part of another “Five"
I have a strong sense that my ministry should be about making safe space for hurting people, so the dream involves using a rambling Victorian vicarage (with lots of real fire places) as a sanctuary for pretty much anyone who needs one. Of course, this would be part of the life of that community that was "serious about mutual dependency and excited about looking for God"...Is this a dream or a prayer? I'm not sure.

4.. How do you see your way through the disappointments? What keeps you going?
People I love, believing in me and telling me so.
Revisiting in my journal times of encouragement, times when God has felt real and close.
Meeting God in the Eucharist, and knowing that healing only comes through brokenness.
Music - Bach covers most things.

5. How important are your roots?
Define roots. When I lost my parents at the age of 18, that pretty much ended my sense of belonging to a family…no aunts or cousins about the place though I’ve always been good at acquiring (and pretty good at keeping) honorary relatives. But I’m very aware of where I come from, in terms of childhood and of education, if not of place.
In faith terms, I guess my roots matter hugely. When I agreed to marry LongsufferingClockmaker, a cradle RC, it seemed only logical that I should convert. He was part of a large and determinedly Catholic family, while I was on my own, and already at the Catholic end of the Anglican spectrum. Minimal theological revision necessary, - but the reality of finding myself part of a rather disengaged RC parish, in contrast to the all-embracing activity of my previous church was a very different matter…and as for the liturgy and the music. I soon realised that there is more to church membership than theology and returned home with relief only 4 years later. So yes, I guess roots are important.

6.What would you like to add?
As someone whose life, like my home, is never in the order I'd like it to be, I'm aware of the danger of always waiting till things are "right" ....which, of course, is a recipe for never committing fully to anything. Looking ahead is exciting, and looking back can be encouraging, but here and now is where I'm called to be. Here and now is where I should expect to find God.

Festival "in a Field"

Had been inscribed in our diaries for months, - and what it represented had indeed been part of our family consciousness for years. You see, the music department at my children's school always ends the summer term with a week's residential course, culminating in the Leavers' Concert -and as all 3 GoodinParts offspring play and sing almost as naturally as breathing, by about y9 first Hattie Gandhi and then Hugger Steward had begun to think about the day when they would be the leavers...
2 years ago, HG sang Gershwin's "Summertime" - imagine the irony had that been part of this year's programme -but now, it was HS's turn.
The journey to Burford was definitely interesting. Heavy flooding to negotiate by the Dowdeswell reservoir, and a disturbing number of abandoned vehicles all along the A40 (including a couple of Discoveries, and a Mercedes estate, both of which I'd assumed to be pretty well unstoppable). As we drove into the fast-moving, muddy waters I did seriously question my common-sense, - but how often does your child leave school? I had to get there.

You'll have guessed by now that the "in a field" part of the equation had been washed away in the floods, officially "the worst for 40 years", cutting off several villages. I suppose if you have to be rained off, there's something to be said for high drama attached. As we approached school, we could see the mini festival stage, which had so delighted the boys, standing folornly at the far side of a bleakly drenched playing field. But the music department, working in conjunction with the parents' association, was nothing if not resourceful. HS had spent all afternoon running around fixing the sound system. The pig roast was still running under cover, and pimms and strawberries tried to persuade us that this really was the balmy summer evening of our plans. OK so the RAF Falcons and the Grand Firework Finale both went the way of all flesh, but nonetheless, the festival format seemed to work, with people coming and going all evening, dipping in and out of a programme that included everything and more: primary school gamelan group the insistent beat of the RockSchool,a quick return visit to Les Miserables, massed choirs, jazz band, symphony orchestra - and of course, the Y13 solos.
County flute choir and alot of intense work before his Grade VIII mean that HS is really rather good now, and Gluck's "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" was the sort of archive moment a mum needs as her children leave school. Yes I did cry, but only for a minute or two, I promise.
I wonder if the Dufflepud has planned his programme yet.3 years to go. It must have stopped raining by then.


That's the best adjective for yesterday.
It looked so innocent when I contemplated my diary in the morning

1.30 Funeral
5.00 Festival in a Field

OK, so the odd alarm bell might have rung at those last 3 words, since the weather forecast wasn’t too promising but still…only 2 items there in black and white. Easy.

Except that the rain began mid morning and didn’t stop.
At 12.50 I opened the front door and instantly rejected my normal bike ride to church in favour of the car. Emerging from Privet Drive, I found Church Street in chaos, with water covering the road at the lowest point and traffic backed right up past the primary school. No option but to stay with the car, though, so I negotiated the waters carefully and eventually reached church having taken 25 minutes to do a 3 minute journey.
This was partly because the cars for the funeral were stopping any and everywhere:
St M’s sits on a sort of island surrounded by a 1 way system, so it doesn’t take much to clog things up, and believe me they were well and truly clogged. Nor was it better inside the church , where every pew was long since filled and people were being shoe-horned into the choir stalls, the chapel, anywhere really…Meanwhile, there was confusion over the CD the family had provided ; they’d burned the tracks they wanted, but not so that any CD player could actually read them. Brief and casual conversation with the organist, who told me what he planned as a substitute, presuming we couldn’t get the CD sorted in time. We couldn’t. Definitely. It was beginning to be almost impossible to move in the church. Transepts jammed. Crowds around the doors. Though it was still pouring, WonderfulVicar and I decided, it being 1.30, that we’d make a dash round the outside of the building to meet the mourners and the coffin at the west door. Only as we stepped out, I heard the organist begin the music he’d mentioned to me. I dashed back to the other door, and seeing the congregation had risen, we dropped the umbrellas and entered with as much dignity as we could, negotiating the crowd in order to meet the coffin at the chancel steps.Clearly the bearers had seen a gap in the crowds and just gone for it. Who could blame them?

The service itself, for a much loved resident of the village, was amazing. T’s brother gave a tribute that was an extraordinary expression of love, pride and much humour…a real celebration of a life that clearly meant alot to the crowds there. When he finished his eulogy he invited the congregation to give 3 cheers. We did, and in the silence that followed, T’s beloved dog gave one single, sharp bark.After that, there seemed very little for WonderfulVicar and I to do…He preached the Gospel, I lead the prayers and we all stood as we commended T to God’s care. Then we made our way down the aisle, past the guard of honour and out into the downpour -only to realise that nobody could actually reach the magic button, to alert the bell ringers to the fact that the service was over and their celebration ringing should begin. Praying they’d left the door at the foot of the tower unlocked, I pelted round the outside of the church, and did indeed find it open, so that I could call up to them. Moments later the bells rang out, and I made my way back to the vestry – my surplice clinging to me in soggy folds.
It took a good while for the congregation to find their way out of church, - and by the time I got into the car it was well gone 3.00 and the water levels were still rising. Again, there was no option but to keep going, but I was praying fervently that Hattie Gandhi had abandoned her plan to drive over in the baby car to visit a friend…Fire engines were outside my neighbour’s house, pumping; they’d been hit in the last lot of flooding – and now this. Their presence, adding to the end of school collection traffic made for another interesting drive…half an hour door to door this time.
HG was safe at home, but we couldn’t stay there. Remember that second entry in the diary??
to be continued

Friday, July 20, 2007


Thursday morning, if it's not Little Fishes, means the monthly Eucharist at one of the numerous rest homes in the parish. I always find these a little frustrating, as there seems to be little expectation from either church or home that it would be good to develop a relationship with these communities. I hate hit and run ministry, but the way things are arranged (far more with the timetable at the home than with my own diary) it seems that I have very little option. Nonetheless, I've made a few connections, at least enough to recognise new or missing faces and we totter through the service together in reasonable unity, even though individuals tend to revert to whatever form of words is most familiar to them, regardless of those on the large-print cards. Since we've several denominations represented, this can lead to confusion at times, but the Word is listened to and bread and wine are shared so on the whole things feel OK.Yesterday, we even achieved unanymity on our choice of hymn tune!

But despite all that, I found yesterday really quite difficult. When I came into the sitting-room, there were the usual communicants gathered, one or two in different chairs, one now missing forever (but surely sharing with us in the celebration) - and in the corner a lady who has consistently made a point of not being part of the group. Last month, this meant that she left with great dignity and determination as I lit the candles. No problem.

But yesterday she elected to remain, though firmly shielded from any connection with the worship by her magazine. In case I should be under any illusion, one of my regulars told me very firmly
"She's not one of us, you know".
OK. She may not be one of the church group, - but she's definitely one of God's family, even if she doesn't like the connection. So throughout the service she's there, present if not connected. But who knows whether or not she's paying more attention to the words on her page, or the words that surround her in the room?
I'm glad that I've decided to stick with last Sunday's lectionary and speak briefly on the Good Samaritan, using the Tony Campolo story I included in my sermon. Maybe there's a bridge there.
But when it comes to the Communion, I'm stumped.
She is sitting right next to one of the communicants, and it feels so wrong to offer bread and wine to E while ignoring her...but equally, she could not have made her disconnection more evident and short of knocking on her magazine, like a door to door salesman, and saying "Excuse me. Would you like to receive the Body and Blood of your Saviour?" there seems very little I can do.
So I make my round of the group, feeling desperately awkward and uncomfortable.
"What would Jesus do?" I really have no idea,- though I guess there's more than a possibility that his presence would be significantly more attractive than our rather fumbling worship...But "Behold, I stand at the door and knock" - not charge at the door with a battering ram, so I think I had no option really.
After the blessing, I try to engage her in conversation, but it's a one-way street leading nowhere, offering no salve to my feelings as I leave. It's not often that I meet such an apparently deliberate statement of rejection.
Apathy, yes.
Polite indifference, often.
But rarely determined "here I sit" rejection.
I wish I knew what was going on inside her...simple determination not to be moved out of her favourite seat, or a longing despite herself to be connected? God knows, clearly,-so all I can do is pray that my clumsiness will not have hindered the work of the Spirit in her.
I'll be away next month, so WonderfulVicar will lead that service. Perhaps things will be different, or perhaps she'll sit on, as resolute as the dwarves in the stable.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Learning my limitations..

It having been Sunday allll day, it's no surprise that I've been on the busy side.
I don't want this to read as a "pity poor martyred me" post -I've just been interested to watch myself through these last 2 weeks. What surprised me today was just how tired I was by 4.00 this afternoon, when I'd normally reckon to keep going without any trouble till at least part way through Koinonia, a good 5 hours later.
However, the differences today were that after presiding at 8.00, I preached and presided at 10.00 (it's normally one or t'other) and conducted a wedding at 1.30, before a couple of needful and quite intense hospital visits.

I think it was probably the wedding that was the decisive factor - they are quite high stress anyway, and I didn't know the couple particularly well, as they'd been hard to pin down for preparation, living and working away from the parish (though the bride's parental home is here). Everything went fine, but it just is harder work to make everyone feel special when you don't have a relationship with those involved.

Anyway, by the time I got home from the hospital it was pretty obvious that I'd be wasting my time finding a book to curl up the dogs and I had a lovely sleep on the sofa, waking up to the sight of delightful Jonny Depp in Capt Jack Sparrow mode, which made me feel substantially better instantly. As a result (whether of Depp or the sleep) Evensong was fine, and I could have happily managed Koinonia if we'd not ended the term for both youth groups last night...but the learning point for the future is, I think, to resist Sunday weddings if at all possible. I know that couples are struggling to get their chosen reception venue sorted, and I know too that it matters hugely for the church to be welcoming and accomodating - but Sunday is quite demanding of most people involved in worship, so a little reticence in booking weddings then seems not unreasonable. What do you think?

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Not only did it not rain for the Youth Groups' end of term bbq, but we even had quite a good time...and the sunset was breath-taking. Nobody who reads this blog more than once could be in any doubt as to how important the youth groups are to me, how much I gain from working with them and how much joy they bring. Some of them are getting alarmingly adult now...but not above being thoroughly silly when the need arises (and even winning points for silliness- the victors are below).Have a great summer, all of you.

Mischief Managed! (or thereabouts)

Goodness...this being-left-in-charge business certainly seems to help me get things done. It's not even supper time yet, and I've just posted the sermon for tomorrow here.
I wonder how I can keep that sense of urgency going once WonderfulVicar returns home. It's really envigorating!
Now it's Youth Group BBq (and it's not actually raining) and then I'm done and dusted.

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good

Given the choice of getting on with a sermon on the Good Samaritan (oh dear...why is it so hard to preach familiar texts?) or indulging in a little happy silliness of the Harry Potter variety, how could I resist?
I don't join in with the Friday Five very often, partly at least because my Fridays seem to be a tad frantic...but the idea of a regular game to enjoy before the madness of a clerical weekend is a delight. And the fact that some of my RevGalBlogPals are willing to find time to be creative and entertaining week after week, devising them, is just one of the reasons why I'm so fond of the group. Random acts of sensless kindness don't have to come with a high purpose attached to be hugely appreciated.

So, just for fun (and with but miminal apologies to those who hoped I might be in reflective vein) here comes the Hogwarts Express
Accio Friday Five!

1. Which Harry Potter book is your favorite and why?
Ooh...tricky, that. The sheer pleasure of discovering The Philosopher's Stone, and the laughing out loud that accompanied our family read-in make me really fond of that...The only one I struggled to read was The Order of the Phoenix - in fact, I gave up for a long while, and only finished it when the next volume (which I loved) was in the offing. Do you know, I've not yet sorted out my order for The Deathly Hallows? Perhaps I'd better do something about that, or I'll feel a little left out in the next few weeks!

2. Which character do you most resemble? Which character would you most like to get to know?
Well, there's a distinct element of Mrs Weasley, of course...but yes, I think I'm really Hermione, bright, over-achiever, always terrified of not being good enough. In the interests of serious procrastination, I've just done a test that claims I'm Dumbledore, with Hermione coming in a very close second. "In my dreams", say I,-but I'd love to meet him. Can't choose one person to get to know, though. I want to spend time with all of them (seems like a re-read is in order). Hermione and I could be good friends, I'm sure.

3. How careful are you about spoilers?
a) bring 'em on--even if I know the destination, the journey's still good
b) eh, I'd rather not know what happens, but I'm not going to commit Avada Kedavra if someone makes a slip
c) I will sequester myself in a geodesic dome to avoid finding anything out
Oh, b, pretty much...though if something truly awful is going to happen, I guess I'd rather know...but generally, I'd prefer to find out as I go along.

4. Make one prediction/share one hope about book 7.
There will be some reconciliation of Harry with Voldemort as his shadow, by which both are somehow removed from the wizarding world - or have I done too much Jung this year?
I don't want Harry to die...but I think it would be even worse to lose a Weasley (poor Mrs W, how could she bear it?)...I'm rather sold on the happy ever after approach, honestly, though I don't think I've a hope of getting it.

5. Rowling has said she's not planning any prequels or sequels, but are there characters or storylines (past or future) that you would like to see pursued?
I'm happy to stop here I think, provided the ending satisfies. It's been fun, but probably not worthy of all the hype. And with my offspring scattered during the summer holidays these days, I don't need nice fat fiction for all the family as we once did. The books have grown up with my children, and while volumes 1-3 were essential corporate family reads, accompanying us on our holidays, latterly it has been every Fleming for him/herself and not enough copies to go round - so time to call it a day.

It seems a bit unlikely, but....

You scored as Albus Dumbledore, Strong and powerful you admirably defend your world and your charges against those who would seek to harm them. However sometimes you can fail to do what you must because you care too much to cause suffering.

Albus Dumbledore


Hermione Granger


Remus Lupin


Ron Weasley


Harry Potter


Ginny Weasley


Draco Malfoy


Sirius Black


Severus Snape


Lord Voldemort


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

Seperated Brethren?

In the wake of the latest papal pronouncement there have been many words written about the church of Rome and how she connects with the rest of us. (As an aside, it does seem sad that one whose very title as "pontiff" establishes him as a bridge- person, uniting the disparate, seems currently intent on making his bridge a lifted draw-bridge, separating the chosen from the rest- but that's by the way...) I’ve neither the inclination nor the qualifications to say much about it in terms of ecclesiology (using the word is the closest I propose to get) but reading a post by Kate started me off on my own trail of memories…

From the age of 7, I was one of a handful of Anglicans in an RC Convent school, kept very aware of my second-class faith status. Like all the other girls, I was slightly afraid of the older nuns, who had strange names (Sister St Edmund, Sister Dominic) and wore traditional habits. Clearly they had no hair, but did they even have legs…or did they actually move on casters? I was seriously curious.
On the other hand, I adored the younger sisters, - specially Sister Stephanie, who was always laughing, and who shared my passion for animals. Her charges included Billy the Convent Cat (whose markings echoed the nuns’ habits, right down to a wimple under his chin), Jason the dog, an ever increasing family of guinea pigs (whose offspring were popular purchases at the annual Mission Sale) and any number of damaged birds. Together with my friends, I’d ask special permission to visit the higgledy-piggledy encampment of hutches and hen-runs behind the hedge near Our Lady’s grotto, certain that to be a nun would be the passport to a limitless family of pets and sisters (both equally attractive to an only child). I think, too, I was attracted by the genuine joy that seemed to surround Sister Stephanie. When she sang and played her guitar in chapel, her whole being was there in the music, and I recognised that she was focussed on something wonderful beyond my imaginings.

But, though I was fascinated by statues and holy pictures, and carried around my rosary like all my RC friends, looking on wistfully as they made their First Communions in full bridal splendour, I wasn’t really ripe for conversion. Aunty A, the Belfast Catholic who lived next door to us would tease my mother by referring to us as “Separated brethren” but I knew that, like Sister Theresa my form teacher and Sister St Francis who taught me French, she prayed regularly that we might recognise our errors and join the True Church.
Even then, I found that vaguely disturbing.
Of course, I didn’t want to go to hell….and there were enough stories of souls in torment to give me a very clear picture of what that might entail….but I liked my own church, where the incense and vestments were far more awe-inspiring than the guitars and Kum-bay-ah of the Convent chapel. If I’d been 10 years older, and grown up before Vatican 2, I might have seen things differently, but the reformed liturgy of the late 60s just didn’t hit the spot for me. I needed full liturgical drama, Mozart and mystery.

But one thing I’ve never forgotten from those First Friday Masses, squashed uncomfortably into the lower school pews, to the south of the altar.
“The Mass is ended. Go in peace” the priest would direct us, before departing himself, an imposing figure flanked by servers.
But the nuns sang on, so for a few minutes at least we went nowhere. Instead I would watch, week after week, as the vestry door opened and Father X, stripped of his gorgeous vestments, and now a pedestrian figure in clerical black, came quietly back into the chapel to kneel in a back pew.
Nobody ever told me what was happening, but I somehow knew that he was thanking God for the miracle he had just been a part of, and praying for grace and strength before he left that place…

At the end of the Eucharist now, I say a quick prayer with choristers and servers, and then head straight to the west door for the weekly ritual of handshakes, hugs and greetings which seems integral to maintaining our community. As an extrovert I love that, of course, but I know I miss out on something. The danger of plunging immediately into relationships at the porch is that I might just be seduced into thinking it’s all about me, and the wonder of the Eucharist is too easily overlaid by the joys and concerns I encounter straight afterwards. Of course, they too are part of the worship...but so is the pause, the recognition that something amazing has happened, the time aside to say thank you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rest in the Lord

Sunday, as you might expect in a busy parish with the vicar away, was pretty full on once again - so I was glad that I'd programmed a "holiday" into the evening, in the form of some worship stations for the youth group's last proper session this year.
The preceeding days had left no time for preparation, so we went for a fairly minimalist approach in terms of number and complexity of stations, but even so preparations were pretty intense, and I needed all the help and goodwill of my splendid older children to be ready in time...but when everything was installed, it was a good and peaceful place to be.
Our theme was holiday/holy day.
Drawing on the lectionary, which featured both the sending out of the 72 and the sending out of the 12, the 1st station invited reflection on what/who we would choose to take with us as we set out for time aside with God...and what we might long to leave behind. (There were pages with a suitcase printed on them to write your list)

Remembering that when we slow down we have more hope of noticing those good and beautiful things we tend to take for granted, the next station involved folding a prayer of thanks inside a paper flower and floating it in a bowl of water...contrary to everyone's expectations (except mine...I always trust any suggestions from either Jenny or Jonny Baker!) these floated and the buds opened, offering the prayer to God

Since the one thing we inevitably take away with us is ourselves, there was the opportunity to write or draw in sand something that we sought God's help in changing....we could then smooth over the sand before moving on, - representing forgiveness and a new start

On holiday, we usually need to know where we are going...though the journey can be as important as the there was a pencil labyrinth to follow, with an invitation to take it slowly, imagine an ideal landscape to travel through remembering that safe arrival is a given with a labyrinth

At the centre of the room was sanctuary a tent (thanks, Maggi - the whole thing grew from this)...offering shelter, space to reflect (HS looped some material from "Tune in Chill Out" and we projected it so that you could read if inside the tent, while relaxing on bean bags) and refreshment in the form of fair trade chocolate. In my determination to show that God was nothing if not generous, I overdid the suplies for the first couple of groups, so they got the feeling that it really might be inexhaustible and proceeded to eat their fill and beyond...A bit of crisis management was needed (thank you, Hattie Gandhi)....but as supplies appeared more limited, so greed was tempered with consideration, and while 3 large bars fed 8 people, the remaining 2 fed 12 with left overs to encourage the clear up process.
Life in the tent was a bit wobbly (no pop-up tents left in Argos, so we used a standard pegged model, with assorted weights holding it up) but it was nonetheless a lovely place to be, and though it almost collapsed several times, there was always someone around ready to rebuild it and make it as beautiful as before.

Responses from the youth group were pretty positive, getting more thoughtful and prayerful as the evening wore on...and it was certainly what I needed at the end of a long day.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Stop Press

We did it.
There is now a dahlia named Florence Li Tim Oi.
Dotty I know, but I'm really really pleased about this.
It just feels as if the world in general (or the Sunday listeners in particular) are glad to celebrate women's ministry...and that is a good thing to contemplate when you come in exhausted on a Sunday night.
Thanks, those who voted!
It's not often I rejoice in the results of a "first past the post" election.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Finished early

with 2 whole hours of Saturday to go, here is my sermon for tomorrow evening, with the usual grateful thanks to Dylan. The reason for this unprecedented state of completion is that I'm presiding at both 8.00 and 10.00, and need to do a visit and sort out some alt worship for the Youth Group tomorrow afternoon.
Still, both HS and HG are back from their assorted travels, so I'm rather pleased with life this evening.
Hope all's well where you are.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Of family feuds and heavenly meetings.

When I was about 11, I had a school friend called Debbie. For a year or so we were pretty inseperable and trekked to each other's houses for tea most Friday evenings. I found her home very exciting because she not only had a mother who worked in a real job, instead of "just" being a housewife like my mum and all her friends, but also the tea time menu there regularly included that miracle of sophistication, arctic roll!

We were quite an intense pair, I suspect, and we used to take huge pleasure in finding strange little gifts for each other if either of us went on an outing,-which is why I will never forget Debbie, though I've not seen or heard of her for a good 30 years. You see, she came back from the Easter holidays with a bookmark for me,- on one side a photo of a bowl of roses and on the other some words of St Thomas More

"Pray for me, as I will for thee, that we may merrily meet in heaven".

I've no idea why she chose it. Neither of us was particularly pious, and it would be a couple of years before Robert Bolt's "A Man for all Seasons" would plant Thomas More firmly on my intellectual map, but I loved those words. The thought that heaven might not just be a place peopled by simpering angels and saints casting down their golden crowns around a glassy sea was wildly liberating.

Goodness!Heaven might be somewhere where one could laugh, be oneself and be happy to see friends!
That was it. I was caught, hook, line and sinker.

I not only prayed for Debbie (sometimes, when I remember, I still do) but for the man behind the words...that rare breed, a statesman of absolute integrity. I was appalled when I discovered, during Reformation History classes, that I wasn't strictly "allowed" to claim him - he belonged to that band of English Catholic martyrs who represented, in school-girl terms, the Opposition. Regaining him was one of the bonuses of a brief conversion to Rome in my 20s (though it was startling to discover at that point that I then had to jettison those other admired icons of English martyrdom, Latimer and Ridley). I wallowed briefly, if characteristically, in misplaced guilt that the nasty Protestants, my ancestors, had been responsible for the deaths of More and Fisher and the Forty Martyrs to boot, and the thought of merry meetings receded rather.
Not many years later, though, I reverted to the faith of my childhood anddiscovered that in the interim the ASB calendar had come into force, so I could keep Thomas More after all!

That sense of family members lost and refound gave me a tiny insight into how it might have felt to live through those turbulent times. I'm so glad that we are now encouraged to celebrate the heroic faith of all those men and women, whom I pray I will indeed merrily meet in heaven.
Meanwhile, today More and Fisher are remembered by the Anglican Communion and I used this prayer at the Eucharist this morning (narrowly avoiding crossing my fingers as I prayed the final sentence, which is seriously demanding)

O Lord,
give us a mind that is humble, quiet, peaceable, patient and charitable, and a taste of your Holy Spirit in all our thoughts, words, and deeds.
O Lord, give us a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, a love of you.
Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation
and all dullness in prayer.
Give us fervor and delight in thinking of you, your grace, and your tender compassion toward us.
Give us,
good Lord, the grace to work for the things we pray for.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

How can I keep from singing?

Hot on the heels of Saturday’s priestly ordinations come the First Masses…The church is flooded with a tide of grace as the new priests preside at the Eucharist for the first time, and as always it was a huge joy to be present at 2 celebrations this week.Even the fact that they were “back to back” on Tuesday evening, involving a frantic drive across Gloucester City, cursing every red light (of which there were several), did not diminish the pleasure.

2 very different celebrations – the first in the Cathedral, for Michael…whose journey over the past year has been full of wonderful surprises (if a friendly onlooker is entitled to reflect like that). It’s so hard to remember that he only arrived in the diocese 12 months ago. The missional community he is developing was just a vision then, and M had little experience in the finer points of Anglican liturgy. Now the community is a reality, with too many members to be comfortable in M’s living room, and his presidency on Monday was just right . Even though his friends knew that the Cathedral, with all the splendour of a choral Mass and coped clergy was not his natural metier, that he would have preferred a simple celebration with friends around a table, he bore the needful authority with grace while not intruding himself on the process in any way. Very impressive!

His final hymn, Be thou my Vision, was just being sung as the Processional when we hurried up the path to St Katharine’s, Matson…which produced a rather strange “time warp” effect for a moment or two.
A’s First Mass was absolutely a celebration of her ministry in that community. I love that church and its people .It’s beautiful, small (stating the obvious in comparison with the Cathedral!) and unpretentious. It’s also the parish of my much-loved friend the Canon…and her people have a gift for welcoming strangers and making them at home.
A has spent 2 years living in the parish (her husband is one year her senior in ministry, so they arrived when he was made Deacon in 2005 and of course she has spent her own diaconal year ministering there) where she loves and is much loved.That love so shone through on Tuesday as she presided over a packed church with gentle dignity.
Just lovely!

When the headlines inspire gloom over the Anglican Communion…when the minutae of parish life threaten to divert us from our fundamental calling….when we trip over our own failings and insist on picking up the same sins which we’ve just managed to deposit at the foot of the cross…celebrations like this are a real gift to the Church. Thanks be to God!

Monday, July 02, 2007

"It’s coming down again!"

was the ironic comment my father habitually made when rain lashed the windows of my childhood home…and it has become a family saying in his honour (I always wondered if he might in fact have once seen it rain up…such was the gloomy surprise in his voice). In the last week there’s been lots of it “coming down” in the UK…some deaths, and huge damaage and inconvenience…

But over the weekend this was put firmly into perspetive for me.
Some readers may remember that when I was in India last winter, I travelled with the clergy from my host diocese of Karnataka Central to a clergy conference attended by 3 dioceses of the Church of South India. There I was befriended by Dharma Das, a CSI priest working in a desperately poor area of Andhra Pradesh . I was humbled when he told me that he generally receives no stipend and is dependent on his congregation (and his wife’s salary as a teacher) to meet the family’s needs. When the harvest fails, as it does too often, he goes hungry alongside his people. His diocese, Nandyal, was a mission field for Anglo-Catholic missionaries in the nineteenth century, who had left a legacy of sacramental theology and a love of ritual (always very close to the Indian heart) which meant that my descriptions of life at St M’s were music to his ears. While we were at Kanyakumari one of his daughters celebrated her 6th birthday, and Dharma was determined that as an English Aunty (the term adopted by all well brought up Indian children – a bit disconcerting at first) I should be the first to speak to her when he telephoned to wish her well on the big day. Quite what the poor child made of an unknown woman blathering away in an unknown language I’ll never know..but for Dharma this sealed our connection. Alone of all the clergy I met and made friends with, Dharma has been a regular emailer since I got home. He is such an enthusiast….(indeed, he on occasions signs himself “your excited brother in Christ") - reading his emails brings him instantly to mind, thin, energetic, passionate about his faith, his church, and the wonder of 2 people from such different contexts meeting and becoming friends at the southern tip of India. Just remembering makes me smile.

hello, sister kathyrin, greetings in the name of our lord and saviour jesus chrise. i learned menty things about anglican church in england. regulerly iam praying about st marys church. i red the church in is 800years old church. it is right? recently i started one out reach ministry about SLUMS. we reach the people and pray the needy and also preach the gospel. please pray for me. convey wishes to russel st marys chuch and your family bye sister yours ANNA DHARMADAS
(Anna is "brother" in Telegu)

At Easter he wrote to tell me of a new mission church his struggling congregation had planted in a slum area of Kornool…. His excitement rippled off the page….
Dear loving sister in christ, greetings ,
we celebreted EASTER service very meaningfully,



But I heard from him again on Saturday – in very diffrerent vein. There has been extensive and a mini tsunami in his area of Andhra Pradesh. His people’s homes have been swept away. The mission church is under water. The people are “hopeless mentally and physically”, their homes and the staples of their lives lost together with many of their families.
As so often, Dharma ended his email PRAY PRAY PRAY

Please join me, if you would. I’m trying to find a way to get money to him for his congregation…over 100 families are now without shelter and I’m fearful for my friend too. The body of Christ feels very real – but tonight it’s a body in pain .