Sunday, 3 May 2020

A Second Reflection by Terry Rees

The Tug of the Next Moment

I had tucked my binoculars safely inside my coat and determinedly quickened my pace when I realized that darkness was rapidly approaching. I had been out on the nature reserve for over three hours and still had some way to go before reaching the car park and the welcome flask of coffee that I had sensibly prepared and stored in the car. It had been a cold and overcast November afternoon and I began to regret the decision to take the longest circular route. It  can never be a good experience to be caught out in the middle of field and marsh in complete darkness!  Concentrating on the rough, gloomy terrain, I was no longer observant of anything but the path lying immediately before me.

          As I rapidly made my way I became vaguely aware of the dark shape of a largish bird perched to one side of the path - almost certainly something very common. I hurried on, but after a distance my inner voice began to nag me into the suggestion that this gloomy sighting perhaps should not be so casually dismissed. Something did seem unusual. I paused, retrieved my binoculars, and retraced my steps some thirty yards. Surprisingly, I was able to get close to the patiently waiting bird, and was rewarded with my very first, and to date my only, sighting of a Waxwing.  It remained in a conveniently cooperative pose and I was able to delight in the strong colouring that was still able to penetrate the gloom, together with the extravagant crest that had most likely provided the subconscious hint that this might be something worth going back for. In the end I left before it did.

          Over the years, this serendipitous event has assumed the status of a real-life parable that has helped shape my perception of spiritual formation. I had every reason not to pause, certainly not to turn back, but I had unintentionally glimpsed something that teased my mind, alerted my inquisitiveness , thereby leaving me with a choice - either to press on, or pause in my earnest intent. I was so glad I listened to my inner voice, even though the reason for my haste was legitimate. Sometimes, just the slightest glimpse of something different, providing we respond with a redirection of focus and intent, can lead us into a deeply satisfying experience. The regret of not responding, or not being able to respond, has been beautifully put by the poet R. S. Thomas :

                             I have seen the sun break through
                                    to illuminate a small field
                                    for a while, and gone my way
                                    and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
                                    of great price, the one field that had
                                     the treasure in it. I realize now
                                    that I must give all that I have
                                    to possess it. Life is not hurrying
                                    on to a receding future, nor hankering after
                                    an imagined past. It is the turning
                                    aside like Moses to the miracle
                                    of the lit bush, to a brightness
                                    that seemed as transitory as your youth
                                    once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

          I owe the title of this reflection to my reading, some thirteen years ago, of a short book by Simon Small, entitled “From the Bottom of the Pond”. It is a book about experiencing God in the present moment. We are all subject to the seduction of the “tug of the next moment”. There is a well-known mantra in management circles ; ‘If you want something done urgently, give it to the person who is too busy.’ The paradox arises because some persons have the skills and energy, and the inclination, to rapidly respond to the ‘tug of the next moment’. Sadly, they can be exploited. They may not complete things fully and perfectly, but they seem to be  inwardly programmed to move hurriedly on to the next stimulus, the next thing. It is not a general model of operating that I would encourage, certainly in the spiritual realm. ( When I used to tutor management courses this particular issue led to fruitful discussion about the creative tension between a manager’s task of achieving, and the pastoral care of staff.) Of course, we cannot totally escape the demands of the next moment – organized activity demands it – but it is a question of balance. Jesus most certainly experienced the tug-of -the-next moment. Crowds flocked to him for ministry, even when it would have been inconvenient and potentially damaging for him personally, and the disciples must have been very demanding of him at times, as followers universally are. Yes, Jesus did respond to sudden new demands – he could not escape the tug-of-the-next-moment - his ministry was defined by it. But, the evidence of Scripture is that he also made time to pause, to be solitary, to reflect, to pray, to get things in a divine perspective. He also protected Mary’s choice when he cautioned Martha that her sister’s particular moment of withdrawal was important and legitimate.  Pausing, even turning back, can take us away from the seductive pull of the next task. In so doing we can be better equipped for the future.   

          When I set out on this reflection my intent was not to make any reference to the COV-19 virus crisis. But it became obvious that it did relate. We have all had our normal functioning curtailed though social distancing and isolation. To a considerable extent the tug-of-the-next-moment has been neutered.  We can actually engineer the ‘next moment’ to a greater extent than we might ever have imagined possible. In a sense we have a degree of ‘retreat’ forced upon us. Despite the deep concern for ourselves, our loved ones, our friends, those who continue to work in dangerous environments, those who nurse, those who care for the elderly, those who sell and those who deliver, many of us have an opportunity that we might not experience again. We have been gifted , as Thomas says in his poem, an opportunity of:-

                                    “turning aside like Moses, to the miracle
                                    of the lit bush, to a brightness
                                    that seemed as transitory as your youth
                                    once, but is the eternity that awaits you.          
It is perhaps a time to reflect into our present, take a glance back to treasure the spiritual path that God has graced us with, and to look forward to new insights and new experiences.
                        “ For all that has been, Thanks. For all that shall be, Yes.”
                        (Dag Hammarskjold UN General Secretary in late 1950s)
May the Holy Spirit shape us like a precious stone in these strange times. May we return to fellowship as a thankful, inspired and energized people.


Thursday, 16 April 2020

David Sims

Love and greetings to you all from David Sims.I have been at All Saints since I was 12 years old, which is quite a long time really! Before that, I was a Crusader at a house in Chestfield. From school in Canterbury, I went to a Billy Graham afternoon in London with our teacher. I didn't "go forward" but I felt God's call to greater commitment. I studied languages and worked as a Translator in London. Made redundant twice. I then became a Pastoral Visitor from All Saints, seeing mostly elderly folk in Care Homes and in their own homes. I am now elderly, thought I had retired, and found that I hadnt ! 
I am one of the team of Pastoral Assistants.

David writes as follows:

On Easter Sunday, we enjoyed an amazing family lunch. Amazing to Carol and me anyway; Rebecca and Paul have to keep apart because he is a policeman and she is asthmatic, so Paul is living, working 
and sleeping in their cabin, which is comfortably appointed, but at the bottom of the garden. So for lunch,they rigged up a system whereby Rebecca and the boys were in the kitchen on their I Pad, Paul was in the cabin on his, and Carol and I were at home on our I Pad , all eating Sunday lunch and chatting to one another as though we were all together. It might not seem incredible to you, but it did to us, and it was such fun as well! Rebecca is a teacher and is teaching the boys at home, so they won't fall behind in their studies.

Every day at midday, I link into Midday Prayers on the screen from Rev Dr Gillian Straine, who is the Director of The Guild of Health and St Raphael, of which I have been a member since the 1960's and recently retired as a Trustee. The Guild is all about Christian Healing as is offered at All Saints every Thursday and on a few Sundays through the year. Gillian is providing this space for prayer, readings and reflections every week day while the virus is with us. You might find it helpful to link in every midday at . She recently said, regarding our faith that "Christ is risen (indeed) ",
that this does not mean that we can say "good, everything is going to be ok now" but that we proclaim this belief as a challenge to what is happening at the moment. If you like, and this is me speaking now, " do your worst; Christ HAS  risen, Christ IS risen" and we proclaim this as ( if you like) our battle cry.

From the Church Times: " We are learning to stand still. It has taken a microscopic virus, pathetic and invisible as it laughs in our faces, to halt our crazy scurrying. The bottom-line hope of Easter, the victory of life at the end of this long Lent, will consist of joyful hugs and affection and a craving for fellowship at the end of a long fast. Then we will say, as St Francis did, "Blessed are you , O Lord, for Brother Coronavirus, who has taught us to be humble once again and to value life and fellowship".

Take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16 v.33) 

I would like to end by quoting a prayer which the Archbishops created for the Brexit situation but which absolutely fits in with where we are now: " O God of reconciling hope, as you guided your people in the past, so guide us through the turmoil of this present time and bring us to that place of flourishing where our unity can be restored, the common good served and all shall be made well.
In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen." 

Christos anesti! Khristos voskresye! Christus ist erstanden! Christ IS risen! Yes, He is!! Go forth,
and believe the Gospel. 


Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Margaret Arnold

Margaret Arnold is a churchwarden at All Saints and has served in this capacity for the last four years having previously served as churchwarden under a previous vicar. She is the main organiser of the flower team at All Saints and has written and produced a number of Pantomimes at All Saints. Margaret chairs the Finance Committee at All Saints and previously worked for the Diocese Office on the Stewardship Team.

Margaret writes as follows:


The tomb was empty,
Stone walls stood silent.

For a moment that place was filled with the scent of angels.
For a moment that place was filled with the holiness of Christ.

For a moment in time that tomb held the body of Christ.

That moment in time has been remembered for centuries.
That moment in time will be remembered today and for centuries to come.
The stone walls will always tell their story.

Our church today is empty,
Its stone walls stand silent.

But God is in our church sending his light through our stained glass windows.
Light that throws patterns of Christ’s life onto the floor.
Light that throws beams of brillance onto the empty chairs.

The silent stone walls and pillars of our church will tell our story,
For they are soaked in our prayer, in our music in our faith.

The church is empty but the walls hold our moments in time.

We hold these moments too,
For in this time, our worship, praise and prayer is in a different place.
It will be so, until we return.


Friday, 10 April 2020

Rev Keith McNicol

Keith was Curate at All Saints’ and in the Team from 1992 to 1995.  In 1992 he and Kirsty, his wife moved over to the Church of England from the United Reformed Church in which Keith had been a minister for some twenty years.  They have two sons who were confirmed in Whitstable.  One is now married to the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister working in Idaho.  Both men live and work in London.  Keith misses his yacht in which the family had many interesting adventures.  He has been retired from full-time ministry for nearly six years but enjoys conducting services in and around Whitstable and Canterbury.  He likes listening to good music and keeping up with friends.
Keith writes:

Words are not enough

I have enjoyed seeing and reading the many Christian statements of hope during lockdown.  Basically, these words say, God is in charge and this corona virus pandemic will come to an end.  Some of the statements are very personal.  All are protests of determination against an unseen enemy.  The virus will be defeated. It will not last forever.

So, I cut the grass, go for a walk or a cycle ride once each day, read and write on my laptop.  I pray.  I read some Old Testament history because I am fascinated by it.  I look at the excellent and dedicated work of our local clergy and Readers in reading morning and evening prayer and preparing video/online services for us.  Personally, I worked to get my head around the technology so that I could deliver a short set of prayers to the Sea Cadets on the Isle of Sheppey to whom I am Chaplain.  I succeeded!

Now here’s the thing.  Words are pretty good.  They help express my deepest thoughts, my greatest fears, my fondest hopes.  I heard a brilliant bit of radio the other morning in which a lady spoke, fluently and uninterrupted, for a good few minutes, telling the radio presenter of her experience of her husband being taken into an Intensive Care Unit.  It was most moving and we all wish that family well.  Her words were descriptive, touching, compelling.  We had to listen to her.  She didn’t hesitate once with an “err” or a clearing of the throat.

But I suspect that lady would agree that even her words were not enough to fully express everything that was in her mind even though she was profound in the expression of her love for her man and her worry for him. 

We have read and heard some wonderful words from our clergy, and yet even their words are not enough.  Somehow there is more to be said. 

Some of our deepest thoughts simply cannot be expressed in words.  Symbols point to truths beyond yet within us, truths about the human condition and truths about the divine, the more than human, to whom we reach out hoping to touch but never quite doing so.  We have our hopes and strengths and aims for life.  Do you know, it came as an enormous surprise to me to be told that I should self-isolate because I am over the age of 70?  And I am doing what I am told!  I was a good boy at school – most of the time.  But my age is not what defines me.  

There is more to me than an age, a physical condition, a mental condition, an identity.  I am within and part of something far greater than I can imagine.

Words are never enough to say what is in one’s mind.  So, you and I live by wonderful stories expressed in words, symbols and other ways.  Indeed, we are living in the story.

Our privilege and duty is to be the people who keep the story of Jesus alive.  We pray, we read scripture.  Some of us study theology.  You and I are the privileged and responsible ones.  We are to live the story, no matter what happens to us, whether we live or die.  Our story is a story that tells us that there is more to life than life.  It is a story that points to a truth about the origin of all things that is founded by the great source of love we call God.  It is a story we tell to others too, not because we expect people to accept what we say as truth, but to encourage and strengthen everyone we know as we go through life.  I find that many of my friends want me to tell the story even though they don’t want to become part of the story.

And even now, words are never enough to be exact and final in our definition of this Love, this God. 
Words, even music and other arts are not enough to celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord.  They are not enough to express our experience the power of God’s Spirit.  Some say he comes to us from time to time.  I say we are surrounded by the Spirit, that we live in the Spirit. 

I am sure the Good Lord knows our predicament.  For Christians, the Word of God is Jesus Our Lord.  Even our best words are not enough to say who Jesus is.  Yet it is our faith that, in this time of trouble, even in this time when people are dying, surely when people have recovered from the virus, Jesus the Word is enough for us to trust in and in whom to place our hopes and fears.

He knows, you see.  He knows because of the cross.  The Resurrection is his tremendous gift of hope to us.  He knows.  He loves us.  He is with us even though we walk through deep shadows or have to cope with wonderful shining light.  He knows.  He is the Word.  He most definitely is Enough.

Keith McNicol
Good Friday 2020

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Dr Martin Garsed


Let Us Shine The Light of Words on It

I am writing as a former GP, Psychotherapist and Hospice Physician. A member of the prayer and healing ministry team in the All Saints Anglican Church community in Whitstable.

“Let us shine the light of words” on where we are now and what we feel and think in these unprecedented times. We are all very different individuals, as are our particular situations.
But the mixture and complexity of our emotions, thoughts  and imagination are common to us all and are part of who we are. The same yet unique.

In my work over years, what was always important, was to enable those I was with to “shine the light of words” on their situation be it in health, sickness or other adversity, the many challenges that life threw at them.

If we give free reign to to our emotions, exacerbated in times of trial, they can run a mock and take charge, disempowering us, at times to such a degree, that we can no longer function and loose touch with reality.
It is important and a great help if we can voice how we feel , what we imagine or fear, to others in sharing or in writing them down for our selves. This is a good start to taking back control and feeling more secure even if not resolving the dilemma we are in. It helps to tame the loose demons !

A further reality is that many of these emotions and thoughts are in a way “paradoxical”. There is an opposite more positive dimension before us that we have lost sight of. Our task is to bring them together into a joint clearer light (In our sharing with others or writing) to find a more balanced view thus enabling us to move forward.

Here are a number of these paradoxical situations that face us in these challenging times and how we might address them

·        ISOLATION: This is the most dehumanising situation, particularly if on our own Try and recall all the small gestures of belonging that you have received from friends and loved ones over time. Think of your wider family and neighbours. Make efforts to be in touch using the telephone or technology not forgetting old fashion letter writing or sending cards to loved ones near of far away. 
·        TRAPPED SHUT IN: We are free and able to travel in our minds imagining the future or recalling the past, walks holidays etc. Write a memory book for the younger generations.
·        THE SILENCE: Can cause anxiety yet the noise that surrounded us in normal time is equally unnerving. Relish the quiet in your mind and heart, make your own quiet noise. Rest in that quietness.
·        EVERYTHING TAKEN AWAY: I have lost all my normality. Move to taking note of all the small things we do have. Acknowledge and express gratitude for them.


As Christians, members of other faiths, and people of good will, we can add a further dimension to our present experience and its questions.

·        ALL MY LIFE IS ON HOLD: We feel the bottom of our life has fallen out. But we also know and trust that GOD HOLDS us in his hand every day come what may. We can shift our prayer to a more “Contemplative” dimension learning to rest in the “now”, being in God's presence. Try this twice a day for 5 to 10 minutes. Use a holy word, picture, a cross, a candle (blow it out at the end !) to fall back on when distracted, it helps hold your attention.
·        SEPARATED FROM OUR SACRED SPACES AND WORSHIP: Yet each one of us are a “one unique sacred space made in the image of God”. All creation in and around us is also a universal sacred space.  Nothing separates us from the Holy within and around us from the creative love of God (Romans 8 vs 38.39)
·        FEAR: Yet we are called to live in Hope and Trust in our ever loving creator and his sacrifice for our eternal salvation. What more important a time, Holy Week, is it to recall and accompany our Saviour Jesus Christ during these days. He weeps over us, he washes our feet, he was flogged and hung on the cross and died for each one of us.
·        JESUS COMES THROUGH OUR LOCKED DOORS: As when the disciples were in isolation, full of fear locked up in the upper room, Jesus came through those closed doors (John 11 vs 35) Have no doubt, He will come through the closed doors of our homes and hearts in these uncertain times.

I pray for and commend you, and all those suffering at this time due to Covid 19 and the many women, children and men world wide, who are subject to many other sufferings.

Grace and peace be with you in this Holy Week and beyond.
This is my prayer in Jesus's name.

Dr. Martin Garsed.
Whitstable                                                                                     07.04.2020

Monday, 6 April 2020

Janet Livermore


Janet writes
I was born and raised in Greenwich in South East London, but lived in Florida from 1996 to 2012 after I married Dan, who is an American. We moved to Whitstable in 2013 and joined All Saints shortly afterwards. 

I love the friendly atmosphere of the church. I have recently completed a 3-year term on the church's DCC and I am a Pastoral Assistant.

I attended Leeds University and am a retired Chartered Accountant. I am the proud mother of two children – they both live in California. Lois works in the theatre department of California State University, Fullerton. She specialises in lighting. Barry is an attorney living in the San Francisco area.
Like many people my age I sometimes complain about modern technology, but I am thankful for it as it enables me to keep in close contact with them, especially during these uncertain times.

Janet's reflection is as follows:

During these challenging and uncertain times it is easy to feel negative. I am trying to set aside some time every day to count my blessings and look at the positives.
The signs of Spring are all around us - the blossom on the trees, and the tulips and daffodils - in the streets and gardens. We do not need to visit parks to see them.
A friend suggested we write down one thing a day that we want to do when all the restrictions are lifted. It will give us something to look forward to and help us maybe to realise what we have been taking for granted.
I think the wisest words I have heard are: “I'm safe at home, not stuck at home”.
Looking out of my window now I can see sunshine, birds feeding and bright, colourful flowers.
Easter is approaching with its triumphant message. This leads me to reflect on the words of the hymn Thine Be The Glory:
"No more we doubt thee, Glorious Prince of Life;
Life is nought without thee: Aid us in our strife."

I know we are all missing seeing our family and friends, but as Her Majesty The Queen said in her address to the nation – echoing the words of the war-time song:
We'll meet again!

Janet Livermore

Friday, 3 April 2020

Denise Blaskett- Reader at All Saints

Denise writes:
I am Denise Blaskett, one of the readers in the Whitstable Team Ministry, mainly based at All Saints, but I am more than happy to serve elsewhere and have popped up at the odd evensong at St Alphege Whitstable.

I have been a member of All saints since 2011 and before that I was involved in lay ministry in Saint James Church Enfield Highway from 1988.

My full time job, is a Social worker, working as an independent reviewing officer with Children in Care . I monitor and support a caseload of 65 children in a variety of care settings and make sure their allocated workers and carers are doing as they should, for them to reach their full potential.

I am also the proud mother of Adam, a trainee paramedic and ambulance technician for the London Ambulance Service .

Last but by no means least, Partner to Howard .

When I was asked to write this it was the early days of lockdown and I struggled to find the words .

For me, my underlying and ever present emotion was fear . Fear for my Son who works for London ambulance, he was training as a paramedic with just one module to finish before qualification, we now do not know when, if, that will now take place .

 Fear as he is facing increasing poorly people all with symptoms of COVID 19 , I worry that he will also succumb, I worry about this viral load they talk about and if I am going to see him alive again. Lots of NHS workers are dying, they do not have underlying conditions. Their work puts them in the firing line sacrificing themselves for others .

Fear for Howard who is shielding due to underlying medical issues . Will I inadvertently bring the virus home to him as I continue to shop for essentials  . What will that mean for him .

Fear for my Job , My Church, my Community which have changed drastically over the last three weeks .

Fear for my friends who used to keep me sane . My friends are my therapy.

I was paralysing myself with fear .

Gradually, as I became involved with services and community and joining in online with daily office , that familiarity of being with God encompassed me . I was worried about not being in a building I love, surrounded by people I love and feeling that love of God . What God has taught me in this time is that love can be felt wherever you are . That community can still take place , it just needs a little more effort . As I joined in with the familiar,  it made me want to explore what God had to say about fear .

I put this into a search engine online and over 100 bible references were found .
God and the bible had a lot to say, so I started going through them and picked out a few that specifically resounded with me .

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

Being caught up in our own thoughts and fears and worries of the day , I know I have and I have not remembered that wherever we are , whatever we are doing if we invite God in he is there with us .
The passage above made me think of the famous footprints and I got a clear image of God carrying me . Close your eyes and visualise this for yourself , breathe deeply and slowly . Ask God to be with you

. It has helped me to resume calm after panic .
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27

This passage also has resounded with me if your head is full of all those worries , concerns , social media , news etc it’s all background and constant noise . Your senses are on high alert, you are ready for battle and like me,  you may be struggling to switch off at night and sleep . You are in flight or fight mode . This passage reminded me to reach out for God’s peace , to not trouble over things we cannot control . To not be afraid .

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
Isaiah 41:13

This passage again is a reminder that we are not alone in this . We may be in different houses , different countries, but we are in this together along with our merciful God . He is working in each situation providing guidance , rest , hope, he works through our hands and the hands of others . He is our right hand and hand in hand we will get through this .

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:34

A lot of my friends and family have started to live this way . Living for today as today has its own cares . A reminder to deal with this situation in bite sizes . Don’t think about tomorrow but just muster the resources to get you through today . Even if you take it in ten minutes, half hour , an hour , as much as you can at one time without overloading yourself .

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelation 2:10

We know that we are going to suffer , we have been warned that loved ones will die . We know that for some this self isolation will be suffering . Our finances will suffer , our relationships will suffer . We may think that COVID 19 is an agent of the devil . We may see that this time of isolation is a test for us . A test of our resilience. A test of our love for humanity. A test of our love for our world, each other.

What this gives me though is a feeling of hope . This time is temporary and we must hold on , we must believe that we will come through it . Some of us may even come through unscathed . Some of us may be enjoying this isolation as maybe it brings them peace , has put the brakes on a bit , a time to reflect .

I have been struck by many on social media encouraging us to take this time to take stock of our lives and to reflect on the things that truly matter . To only take back the things that mean a lot to us and to get rid of forever the things that do not bring fulfilment or Joy .

I know that I want to take this time and reach out to my son everyday , like I used to, but life got in the way and a day turned into a week . We are reconnecting we are showing each other we are important to each other . We are sharing the pain of separation. Our relationship will definitely be stronger .

 But this isn’t the only change . I am also becoming more reliant on my faith , my faith is deepening, my relationship with God is also healing and this healing will and can be accessed by all and I am being charged to try to be that bridge , to help those who feel hopeless find the one who brings light in the darkness . The one who is with us , carrying us as we survive day by day .

Day by day
Day by day
Oh, Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day

Canon David Springthorpe

Before retirement David spent all of his 39 years in ministry in Rochester Diocese, mainly in the London Boroughs of Bromley and Bexley but also in North-West Kent. He is proud to be a Kentish Man but now enjoys retirement with the Men and Maids of Kent down this end of the County. David writes:

Twenty years ago this year I went on a pilgrimage. Purists, perhaps, might say that mine was not a true pilgrimage as it didn’t end at a traditional pilgrimage centre. Yet during that 190 mile walk across England, from St. Bee’s Head to Robin Hood’s Bay, I learned many of the features of pilgrimage that men and women have experienced over many centuries.

Pilgrimage is not easy. My heavily blistered feet became testimony to this. It can involve danger. Walking in torrential rain was one thing but walking in gale force winds when alongside the path there is a sheer drop of several hundred feet is another. However if these suggest a temptation to give up, the thought of the goal ahead and the resulting sense of achievement, forcefully act as a spur to continue.

Alongside the difficulties though there are many positives. Hospitality from those who provided accommodation and refreshment. A totally new view of the landscape we passed through, so different from when you rush through in a car. Best of all was meeting the many people I walked with, usually for just a couple of hours. These were people from all over the world, there to walk the Coast to Coast Walk. Each had a story, each had something to share, each offered friendship or encouragement or a couple of sweets, if only for an hour or so until we separated and then journeyed onwards meeting and walking with others.
Pilgrimage has a long history within many faiths and Christians almost certainly gained the practice from the Jewish faith. For the Jews, Jerusalem, the Holy City, was the goal. Those who lived around Galilee only had a three or four day journey to make even though some of it was uphill. But it was important and a key time for this journey was to celebrate the Passover, the greatest event in their Jewish calendar and history. Their journey involved sharing in various forms, not least in sharing their faith and especially the God given help in rescuing the nation from slavery in Egypt and the guidance to the Promised Land.

Much of St. Luke’s gospel reflects on this annual Passover journey as Jesus and his disciples travel from Caesarea Philippi to Jerusalem. On the journey they not only share with each other but also with those they meet on the way, people such as Zacchaeus, the ten lepers and others. It also becomes clear that this is no ordinary Passover pilgrimage for Jesus tries to prepare his friends for Calvary. The events of our Holy Week and Easter begin to loom closer. Once in Jerusalem Jesus is greeted at first with celebration by the huge crowds, many of whom have travelled to be there for the Passover, their faith expectation fulfilled. None were aware of the dramatic events to follow.

For us Holy Week and Easter can be  times of personal and collective discovery and celebration. This year, because of the Coronavirus, this time will be very different with the usual having to be put to one side. Some may cry, ‘It won’t be the same’ and that is true. But this could be a positive for we still have the ability to make a spiritual journey, a spiritual pilgrimage if you like. The slow and careful reading through of the Holy Week narratives towards the end of any of our four gospels can create a way of meeting and sharing with others, gaining from those experiences that others have had. It is often the difficulties of a journey that make the greatest and most lasting impression.

Finally a prayer from St. Columba:
Alone with none but thee, my God,                                                                               
I journey on my way.                                                                                                 What need I fear, when thou art near                                                                         
O king of night and day?                                                                                          
More safe am I within thy hand                                                                              
Than if a host did around me stand.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Jayne Edinboro - Reader at All Saints Whitstable

Jayne Edinboro is one of our two Readers at All Saints Whitstable

Jayne has spent all her working life in the legal profession and ran her own business for many years, juggling a home, husband, children and work, as well as church life. A keen singer Jayne has sung in church choirs since a school girl. It was from here that Jayne came to lay ministry, training as a Reader and subsequently being admitted to the Ministry in the Rochester Diocese in 2002 and the Ministry of Evangelist in 2004. A volunteer chaplain at several hospitals in both the acute sector and mental health sector for many years Jayne is now settling down to life in Whitstable.

Jayne writes as follows:

As I sit at my desk looking out on our garden on a beautiful spring day watching the Blackbirds peck for worms and our two garden Robins watch me from their perch on the cherry blossom I find myself reflecting on life – mine particularly. The lockdown imposed by our Government has been a rare opportunity for me to take time out from the merry-go-round of life and simply “be”. (I suspect like most of you, kind enough to read this page). I have no pearls of wisdom – just reflections and these thoughts are my own.
 As I look back down the years I linger at my days as a volunteer hospital chaplain – it was an interesting and frequently heart wrenching time, being with people when they were at their most vulnerable. I discovered a sad truth – people generally only called for the chaplain when they are at their lowest ebb.

I was frequently faced with the question “why” – “why has God let this happen to me/my loved one?” I never found it very easy to answer - even with a number of years of theological training behind me, I felt my response was too text book, almost mechanical, not from the heart – but in most cases it seemed to bring comfort. Fast forward a few years and suddenly I was faced with the unthinkable – my husband who always seemed so strong and invincible was diagnosed with terminal cancer– I too cried out from the bottom of my heart at the unfairness of it all  – “why God why?” The text book answers were of no help, my training did not help – God is with you in your suffering, God too suffers – we were never promised immunity from pain in this life etc etc. One helpful person even tried to tell me that God never gives us more than we can cope with – that went down like a lead balloon - my faith teetered for what seemed like an eternity. Easy to believe in a loving God when life is going well. I found the writings of Mother Teresa a great comfort – I was not alone in my doubts of a caring God.
I think it is fair to say it was an extremely difficult period for me and my children but in time – a very long time -  I came to accept that yes God really is with us in our pain and suffering, holds us and comforts us if we ask him into our lives and eventually,  I resumed my ministry with perhaps more understanding and empathy. I was helped by a friend who not only recommended specific bible passages to read but gave me a book – Philip Yancy “Where is God When it Hurts?” I have read it many times over the years and found it really helpful in putting pain into some kind of perspective and God’s part in helping us with the pain of life.
Now during the Coronavirus pandemic, like most people I sit night after night watching the News, the terrible statistics, the pain of people throughout the world, the deaths, the sights of priests in Spain and Italy blessing churches full of coffins, the brain recoils in horror from what it sees and what it hears and once again  I find myself  asking the question “why God why?”

I have had to remind myself of the truth I discovered all those years ago – God does care, but he is not a puppet master controlling our lives as Adam and Eve discovered. We have freedom of choice and we exercise those choices for good or bad and we have to live with the consequences of those choices. Sometimes what happens to us is of our own making at other times it is just life.   The New Testament and the message of Christ crucified is that of a loving and caring God. A God who sent his son into the world to be born to a young virgin, illegitimate, a refuge for two years, brought up in a poor village, an itinerate preacher who knew what it was to lose a much-loved friend.

 In John Chapter 11 verse 35 we find the shortest verse in the King James version of the Bible “And Jesus Wept”. That short sentence gives me so much comfort – Jesus not only understands our pain but has experienced it too. By living among us he experienced life in every sense.
In times of crisis as in any other times in our lives it seems to me that we can either put our trust in God or we can turn away – but of one thing I am certain – God never turns away from us his children – he feels our pain and if we hold out our hand to him he will take it, enfold us in his love and help us and support us – however we have to accept it may not always be in the way we want or expect.

The birds have now left the garden and dusk has arrived. I wish you all God’s peace and blessing at this difficult time and leave you with the following bible verses on which I have been meditating:

“Be still and know that I am God” – PSALM 46:10

“Casting all your worries on him, because he cares for you – 1 Peter 5:7

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

God Bless

Monday, 30 March 2020

Paula Trewin MBE

Paula writes:

As we find our love for our community, neighbours, friends and families expressed in new ways and we see compassion and empathy fighting through the fear and chaos I found this quote gave me a chance to stop and think about the wonderful time I can spend with my family. 

Make special memories for our will they remember this period in their lives........through our calmness. Love to everyone. Xxxxx 

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