Guest lists and Pilgrims

At 18:01 this evening we thought about what hospitality is and how we practice that in a  21st century London setting (podcast here11111). I kind of felt that Jesus was suggesting that the guest list is far more important than any menu. During our discussion we wondered if the reading for tonight (Luke 14:7-14) was wider than hospitality and encompassed more of ensuring that people felt accepted and valued in a way that showed that we saw and acknowledged their value. The discussion was a good one and I think we went away inspired to make a bot of a difference in our immediate spheres of influence.

Tonight was even ore special, though, as we prayed for Barbara who temporarily leaves us for three months as she fulfils a lifelong ambition and does a bit of a world travel, visiting 10 countries and only staying in one place for around three days.

You can keep up to date with Barbara’s experiences by visiting her blog here. I’m really looking forward to reading something of her experiences.

As part of our service tonight we gathered around Barbara and prayed a blessing. we used and adapted ‘For the Traveller’ by John O’Donohue which I found in A Book of Blessings – well worth purchasing!

To send Barbara off we used these word tonight:

For the Traveler

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

 

Go well Barbara, we look forward to welcoming you back in December!

Seattle time!

The case is packed (even weighed and if the spring balance is accurate it is below weight), I’m checked in, I’ve even printed my boarding pass and, all being well, I should take off from Heathrow tomorrow at 2.20pm on a Britsh Airways flight to Seattle.

If you have missed this – I am incredibly excited to be on a 3 week placement with Church Of The Apostles and looking forward to learning lots from the community of people there as well as sharing a little bit about what I do in Rochester and pioneer ministry / fresh expressions. This is being viewed, quite rightly, as part of my training!

I will land tomorrow just after 4pm local time and will be met at the airport and attend vespers at 6.00pm in St Paul’s chapel … an excellent way to start my time with COTA.

I feel a sense of excitement as well as nervousness. I can’t believe it is over 10 years since I have properly traveled. I also feel a sense of loss … planning a trip away is exciting and I’m really pleased to be going, but I know I will miss my family here – please, when you remember to pray for me on my travels, also remember to pray for Sarah, Tom, Beth and Joe. I think it’s tough on them.

Now seems a good time to thank all of you who have made this possible – you know who you are. It’s a great opportunity and everyone tells me how much I will love it … and I’m sure they are right!

I hope to blog here about my experiences ….so watch this space!

High Speed experience

Yesterday I chose to pay £2 extra and travel on the High Speed service from Kent to St Pancras rather than my normal service to Victoria. This was partly because I was meeting Ian near Bank Tube (easier from St pancras) but also, if I am honest I wanted to go on it just for the experience.

Plush … fast and a great service … I hope I have more excuses to use it in the future.

A big thaw?

I’m going to be leaving for Rochester soon, but am having to miss Morning Prayer as I can’t get into my car – the doors are frozen solid. To be honest I was going to drive in later as the road to get off my estate is a shiny slippery which is making driving for my neighbours a real challenge! I am waiting for it to thaw a bit. So in good Christian style … I am letting them go before me, putting myself last, so that they can churn up the ice on the road to make it drivable.

I did consider catching a bus this morning as my car journey is only 10 minutes straight along the A2. Amazingly there is no bus that goes straight along the A2 a major road through the middle of Medway and then on to London. Apparently I have to catch a bus into Chatham bus station and then another from there to Rochester. The whole journey, from leaving my house to arriving at the cathedral, will take around 50 minutes. That is 50 minutes to do a 4 mile journey!

It is not surprising then, why so many people drive to work and ignore public transport. I can be in the cathedral 15 minutes after leaving my house if I drive, or 50 minutes (if I catch the quicker) bus. It’s a shame as I was looking forward to a bus journey and was toying with the idea of losing my ageing car and using the bus regularly. This would have helped the environment as well as my wallet … but it seems the 145 000 mile car that has done me well will have to keep going a good while yet! (before people say – yes I know cycling is an even better option, but my physio won’t allow that yet … maybe soon!)

Giant Propellors


On my way home from the chirpracter on Monday I got caught up in this.

Giant propellors for windmills are arriving at Chatham Docks and then travelling to Ronmey Marsh by road.

The sight was comical as I watched these giant blades slowly negotiating roundabouts. the photo is not that great as I took it with my phone – but it gives some idea of the size.

You can watch a news report here.

disrupted plans

I had a good plan for today.
Leave at 730ish and meet Dave in Aylesbury before then meeting Andrew in Wycombe.
By 9.30 I still had not reached the Dartford Crossing due to the storms causing problems and accidents and so I turned back.
I eventually got home at 10.30 and so my travel time of 3 hours racked up a massive mileage of 40 miles!
It always amazes me (I don’t know why it always amazes me, you could ask why don’t I learn?!) that no matter how advanced we think we are s humans that nature can still gain the upper hand.

We like to think we can control our environment, that we are more ‘in control’ than we are but the events of the last few hours show us that we are still very subject to the laws of nature. That would be Creator God’s laws of nature.

It’s not just humanity that is fragile, it is human lifestyle and technology as well. We think we are so great, and yet a strong wind and a lot of rain can still grind us to a halt in exactly the same way it did hundreds of years ago.

seeing through the fog

Yesterday morning I left the house just before 530am to be at head office in Halesowen as it was my turn as a senior manager to join the leadership team meeting which runs from 9 until 5. I quite like leaving this early, but on this occasion there was dense fog and it was difficult to see my car when I stepped out of my front door, let alone think of driving for 3 hours.

As I tentatively started out I was pleased to see that the fog was not uniform across my route. After about 20 mins looking hard for signs of were to go, the fog suddenly cleared, only to return later in the journey on a number of occasion.

It did cross my mind that driving through fog can be like trying to understand the journey of our lives if we choose to make that journey a journey with God. There are times when I find myself in situations where I am quite scared, and even worried for my safety as I gingerly move ahead in full concentration, knowing that the road is there somewhere but needing to look very carefully to be able to stay on that road. Yesterday this was helped my following others that were ahead of me, although that can have its risks too.

At other times, when the fog cleared, I was able to sit back and breathe a bit of a sigh of relief as I could see the road ahead quite clearly and put my foot down on the accelerator. I enjoyed this part of the journey, and the music was turned up as it is much easier to concentrate – but these are times as well that I work on automatic and miss the stuff that is rushing past me at 70 mph (officially!)

On refection I’m not sure if I prefer the harder part of the journey, where I am searching and noticing more and having to make a great effort, or whether its the sunnier parts of the journey which seem to cost me very little. I guess I like the variety of both!

The meeting itself was great. It’s always a pleasure to experience how honest our leadership team is with each other and how enabling and encouraging they can be in their outlook. It’s good to be part of something so special!

travelling faith

I have been thinking a lot about journeys recently. Tomorrow morning I leave early to be in taunton for 10 am before travelling back later in the day after meeting up with some YFC friends.

I have often heard the Christian life described as a journey and I think it is. Alongside this description, however, I also hear arguments over ‘brands’ of worship, particular beliefs, and so on. This frustrates me. People talk of journeys but expect everyone to follow the exact same path.

Why can’t we understand that if we are on a journey that means exactly what it says. People on journey’s are all at different places. The Christian journey reminds me so much of a Hash.

If you don’t know what a Hash is then you need to look here. When I visited my step father in Qatar every chance I got when on holiday we would hash weekly. Tjos of you that know me well that a drinking club with a running problem is probably the club I am best suited for – far more than ordained ministry in the CofE! (in fact maybe a good alternative is to find a good hash in the south east!)

In the hash some loved to run off, investigate all the trails, run back, share their info and then rush off again. Others were happy to run far enough behind the leaders so they did the journey, but no unnecessary extras – in fact I used to hang back far enough so I could work out short cuts! Others walked. Others drove the 4WD’s to the end of the race to set up the BBQ and ensure the beers were cold. The point was this was a community all travelling in the same direction. The over-riding aim was that we moved forward together, not that we all get there at the same time.

If we are going to say the Christian life is a journey we need to take on board what that actually means – people travelling in the same direction, but using a massive variety of routes to get there. If we can do that the experience will be incredibly richer!

Travels

I will be away for a few days.
I leave in the morning at around 5.20am to get to YFC head office for some meetings. I hope to beat the traffic and find somewhere for breakfast!
Tomorrow night I am going to shoot across to Nottingham and stay with good friend Chris and catch up there.
On Wednesday I am back at Head Office to plan some mission stuff before heading back home sometime Wednesday afternoon I hope.

I think I’ve done too much driving of late and I’m looking forward to a Christmas break!