Wondering Wednesdays – so they’re leaving

So yesterday we said goodbye to our third years. I counted up, that is the fifteenth group I have said goodbye to since the Midlands Institute for Children Youth and Mission started back in 1999. This year it was Nigel’s turn as year tutor to sit with each person and hear them reflect on their time on the course and reflect back some of what we saw too.

We next meet at the end of October when they graduate and it will be good to meet again and hear what God has done in the interim. There are moves, weddings, job applications and who knows what ahead for some of them between them and now.

I am particularly proud of this group as they have overcome so much and persevered and persevered and supported each other and cheered each other on so we could get to yesterday. Our leaving service involved each person playing their part and they took away wooden blocks with messages from each other and God on them.

On Friday night I was at the Quinton YFC fundraiser and watched Dani again organize a brilliant evening – another of our MCYM graduates who has done so much in fulfilling her calling and making life different, making life better for many young people. I am so encouraged seeing what our students go on to do, I do not underestimate what a privilege it is to be called to a job such as mine when I get to see people grow, develop, blossom and amaze me in how they make a unique contribution in their particular place in the world.

God bless the class of 2017.

Honest Christianity – unexploded bomb


This week here in Birmingham, during redevelopment an unexploded WWII bomb was found in Aston. Lives, homes and businesses were under threat, it was chaos, people moved out of their homes, roads closed, businesses made inaccessible while the bomb was made as safe as possible and a controlled explosion prepared for and carried out. We were only marginally inconvenienced, my journey,15 mins usually, was 2.5 hours on Tuesday morning.

It got me thinking and reflecting, what unexploded bombs do we have in our lives? Or even have we dropped into others lives? What harm and damage which has been done or said to us has or did lay dormant? Things just sit there and then suddenly something happens to bring it to the surface. Can we help people do a controlled explosion in pastoral or therapeutic care? What about the guy in the digger who first found it? How do you know when to stop digging?

Originally, the intentionality of the bomb was to harm and cause damage but then became indiscriminate as to where it actually was dropped. Systemic oppression still exists and can do physical and emotional harm. We may still be getting caught in the fallout – sometimes we are at the wrong place at the wrong time. There are individual, family, community, national, international, global bombs – there are bombs that will come back and impact us. we felt the blast a mile away .
Theologically, some things will not heal this side of eternity. Peter lived the rest of life knowing that he denied Jesus. The wounds of Jesus were still apparent in his risen body – wounds shouldn’t be vanished away. In our Christian hope – cross and crown are both significant.

Just because weapons of harm have been dormant for many years, does not mean they are not dangerous. Let’s be gracious with ourselves and others and be prepared for when the churning of life brings new things to the surface. They may need to explode, but let’s offer and help create a safe environment for them to be dealt with.

Friday photo – pilgrims’ steps

These pilgrims’ steps are not an easy walk, uphill, uneven… They are on St Michael’s Mount, one of my favourite places and I imagine the Benedictine monks who may have walked this way before me. To be a pilgrim is one of the hymns that is stuck in my mind from my primary school, each day I take pilgrim’s steps but not every day am I so mindful as when I see the sign and climb knowing that the end of the journey will bring joy and wonder.

Wondering Wednesdays – glimpses from home

Oxford vision

On Sunday I quoted a Billy Joel song in my sermon – not sure it was much appreciated! The song was you’re my home and the line was “whenever we’re together that’s my home”. I was talking about Jesus being the way being in part about relationship.

I have called this blog glimpses from home because I grew up in the Diocese of Oxford, I was baptized and confirmed there and there is still a sense of home. When yesterday I saw a tweet from the Bishop of Oxford with this vision I had that longing for home feeling – contemplative, compassionate and courageous are words that I have brought with me from my Christian upbringing, I can articulate how each of them have been formed in me. I don’t always do brilliantly at courageous but as a virtue it is one that I really admire in others and are challenged by choices, actions, words.  These words reflect the sort of home I find in relationship with Jesus, they shape and inspire me.

Honest Christianity – what a great slogan


This picture could describe the mandate of being a Christian, a positive self image, because we are a child of the King and the fruit of the Holy Spirit should pour out of us, especially when cut. I saw this is in a shop in
Malvern. It is not quite the beatitudes, but it is a good stab at contextualizing. I encourage students that you can theologically reflect on anything so a pineapple is as good as anything.

Today we had our annual memorial service and the member of our team who was preaching, Margaret, stressed to the families that how they were an inspiration to us because of how they sought to find a hope and trust in God in the light of what had happened to them. Amen Margaret, well said. Over 300 of them representing 60 plus families came to remember, cry and celebrate the gift and love of their children and they’re still sweet in the middle. We honour them as they come to honour their children.

Friday photo – location, location, location


I wonder why this church was built here. In the old days when you may have had one Vicar to a church how wonderful it would be to say morning prayer and then go for a stroll on the beach! However, God has not called me to the seaside so it would only be wishful thinking to imagine that but the sea does nourish and sustain me and visits to it are part of my rhythm of life. I find it amusing that God has called me to live and work so far from it! I read and reread various pieces of writing about the sea as well as surround myself with pictures of the sea – this is one I find apt:
When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Wondering Wednesdays – the road to where?


I know where this goes as I took the picture and as it happens it goes to one of my favourite places – a path leading to views of Godrevy lighthouse and the seals. However, a lot of time at the moment it feels like I am on a road and I am not quite sure where it is going. That is not necessarily a bad thing but as someone who prefers certainty and likes to know what is happening it can feel like a difficult place to be. But just as I always need to remember that the Bible is addressed to communities I am also feeling the same sort of insecurity about where the road is going big picture. I have voted at every possible opportunity since I turned 18 and do so as I have often said before with a sense of gratitude for those who campaigned and made sacrifices for me to be able to do so safely and easily. I was very despondent to see that the turnout for the Mayor was under 30% and I wish that you had to vote as is the case in Australia then at least there would genuinely be a mandate as opposed to the claims that are currently made which relate to minorities of the population even if a majority of those who voted. Please vote.