Friday, 7 March 2014

A day of listening

Thursday
Today the first day of lent has been a day of listening, to God.
I made the journey across to the next county to see my Spiritual Director, and in the journey there and back drove in silence, talking and trying to listen to God. While with here, I both spoke and listened to her wisdom and I reviewed the past few months and looked ahead to the next year and all it will bring in change and journeying.
One thing that really struck me was when I described the pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I've shared snippets with other and have taught a school lesson on my experience, but this was probably the first time I'd really shared in all its depth what the pilgrimage had meant to me. this is probably in part because I'm actually still processing it so as I share new insights and thoughts appear. I realised afresh just what it had meant to me to sit in those Holy places- especially Capernaum of which I have already blogged.
After I returned I made a funeral visit, more listening, this time to the family and to God as I tried to draw together the threads of a 90 years olds life.
Then in the evening I led compline in one of our villages. the opportunity for words music and silence was a fitting end to the day and drive back beneath the stars very special.

Ash wednesday

I tried to blog this the other day but then lost everything so I'm a couple of days behind.
Ash Wednesday is with us and so begins lent.
It was my privilege this evening to preside at our Ash Wednesday Communion.
Suddenly the words I had heard so many times before took on a new significance, a new weight of meaning as I slowly pronounced them to the gathered congregation.
 Not just the Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return, Turn from you sins and be faithful. But each penitential sentence through the service, and I was truly penitent for my own sins.
the communion too was beautiful, the realisation of the sacrifice of Jesus, the forgiveness of God and the shared meal which draws us all together. I went home in the darkness and silence blessed in a new way.
I have set as my Lenten discipline to sit in silence for at least 15 minutes each day just listening to God in contemplative prayer. This is something I don't find easy but over the last few weeks have felt very strongly it was something I need to do.
I trust God will speak to me in the silence if I but listen.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Reflections

AS an Ordinand and even before when doing the certificate of Theology  I was taught Theological reflection. Today something drew me to reread my early posts on this blog and I realised how much I had reflected in those early posts. Somewhere in the last 18 months I have ceased to really reflect on my life and ministry now. In fact I seem to have found myself in a reflective desert- unable to really make links between my experiences and a spiritual understanding.
As a curate one of the things I have to do before I am 'signed off' by the Bishop is produce a portfolio which consists of reflections on the 40 criteria I need to fulfil in order to be considered a fully trained priest. I have 12 more months to complete that portfolio but am already panicking at being able to do the reflections.
Todays reread of the early blogs showed me that I am capable if I put my mind to it and open myself up the God's spirit.
Perhaps I should follow a friends example and set myself a criteria a week to blog about in a reflective way in order to get to the point where I can complete my portfolio.
The portfolio aside I was asked yesterday if I was looking for my next post yet! I actually can't start looking for another year but that doesn't stop me beginning to consider what sort of place I think God may be calling me to. I'm sure more reflections on that will follow, but at the moment I still feel strongly called to rural ministry - but perhaps not 10 parishes! I also have to consider my husbands needs when looking for a parish. That will all follow in the coming months.
For now I am looking forward to 48 hours off- and the Saturday will be spent on my own in which I am planning to get away from home and spend some quality time just me and God.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Pilgrimage in the Holy Land.

Last week I returned from an 8 day pilgrimage to the Holy Land which my diocese organises for the Curates sometime during their curacy. Forty two of us set off on a dark cold January morning from Derby cathedral to travel to Heathrow and onward to Tel Aviv. As you can imagine I've come back with many photos ( 386 to be precise) and with many observations and special moments. However I've chosen to blog about just 4 of them.
The first was the first morning when we walked down from the Mount of Olives via the Garden of Gethsemane and into the Old City. Part way down we stopped at Domine Flevit Church- the place where Jesus is said to have stood and looked over Jerusalem and wept. As I stood looking at this view I felt the sorrow that Christ must still feel today as He looks down on the broken and divided and yet still so beautiful city. As we took communion looking over to the walls of the city with its magnificent golden Dome of the Rock marking the sacred site for Muslim, Jew and Christian so I wept for all that has happened through this lovely area, especially in the last 100 years. We spent the next 3 days visiting Bethlehem, Masada and the Dead Sea and the place thought to be Emmaus.
Then on the Sunday we travelled to the River Jordan and renewed our baptismal vows along with hundreds of Orthodox for whom it was Epiphany. To see the riverbank so filled with people, to see men and women in the water to hear Christians from either side of the border which is the river Jordan calling greetings to each other, were all moving moments. But what brought me to tears was as we said our vows, the water of the river was splashed over us and once again I committed myself to follow Him who was himself baptised in this river.
From there we travelled to Jericho and then onwards to the Sea of Galilee where we spent our last 3 nights. Here we visited the mount of Transfiguration, Nazareth and most memorably Capernaum. There I sat in the church over St Peters house and felt myself filled once again with the Holy Spirit, bathed in light and commissioned to continue the work to which He has called me. There was something very special about the whole area. Singing Dear Lord and Father of Mankind while sat on a boat on the lake, then arriving in this beautiful church and singing Be Still For the Presence of the Lord was an immense privilege. I wasn't the only one, and three of us met up as the time in the church came to an end and prayed for one another, feeling a special anointing of God's spirit as we prayed for one another.
The final picture is of the Sunrise over the sea of Galilee taken from our hotel on the last morning. I'm sure as the days and months pass I shall remember and understand much more of what I experienced in those 8 days but this photo reminds me of the beauty and despite its many problems, the peace of this place and the light of God which continues to shine
 





Sunday, 5 January 2014

A Curates Office!

Yesterday I returned from a weeks holiday- not that we went anywhere but after Christmas morning I had a week off and spent it madly catching up with family members. It was lovely but tiring coming so close after the Christmas rush and so I hadn't attempted to do any tidying in my office . Here's the result yesterday morning! You can probably see a number of props from my Christmas Eve crib services in the foreground.
So yesterday being a work day I decided I had to tackle the mess! After I'd got today's services sorted and most of the props ready I set to work and tidied up. It was actually very therapeutic and by the end of the day this was the result!

 Just peeping out is a Christingle I made out of bits and pieces I discovered as I was tidying the room
 
And here it is in all its glory

   
                                                         

 
Oh and can you guess what my Christmas present was?
 

 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Kami kazi pheasants and rural ministry.

Its been a long time since I posted anything. Life just seems so busy and as someone else posted on a blog once you get out of the habit how ever much you may have to say it just all then seems too much!
I am loving my curacy as always and in particular the journeys to the village churches. However I'm not enjoying the pheasants. Three years ago while at college we had a meeting with a pheasant on the A34 as we headed to Didcot on Christmas morning and the pheasant and our bumper came off very badly. As a result I'm quite nervous driving near them and we live quite close to a breeding area. At this time of year the lanes are full of pheasants happily wandering around and then suddenly flying upward and toward you as you approach. So far I've avoided hitting any but it makes the journeys interesting. (As do other road users who want the whole lane!)
The joys of rural ministry far outweigh that tiny pin prick though. Driving over a hill and seeing the valley below shrouded in mist- the sun glinting on the lake or house windows is wonderful. And the churches continue to be a real blessing. Small but with warm hearted hard working people. In one village I've started a Toddler group and its growing slowly and now extending into a Coffee morning for the older villagers once a month. Its great to see the mums slowly starting to own the group and plan for it rather than leaving it all to me.
In another village I'm going to be starting a form of Messy Church and I've had a positive reaction from the congregation and the school head teacher so that looks like taking off.
Frighteningly I'm now almost 18 months into my curacy and though its officially a 4 year curacy in another 18 months I'll be released to start looking for my next post. Something that by this time next year I will have to be paying about and listening for G od's leading as to where next.
On a different front having spent the last 5 years thinking about buying a new home- we sold what had been mine after K had sold his and always planned to buy a retirement home, now we seem to be moving nearer to settling on where. Interestingly its got me reading blogs again to glean information and advice from the expats community. So not in Britain! I shall leave saying where until we are definite.  then this blog may take on a totally different flavour as I chart our progress.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Ten years on

Reflecting on life and the anniversary of a friends marriage I realised that it is 10 years since my life was completely turned on its head- and 13 years this month since the somersaults started. Thirteen years ago I found out that my husband was having an affair. Despite my best efforts he left me and 10 years ago last weekend I received my decree absolute. I was divorced something I had never thought would happen to me! That day as I drove through the Derbyshire countryside I prayed and told God that this was the start of the rest of my life and that I was going to continue to walk with Him and the first thing I would do would be to find a new church home. On the following Sunday I walked into St Thomas church Brampton and immediately felt at home. Little would I know that that would be the start of the journey which would see me 10 years later an ordained priest in the church of England.
The following March I wrote the following in the church magazine- and rereading it today it still is the true testimony of our great God working in my life

Great is thy Faithfulness
During the last two weeks this hymn has been sung at services and has been echoing in my heart while away from church. Nineteen years ago this was the hymn my husband and I sang at our wedding. It has been a constant testimony of God’s goodness through the intervening years.

As I sang it this last Sunday I was choking back tears - very mixed tears both of joy and sorrow. You see three years ago the husband I had promised to love and honour nineteen years before, and whom I stood with and promised before God we would serve Him together, left my children and me. He also walked away from God and all that he had believed. So my tears were naturally of sorrow that all my hopes and dreams so long ago had disappeared and my life is very different now to what I had expected. August of last year saw my divorce complete, something I had always hoped to avert. But also they were of joy as I recognised the truth of the words despite my circumstances of the last three years.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.


My circumstances have changed but God’s goodness to me has never changed. He has held me close throughout.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


God has truly provided all I have needed, a new home, jobs as required, and rest when my body has been weary. In the last six months He has brought me to a new church home and more recently I have met and started dating a lovely Christian man.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


God has pardoned my sin - both at the time when I became a Christian and any sin I committed that contributed to my marriage breakup. He has also given me strength to get up and carry on being a mum to my three boys each day, strength to face work, however difficult and strength to get on with my life. He has also given me a bright hope that my future will be better and that life will continue. I have many blessings, and I praise God for each one of them.

I have been asked how I held onto my faith in God during this time, I have to say it was not me holding on to faith in God but The God of Faith holding on to me. He has cradled me in His arms and kept me safe when all around me disintegrated. Now I face the future secure in that love and with a heart full of praise.

Janet


Some years later someone read this and sent a message via the Rector to say how it had helped her. I'm learning now how my testimony of God's greatness can still help others and that the pain I went through when my husband left me has allowed me to help others going through the pain.
Nothing is wasted with God- and God truly causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him.