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July's Daily Message

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1 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections - Thursday 1st July 2021

Thought for Today

This week I’ve been sharing some thoughts about what I think leadership should like during these Coronavirus times. I think it needs to be based on a foundation of compassion, especially towards those who are suffering, or who are fearful or anxious. At the same time, we need to put our fears and anxieties in their rightful context. We need to remind ourselves that we are encircled and upheld by God’s love, and that nothing separates us from that love. As we look at the challenges which we face, it is good to gather data and to make plans for the future. But it is also good to accept that the unexpected will happen, and so our plans for the future need to be flexible. What will life in our country be like in 6 months’ time? Who knows! What will our church life be like in 12 months’ time? Who knows! But we can make some sensible plans for the next few months, and see how things develop. Flexibility is the name of the game.

And we need the honesty to accept that we will make mistakes and get things wrong. We need the honesty to admit that we don’t know everything, and sometimes we don’t know the things which we really ought to know. Leadership isn’t about never making a mistake, and it isn’t about having all the answers. Leadership is about modelling honesty. It’s about having the courage to admit to the mistakes which we have made, and the things which we don’t know. It’s also having the courage to admit that our wonderful plan for the future might turn out to be deeply flawed and even counter-productive. Why is this honesty so important? Because when we are honest about our mistakes, we are then in a position to learn from them, and to make meaningful improvements in the way we do things.

When we see our lives encircled and upheld by God’s love, I think we are better able to admit the mistakes which we have made. And when we admit our mistakes, to ourselves and to one another, we are better able to make the changes which we need to make. Each and everyone of us has our limitations, and honesty is what turns our limitations from being a source of weakness into being a source of strength.

Prayer for Today

Lord, give us the courage to be honest about ourselves- about our successes and our failures; help us to be thankful for who we really are. Amen.
2 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections - Friday 2nd July 2021
Thought for Today

I have now reached the fifth and final reflection on leadership during these Coronavirus times.

My final thought about leadership is that it is something that is to be shared, but not delegated. What do I mean by this?

By sharing leadership, I mean that we should actively seek to share our decision making with others. We should listen to others, and discuss things as a group or community. Everyone has a different perspective to bring, and everyone has something important to say. When we share leadership, we also recognise that we are responsible for one another’s welfare. Even if our culture encourages to act as if we are individuals, the reality is that we live our lives as members of various communities. Shared leadership recognises this communal dimension to our lives. Shared leadership does not always mean that we have to seek to consensus, or that we should only act in accordance with the wishes of the majority. But it does mean that we seek to share our decision making with others, and we give others the opportunity to have their say.

Such shared leadership is not the same as delegated leadership. By delegated leadership, I mean the attempt to pass on our responsibility to someone else. It is an exercise in passing the buck. We say to someone else, “oh, you take the decision on my behalf”. It can be tempting to pass the buck in this way, especially if we are faced by an unpopular decision or are fearful that a decision might turn out to be misguided or mistaken. Sometime this delegated leadership involves passing the buck to a level above. There is always someone else to blame, especially in hierarchical organisations. In the Church, this phenomenon allows us to blame the Bishop, the Archbishop, and so on!

When we share leadership, we acknowledge our own responsibility for our actions and decisions, and at the same time seek support and advice from one another. I think it encourages the sort of leadership which can best serve the common good.

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to work collaboratively with one another, and value the insights and gifts of every member of the community. Amen.
3 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections - Friday 2nd July 2021
Thought for Today

I have now reached the fifth and final reflection on leadership during these Coronavirus times.

My final thought about leadership is that it is something that is to be shared, but not delegated. What do I mean by this?

By sharing leadership, I mean that we should actively seek to share our decision making with others. We should listen to others, and discuss things as a group or community. Everyone has a different perspective to bring, and everyone has something important to say. When we share leadership, we also recognise that we are responsible for one another’s welfare. Even if our culture encourages to act as if we are individuals, the reality is that we live our lives as members of various communities. Shared leadership recognises this communal dimension to our lives. Shared leadership does not always mean that we have to seek to consensus, or that we should only act in accordance with the wishes of the majority. But it does mean that we seek to share our decision making with others, and we give others the opportunity to have their say.

Such shared leadership is not the same as delegated leadership. By delegated leadership, I mean the attempt to pass on our responsibility to someone else. It is an exercise in passing the buck. We say to someone else, “oh, you take the decision on my behalf”. It can be tempting to pass the buck in this way, especially if we are faced by an unpopular decision or are fearful that a decision might turn out to be misguided or mistaken. Sometime this delegated leadership involves passing the buck to a level above. There is always someone else to blame, especially in hierarchical organisations. In the Church, this phenomenon allows us to blame the Bishop, the Archbishop, and so on!

When we share leadership, we acknowledge our own responsibility for our actions and decisions, and at the same time seek support and advice from one another. I think it encourages the sort of leadership which can best serve the common good.

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to work collaboratively with one another, and value the insights and gifts of every member of the community. Amen.
4 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections - Friday 2nd July 2021
Thought for Today

I have now reached the fifth and final reflection on leadership during these Coronavirus times.

My final thought about leadership is that it is something that is to be shared, but not delegated. What do I mean by this?

By sharing leadership, I mean that we should actively seek to share our decision making with others. We should listen to others, and discuss things as a group or community. Everyone has a different perspective to bring, and everyone has something important to say. When we share leadership, we also recognise that we are responsible for one another’s welfare. Even if our culture encourages to act as if we are individuals, the reality is that we live our lives as members of various communities. Shared leadership recognises this communal dimension to our lives. Shared leadership does not always mean that we have to seek to consensus, or that we should only act in accordance with the wishes of the majority. But it does mean that we seek to share our decision making with others, and we give others the opportunity to have their say.

Such shared leadership is not the same as delegated leadership. By delegated leadership, I mean the attempt to pass on our responsibility to someone else. It is an exercise in passing the buck. We say to someone else, “oh, you take the decision on my behalf”. It can be tempting to pass the buck in this way, especially if we are faced by an unpopular decision or are fearful that a decision might turn out to be misguided or mistaken. Sometime this delegated leadership involves passing the buck to a level above. There is always someone else to blame, especially in hierarchical organisations. In the Church, this phenomenon allows us to blame the Bishop, the Archbishop, and so on!

When we share leadership, we acknowledge our own responsibility for our actions and decisions, and at the same time seek support and advice from one another. I think it encourages the sort of leadership which can best serve the common good.

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to work collaboratively with one another, and value the insights and gifts of every member of the community. Amen.
5 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Monday 5th July 2021

Thought for Today

Last week, I wrote a short series of reflections on leadership during these Coronavirus times. This week and next week, I’m going to share some reflections on the challenge of living our lives as followers of Jesus. I think the Christian faith is a combination of comfort and challenge, and we need both if we are to grow as Christians. The comfort of our faith gives us the strength we need to face difficult times and experiences in our own lives and in the lives of others. But we also need to be challenged, as these challenges provide us with the opportunity to grow as human beings, and to learn more about God.

This week, I’m going to look at a passage from chapter 6 of Mark’s Gospel, in which Jesus sends out the twelve apostles. He provides them with various instructions, and these will form the basis of this week’s reflections. They certainly contain plenty of challenge!

The first challenge is to our assumption about the nature of work, and about roles in the workplace. We tend to assume that one person does one job; we might come across the idea of a job-share, but this seems the exception rather than the rule. Interestingly, Jesus seems to have taken a different view. When he came to sending out the apostles, he did so “two by two”. I wonder why Jesus did this? Perhaps he realised that jobs can be lonely, and it’s good to have a colleague; and from a practical point of view, two minds are usually better than one! Perhaps there was also the question of supervision : a small team provides a degree of accountability which might otherwise be lacking where someone works on their own.

Interestingly, Jesus decided not to send the apostles as a team of 12. Perhaps he thought that 12 would be too large to be effective. I think it is often our experience that small teams are more efficient than larger ones- they are certainly easier to manage!

So the challenge to us is this : who might we team up with, to support and encourage us in our Christian lives? Who might be in our small team?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to support each other as we live out our faith; help us to be open to the possibility of challenge, and willing to see challenge as an opportunity for growth. Amen.
6 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Tuesday 6th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’re reflecting on some of the challenges of living the Christian life.

Today, I wish to share some reflections on the challenge of authority, and in particular authority in the Church. When Jesus commissioned the 12 apostles, we read that he gave them “authority” for their work. I wonder what you think about the idea of “authority” in the Church?

Traditionally, being a Christian involves accepting the “authority” of some individual , organisation or text, especially the Bible. As a Christian, we can’t just decide to do or believe whatever we want : we are accountable to the wider Church. What this means in practice varies from church to church. For some churches, “authority” resides in the leader of the local congregation, or in some individual such as a Bishop. For other churches, “authority” lies in an elected or appointed body, perhaps a Church council or a group of senior Church leaders. And of course, all Churches recognise that the Bible has “authority”; but how much authority? And who determines how the Bible is to be interpreted and applied in any particular situation? Churches give different answers to these questions.

But the traditional idea of “authority” is a challenging one. “Authority” can be abused, whether it is wielded by individuals or by groups. And surely God has a personal relationship with each one of us, so how can someone else in the Church tell us what we should believe or how we should act? Is n’t our belief and action a private matter between us and our Maker?

Has the time come to abandon the idea of “authority” in the Church? Or would this simply lead to chaos, with every believing and behaving just as they want? When Jesus gave “authority” to the 12 apostles, is this simply a piece of history, or is it still relevant for us today? The reality of “authority” in the Church has always been a challenging one, and sometimes it has been used simply as a way of exploiting the vulnerable. But can the Church exist without it? What do you think?

Prayer for Today

Lord, we pray for all those in positions of authority, in the Church and in secular society; give them the wisdom they need, and protect them from any temptation to abuse their power. Amen.
7 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Wednesday 7th July 2021

Thought for Today

Yesterday, I wrote about the challenge of “authority”. Today, I wish to write about a different challenge.

When Jesus sent out the 12 apostles, he ordered them “to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.” In other words, Jesus instructed his apostles to travel light, and to rely on being welcomed into people’s homes. They were to trust that God would provide for them, so they did not need to carry food, or money or spare clothing.

I wonder what you think about this approach to living the Christian life? Do we need to make prudent provision for the future, or should we simply trust in God’s goodness and hope for the best? I suspect most Christians have adopted a compromise position. We make sensible plans for the future, realising that we will need money to pay the bills and a roof over our heads. At the same time, we don’t allow ourselves to get too anxious : we trust that if we try the best and act with reasonable prudence, God will ensure that things will turn out ok. Yes, we can trust God to provide; but at the same time, God expects us to make the best use of the resources and opportunities available to us.

There are obvious advantages to such a balanced position. But at the same time, there are dangers. Does it prevent us from being truly courageous and adventurous in the decisions we take? Does it mean that we never quite trust God wholly, and so we never quite know the wonder of God’s love in all its fullness? Perhaps much depends on whether we feel that we are being guided and instructed by God. The apostles were being obedient to Jesus’ instructions, and so it was logical for them to trust that God would provide for them. I think we can be much less sure of God’s provision if we’re simply doing something off our own bat.
I wonder where we might feel we are being obedient to Jesus’ instructions in our own lives?

Prayer for Today

Lord, amidst all the plans we make for the future, help us to find time to listen to you, and to trust in your love for us and our world.
8 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Thursday 8th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been looking at a passage in chapter 6 of Mark’s gospel, which describes how Jesus sent out the 12 apostles. Jesus tells them how they are to do their work, but there is no reference to the content of their message. What are they to say, as they go out to preach the gospel?

Mark himself provides a brief summary of their message : “so they went out and proclaimed that all should repent”.

This is a challenging message indeed! Would we have the courage to tell other people that their behaviour is not pleasing to God, and that they should change their ways for the better? And note that Mark writes that the apostles proclaimed that “all” should repent. In other words, the apostles were to challenge everybody- even the rich and powerful, and even those who thought that they lived pretty good lives, and had no need of repentance.

I wonder what people thought when they heard the apostles’ preaching? Were they annoyed that these 12 people had taken it upon themselves to criticise the way people lived their lives? Or were they grateful that the apostles had the courage to remind us that we are all sinners, and each one of us need to repent of our ways and change our lives for the better?

One of the most challenging aspects of the Old and New Testaments is the repeated call to repentance. The bible tells us that we are all sinners, and all of us need to ask God for his forgiveness. How hard this message is! We don’t like to be told that we are sinners, and we don’t like other people to tell us that we need to change our behaviour. One of the questions for the contemporary Church is whether we need to give up on the traditional call for repentance. Does it sound too off-putting, too arrogant, too censorious? Or is it at the heart of the gospel, and a necessary reminder of the truth about our lives as human beings : a reminder that none of us is perfect, and that each one of us needs to seek God’s forgiveness for our many failings?

What do you think? Should we still be preaching that “all should repent”?

Prayer for Today

Lord, we come before you in a spirit of humility; give us insight into our failings, and a willingness to amend our ways for the better. Amen.
9 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 9th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been looking at some of the challenges involved in being a follower of Jesus, taking as our text the passage in chapter 6 of Mark’s gospel where Jesus sends out the 12 apostles. Today I want to share a few thoughts about the Christian ministry of healing. Mark notes that the apostles “anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them”. Does this passage have any relevance to Christian ministry today?

Different answers can be given to this question. Some might say that our understanding of disease and medicine has been completely transformed since the days of the first disciples, and that nowadays there is no place or need for a Christian ministry of healing, unless of course we possess the necessary professional qualifications and expertise. In the modern world, healing needs to be left to the professionals.

Others might say that there are well substantiated cases where a healing seems to have been the result of prayer, which might or might not involve the laying on of hands. Some Christians do seem to possess a special gift or aptitude for healing prayer. This does n’t mean that they are always able to work some sort of miracle cure. Of course, some apparent miracles of healing are merely co-incidence, or even a deliberate attempt to deceive the gullible. But there are at least some examples of what would appear to be genuine miracles of healing.

And there are others who would say that healing has many dimensions. A physical illness can leave us worried, anxious and ill at ease. Christian ministry may not be able to cure the physical illness, but it can bring us peace of mind. It can help to heal the soul – and so often modern medicine seems to leave the soul quite untouched. Of course, physical treatment is important. But is also important to have a sense of reassurance, and our wellbeing is not just a matter of our physical health : our minds and spirits matter, too.

So what do you think : should a ministry of healing still be a part of the Christian life today, or should we leave healing to the professionals?

Prayer for Today

Lord, bring us healing in all its wholeness : healing of body, mind and spirit. Amen.
10 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 9th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been looking at some of the challenges involved in being a follower of Jesus, taking as our text the passage in chapter 6 of Mark’s gospel where Jesus sends out the 12 apostles. Today I want to share a few thoughts about the Christian ministry of healing. Mark notes that the apostles “anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them”. Does this passage have any relevance to Christian ministry today?

Different answers can be given to this question. Some might say that our understanding of disease and medicine has been completely transformed since the days of the first disciples, and that nowadays there is no place or need for a Christian ministry of healing, unless of course we possess the necessary professional qualifications and expertise. In the modern world, healing needs to be left to the professionals.

Others might say that there are well substantiated cases where a healing seems to have been the result of prayer, which might or might not involve the laying on of hands. Some Christians do seem to possess a special gift or aptitude for healing prayer. This does n’t mean that they are always able to work some sort of miracle cure. Of course, some apparent miracles of healing are merely co-incidence, or even a deliberate attempt to deceive the gullible. But there are at least some examples of what would appear to be genuine miracles of healing.

And there are others who would say that healing has many dimensions. A physical illness can leave us worried, anxious and ill at ease. Christian ministry may not be able to cure the physical illness, but it can bring us peace of mind. It can help to heal the soul – and so often modern medicine seems to leave the soul quite untouched. Of course, physical treatment is important. But is also important to have a sense of reassurance, and our wellbeing is not just a matter of our physical health : our minds and spirits matter, too.

So what do you think : should a ministry of healing still be a part of the Christian life today, or should we leave healing to the professionals?

Prayer for Today

Lord, bring us healing in all its wholeness : healing of body, mind and spirit. Amen.
11 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 9th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been looking at some of the challenges involved in being a follower of Jesus, taking as our text the passage in chapter 6 of Mark’s gospel where Jesus sends out the 12 apostles. Today I want to share a few thoughts about the Christian ministry of healing. Mark notes that the apostles “anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them”. Does this passage have any relevance to Christian ministry today?

Different answers can be given to this question. Some might say that our understanding of disease and medicine has been completely transformed since the days of the first disciples, and that nowadays there is no place or need for a Christian ministry of healing, unless of course we possess the necessary professional qualifications and expertise. In the modern world, healing needs to be left to the professionals.

Others might say that there are well substantiated cases where a healing seems to have been the result of prayer, which might or might not involve the laying on of hands. Some Christians do seem to possess a special gift or aptitude for healing prayer. This does n’t mean that they are always able to work some sort of miracle cure. Of course, some apparent miracles of healing are merely co-incidence, or even a deliberate attempt to deceive the gullible. But there are at least some examples of what would appear to be genuine miracles of healing.

And there are others who would say that healing has many dimensions. A physical illness can leave us worried, anxious and ill at ease. Christian ministry may not be able to cure the physical illness, but it can bring us peace of mind. It can help to heal the soul – and so often modern medicine seems to leave the soul quite untouched. Of course, physical treatment is important. But is also important to have a sense of reassurance, and our wellbeing is not just a matter of our physical health : our minds and spirits matter, too.

So what do you think : should a ministry of healing still be a part of the Christian life today, or should we leave healing to the professionals?

Prayer for Today

Lord, bring us healing in all its wholeness : healing of body, mind and spirit. Amen.
12 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Monday 12th July 2021

Thought for Today

Yesterday, the Church remembered St Benedict, an Italian monk who lived back in the 6th Century. Benedict is famous for having written a Rule for the monastic life, and for being the founder of the Benedictine Order. The Benedictine Order continues to this day, and around the world thousands of Christians follow Benedict’s teaching. His Rule is not just for monks and nuns- many lay people have found it to be a helpful guide to living a balanced and satisfying Christian life. This week I’m going to write about some of the fundamental themes in Benedictine spirituality.

At the heart of Benedictine spirituality is the idea that the Christian life is about how we relate to one another within a community. In other words, being a Christian is n’t just something we do on our own and by ourselves. Being a Christian is about living together within a community. Our communal life is the main context in which we try to live out the teachings of Jesus.

Communities come in all shapes and sizes : families, schools, workplaces and churches are all example of communities which shape us. But Benedict tells us that being part of a community is n’t just a passive thing : it’s not just about being formed and changed by the community around us. It’s also about what we do to help to create the community of which we are members.

Being part of a community means we have responsibilities towards other members of the community, and others have responsibilities towards us. Members of the community have their individual personalities and interests, but the hope is that everyone works together for the common good.

Benedict would add that well-functioning and harmonious communities don’t just happen. They require rules, and there needs to be one or two individuals who are in overall charge. Above all, they require commitment from each of their members.

I wonder how committed we are to the flourishing of the communities to which we belong?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to remember our responsibilities to one another, and help us to work towards a world in which all can flourish. Amen.

13 July 2021Rector’s Reflections Tuesday 13th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we are looking at some of the elements of Benedictine Spirituality. Yesterday we looked at the importance of how we relate to one another in our families, workplaces and communities. Are we supporting and encouraging one another? Are we thinking of the common good, or are we just thinking of ourselves, and our own needs?

Another aspect of Benedictine Spirituality is the spiritual significance of work. For Benedict, our work is a form of prayer in itself. It is prayer because when we undertake a task, we use the gifts and skills God has given us, and we offer up the task to God. Every task can be offered up to God : something so simple as doing the washing up or loading the dishwasher can be a prayer to God.

Benedict is keen that we put our Christian faith into action. An act of love and care is in itself a prayer. Sometimes it can be hard for us to see our work lives as a form of prayer. Sometimes it can help to say a prayer before we start the task in question, especially if the task is something we would rather avoid. It can also be helpful to think of how the task we are doing is helping others, or making the world a better place, even in some tiny or indirect way.

Benedict’s teaching on work is challenging for at least two reasons. First, Benedict does not make a distinction between paid work and voluntary work, or between work in the family and work in the office or factory. Modern society tends to emphasise paid work in the office or factory, and undervalue other types of work. Benedict would say this is wrong, because all types of work are important, and every job has it role to play in promoting the wellbeing of the community. Secondly, we tend to separate our “spiritual lives” from our “religious” or “spiritual“ lives. We can assume that living the Christian life is mainly about going to Church, reading the bible, and saying our prayers. Benedict would say that these are, of course, important aspects of being a Christian; but they are not the complete picture. For Benedict, being a Christian is also about our attitude and approach to work, whether paid or unpaid.

Prayer for Today

Lord, we thank you for the opportunities provided by work, whether paid or unpaid; help us to give glory to you in the work we do. Amen.
14 July 2021Rector’s Reflections Wednesday 14th July 2021

Thought for Today

Here’s question for you : how often should a Christian go to church? Once a week on Sundays? A couple of times a month?

Benedict gave a surprising answer to this question. Benedict’s rule provides for at least 7 services a day! Some of these services would be short, perhaps 15 minutes or so. But that’s a lot of services- to say the least. Nowadays, Benedictine monks and nuns fill their days with fewer services, but they will still be in church 4 times a day. And that’s everyday - not just on Sundays.

I wonder what you think about this? It probably seems rather excessive. Why all this church going?

Benedict would probably give two answers to this question. The first is that we have a duty to worship God, and to offer up our prayers to him. When we pray to God, we pray not only on own behalf but also on behalf of others, including those who are too busy or distracted to pray on their own behalf. Our fundamental responsibility is to acknowledge God’s existence, to thank him for his love and mercy, and to bring our concerns before him in prayer. Regular prayer in church gives us the framework we need. It provides the discipline which we means that prayer actually happens. Otherwise it’ll drop off the end of our to do lists- we’ll usually be too busy or tired to actually get round to saying our prayers, other than in a rather perfunctory manner.

The second reason is that most of us are formed as Christians by our experience of coming together with others to worship God. It is in a church congregation that we hear the bible being read, and experience a sense of God’s presence through prayer and music. Coming to church and worshipping together helps us to grow as Christians.

So Benedict would say that coming to church often, and more than once a day, is essential for our spiritual growth. Would you agree? Or is the idea of coming to church even once a day too much for busy people living in the real world?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to seek out opportunities to worship you- to listen to your Word, to sing your praises, and to offer up our prayers. Amen.
15 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Thursday 15th July 2021

Thought for Today

Over the last few days we’ve been looking at various elements of Benedictine Spirituality: community; work; and worship. Today I’m going to look at another aspect of Benedictine spirituality : the importance of personal humility.

Benedict considered humility to be an essential element of the Christian life. The whole of chapter 7 of the Benedictine rule is devoted to the practice of humility. Benedict pictures the Christian life as a ladder: we’re either ascending or descending, getting closer to God or moving further away from him. We climb this ladder towards God through acts of humility; and we descend the ladder through pride. During the course of the chapter, Benedict sets out 12 steps in our journey of humility. Benedict understands how hard it is for us human beings to embrace a humble spirit, towards one another and towards God. Everyone likes to be in charge and in control; everyone likes to think that they have the best ideas and the greatest insight; everyone likes to think that they don’t need God in their lives at all, because they are perfectly capable to running their lives successfully without him. So the development of a spirit of true humility is difficult for us: we have to take it in stages. Hence Benedict provides us with 12 steps. He knows that we can’t achieve a level of deep humility at one go, or in a matter of weeks or months. It’s a matter of growing into a spirit of humility, and this growth is something we work on throughout our lives.

So the Benedictine life is intended to help us develop a deeper sense of humility. What does Benedict mean by humility? For Benedict, humility is about complete honesty before God and one another : that honesty which acknowledges our limitations and our failings, but also that honesty which acknowledges our gifts and achievements. Benedict is not interested in false modesty, or in the sort of false humility which prevents us from being who we truly are. For Benedict, humility is all about embracing fully a life of truth : the truth of God’s love and mercy in Jesus Christ.
I wonder where we need to grow in humility in our own lives?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to have the courage to cast away all that is false in our lives; help us to live our lives in the light of your truth, your love, and your peace.
16 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 16th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’ve been looking at some of the ideas associated with Benedictine Spirituality. We have thought about community, the spiritual significance of work, and the frequency of worship. Yesterday we looked at the value of humility – the true humility which recognises our failings but also celebrates our gifts.

I’m going to finish this series with some reflections on the importance of balance in our lives. A Benedictine life is , above all, a balanced life. What does this mean?

Basically, Benedict felt that we need to look at our lives as a whole. We should seek to live our lives in such a way as different activities are balanced, so as to produce a harmonious whole. A Benedictine monk or nun will divide their days between prayer and worship; doing their work in the community and in the world outside; recreation; and sleep. Benedict would say that it’s not good to let any one activity dominate, so that there’s no time for other things. We need a balanced life if we are to flourish as human beings. Interestingly, Benedict considers that this rule also applies to spiritual activities such as worship in church and saying our prayers. Benedict disapproves of “excessive “ spiritual activities : he would say that this is n’t healthy, and it’s also self-indulgent. Some time spent in worship and prayer is very good, but don’t over do it. He would say the same thing about work- work is important, but too much is bad for us as individuals, and bad for our communities.

I think the Benedictine ideal of a balanced life has so much to teach us, especially today. Our culture tends to encourage or even force us into living unbalanced lives : we spend too much of our time on one particular activity, and too little on another. For many people, there is tendency to spend too much time on work, and not enough time on our spiritual lives or on giving ourselves sufficient time for recreation and rest.

I wonder where there might be a lack of balance in our own lives ?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to live more balanced lives, so that we have time for others, time for ourselves, and time for the life of the Spirit. Amen.
17 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 16th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’ve been looking at some of the ideas associated with Benedictine Spirituality. We have thought about community, the spiritual significance of work, and the frequency of worship. Yesterday we looked at the value of humility – the true humility which recognises our failings but also celebrates our gifts.

I’m going to finish this series with some reflections on the importance of balance in our lives. A Benedictine life is , above all, a balanced life. What does this mean?

Basically, Benedict felt that we need to look at our lives as a whole. We should seek to live our lives in such a way as different activities are balanced, so as to produce a harmonious whole. A Benedictine monk or nun will divide their days between prayer and worship; doing their work in the community and in the world outside; recreation; and sleep. Benedict would say that it’s not good to let any one activity dominate, so that there’s no time for other things. We need a balanced life if we are to flourish as human beings. Interestingly, Benedict considers that this rule also applies to spiritual activities such as worship in church and saying our prayers. Benedict disapproves of “excessive “ spiritual activities : he would say that this is n’t healthy, and it’s also self-indulgent. Some time spent in worship and prayer is very good, but don’t over do it. He would say the same thing about work- work is important, but too much is bad for us as individuals, and bad for our communities.

I think the Benedictine ideal of a balanced life has so much to teach us, especially today. Our culture tends to encourage or even force us into living unbalanced lives : we spend too much of our time on one particular activity, and too little on another. For many people, there is tendency to spend too much time on work, and not enough time on our spiritual lives or on giving ourselves sufficient time for recreation and rest.

I wonder where there might be a lack of balance in our own lives ?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to live more balanced lives, so that we have time for others, time for ourselves, and time for the life of the Spirit. Amen.
18 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 16th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’ve been looking at some of the ideas associated with Benedictine Spirituality. We have thought about community, the spiritual significance of work, and the frequency of worship. Yesterday we looked at the value of humility – the true humility which recognises our failings but also celebrates our gifts.

I’m going to finish this series with some reflections on the importance of balance in our lives. A Benedictine life is , above all, a balanced life. What does this mean?

Basically, Benedict felt that we need to look at our lives as a whole. We should seek to live our lives in such a way as different activities are balanced, so as to produce a harmonious whole. A Benedictine monk or nun will divide their days between prayer and worship; doing their work in the community and in the world outside; recreation; and sleep. Benedict would say that it’s not good to let any one activity dominate, so that there’s no time for other things. We need a balanced life if we are to flourish as human beings. Interestingly, Benedict considers that this rule also applies to spiritual activities such as worship in church and saying our prayers. Benedict disapproves of “excessive “ spiritual activities : he would say that this is n’t healthy, and it’s also self-indulgent. Some time spent in worship and prayer is very good, but don’t over do it. He would say the same thing about work- work is important, but too much is bad for us as individuals, and bad for our communities.

I think the Benedictine ideal of a balanced life has so much to teach us, especially today. Our culture tends to encourage or even force us into living unbalanced lives : we spend too much of our time on one particular activity, and too little on another. For many people, there is tendency to spend too much time on work, and not enough time on our spiritual lives or on giving ourselves sufficient time for recreation and rest.

I wonder where there might be a lack of balance in our own lives ?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to live more balanced lives, so that we have time for others, time for ourselves, and time for the life of the Spirit. Amen.
19 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Monday 19th July 2021

Thought for Today

Last week I wrote a short series of reflections on aspects of Benedictine spirituality. Benedict has much to us about how we can grow as Christians through the experiences of everyday life.

Another spiritual tradition which helps us to connect with God in our everyday lives is that associated with St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. This week I’m going to write a series of reflections exploring certain aspects of Ignatius’ spirituality. I should add that although St.Ignatius was a Roman Catholic, Ignatian Spirituality is a gift offered to the whole Church – Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. You don’t have to be Roman Catholic to use Ignatius’ insights into the Christian life!

First of all, who was St.Ignatius? He was a Spanish nobleman who lived back in the 16th century. He founded the Jesuit Order, a religious order which has focussed on giving glory to God through Christian education and providing spiritual advice. During the course of his life, Ignatius himself provided spiritual advice to many, and he collected some his thoughts and experiences in a book called The Spiritual Exercises. The Spiritual Exercises remains one of the classic texts of Christian spirituality.

In the course of The Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius sets out the following fundamental principle of the Christian life : “[A human being] has been created to praise, reverence and serve our Lord God, thereby saving [their] soul”. For Ignatius, this is the purpose for which we have been created, and therefore this is what should give direction to our lives. And so when we come to making a choice in our lives, Ignatius would say that we should seek to choose whatever is more likely to achieve the purpose of our creating.
Whether you would agree or disagree with Ignatius, his statement certainly gives us food for thought : what is giving direction to our lives at present? What do we see as the purpose of our lives?

Prayer for Today

Lord, often we are so busy that we have to live hour by hour or day by day; help us to find time to reflect on the bigger questions in our life, and give us the courage to think about where are lives are headed. Amen.



20 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Tuesday 20th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’re looking at some of the themes of Ignatian Spirituality. Yesterday, we looked at the importance of thinking about the purpose and direction of our lives : where are we heading? What is the purpose of our lives?

This sort of question encourages us to look to the future : where are we heading? But Ignatius also felt it was important to look back, in order to reflect on our experiences. In fact he encouraged everyone to spend time each day reflecting on the events of the day. As we review the day that is past, where and when have we felt fully alive? When have we felt fulfilled and at peace?

Ignatius was particularly interested in noticing our feelings and emotions. Ignatius noticed in his own life that there were certain things which he thought would make him happy, but the happiness which these things brought was only temporary. Ignatius contrasted these with things which gave a longer lasting sense of happiness : a true sense of spiritual consolation. To use a trivial example, if we happen to like chocolate, we might go and eat a bar of our favourite chocolate and feel happy – but the happiness will not last for long. But there are things which we could do which will give us a true sense of well-being, and this sense of consolation will stay with us.

Ignatius was convinced that it is possible to encounter God by reflecting prayerfully on the events and experiences of the day. God can speak to us not only through our minds and our thoughts, but also through our feelings and emotions.

Ignatian Spirituality uses the word Examen to refer to this daily time of reflection. But this word is simply a piece of convenient jargon. The key thing is that we get into the habit of spending some time reflecting on the events of the day, and giving thanks to God for all that has been good about the day.

I wonder what we might wish to give thanks to God for today?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to spend some time in reflection, if only 5 minutes at the end of a busy day; help us to see you at work in our lives and our world. Amen.
21 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Wednesday 21st July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we are exploring some elements of Ignatian Spirituality, and today I wish to write about the concept of a “Cannonball Moment”.

What is a Cannonball Moment? It is an unexpected and perhaps unwanted event or experience, which stops us in our tracks and leads us to reconsider the direction of our lives. In short, it’s an experience or event which turns out to be a turning-point in our lives. It might be clear that it’s a turning-point at the time, or this might only become clear as we reflect on the event over a period of weeks, months or even years.

Why might this be referred to as a Cannonball Moment? It’s a reference to a particularly significant event in the life of Ignatius. Ignatius started off his life with the aim of achieving fame and honour through military success. Everything was going well until his leg was shattered by a cannonball during the siege of Pamplona. This led to a long period of recuperation, during which Ignatius had much time on his hands. He used this time to reflect on the direction and purpose of his life, and he came to realise that the military life was not for him. So when he had recovered from his injury, Ignatius set out to discover the new plans which God had in mind for him. In due course, this led Ignatius to establish the Society of Jesus, the religious order also known as The Jesuits.

Hence the phrase “Cannonball Moment”. Ignatius was prepared to turn what seemed like a complete disaster into the possibility of a new beginning. He could have decided to try to go back to his life as a soldier, or become a courtier dining out on stories of past military glory. But he did n’t : he saw that God was wanting to lead him in a new direction, and he had the courage to trust that God would continue to guide him as he set out into the future.
I wonder if we have ever had a “Cannonball Moment” in our own lives? As we reflect upon our lives as they are at present, might God be encouraging us to make some changes of direction?

Prayer for Today

Lord, give us an openness to new possibilities in our own lives and in the lives of others, and give us the courage to embrace opportunities for change. Amen.
22 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Thursday 22nd July 2021

Thought for Today

Do you enjoy making choices? Do you find it easy to choose between the various options which might be open to you? Or are there times when you find yourself quite unable to make a decision?

Ignatius was interested in how we make choices in our lives, and he wanted to help people to make better decisions. What was Ignatius’ advice?

To start with, Ignatius said it was important to look at all the various factors and preferences which affect our decision making, and to reject those factors which are purely selfish or which are not for the glory of God. For example, the mere fact that a particular choice of action might bring us wealth or fame is quite irrelevant. One day we will die, and we shall to leave our wealth and our honours behind us. We need to put our decisions into a wider context : the context of God’s kingdom, and God’s wish that everyone in his world should flourish and have life in all its fulness. How might the choice we make promote God’s agenda of love, peace and justice?

This consideration can help us in our decision making, as individuals and as communities. But it usually happens that we are still presented with several different options : there will be more than one way to further the kingdom of God. So how do we choose between the options before us? Ignatius suggests that it might be helpful to ask ourselves the following question : of the several options before us, which might be for the greater glory of God? Yes, each one of the options will undoubtedly give glory to God to some degree. But some of the options will give more glory to God than others.

And Ignatius would add that it’s best not to rely solely on our own judgement as we consider the choices in front of us. It’s good to talk about them with a wide and experienced friend; and the Jesuit experience down the centuries has been that the best choices are often made within the context of a group.

I wonder if you are currently having to make a difficult decision. If so, do you find Ignatius’s advice helpful ?

Prayer for Today

Lord, when we are faced with major choices, give us the wisdom we need to discern the options available, and the humility to seek advice from others.
23 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 23rd July 2021

Thought for Today

Today, as I finish this series of reflections on Ignatius Spirituality, I thought I would write about the value of generosity in the Christian life.

You may expect that I’m going to write about why it is important to be generous towards one another, giving freely of our own skills and resources, especially for the benefit of the neediest and most vulnerable in our society. This generous spirit was certainly very much part of Ignatius’ personality, and down the centuries caring for others has been an important aspect of Ignatian Spirituality.

But there’s another aspect to generosity : generosity towards God. Near to the beginning of The Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius comments that we will “benefit greatly” if we start our spiritual reflections “with a largehearted generosity” towards God, our Creator and Lord. Ignatius invites us to surrender to Him our “freedom of will, so that his Divine Majesty may make that use of [our] person and possessions which is in accordance with His most holy will.”

In other words, let’s not be niggardly towards God. Typically, we like to retain control over our lives. So when we offer up anything to God, the chances are we offer up only a fraction of ourselves and our lives. We give God 5 %, and retain the 95%; and doubtless we feel pretty good at our generosity in giving God as much as 5%. Ignatius challenges this approach : he would have us offer up to God everything that we have, and all that we are. If we’re only giving God 5% of our lives, it is little wonder if we feel that God is distant or unreal or irrelevant. Hence Ignatius’ comment that we will “benefit greatly” if we start with a “largehearted generosity” towards God. If we open our hearts towards God, we can expect that He will open his heart towards us. Such “largehearted generosity” towards God is not always easy, and it can require a lot of courage. But Ignatius would say that it’s worth it : it will allow God to transform our lives and our world for the better.

I wonder where God is calling us to a “largehearted generosity”?

Prayer for Today

Lord, so often we are fearful - of you, and of our future; help us to trust you, and help us to see your loving purposes for our lives and our world. Amen.
24 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 23rd July 2021

Thought for Today

Today, as I finish this series of reflections on Ignatius Spirituality, I thought I would write about the value of generosity in the Christian life.

You may expect that I’m going to write about why it is important to be generous towards one another, giving freely of our own skills and resources, especially for the benefit of the neediest and most vulnerable in our society. This generous spirit was certainly very much part of Ignatius’ personality, and down the centuries caring for others has been an important aspect of Ignatian Spirituality.

But there’s another aspect to generosity : generosity towards God. Near to the beginning of The Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius comments that we will “benefit greatly” if we start our spiritual reflections “with a largehearted generosity” towards God, our Creator and Lord. Ignatius invites us to surrender to Him our “freedom of will, so that his Divine Majesty may make that use of [our] person and possessions which is in accordance with His most holy will.”

In other words, let’s not be niggardly towards God. Typically, we like to retain control over our lives. So when we offer up anything to God, the chances are we offer up only a fraction of ourselves and our lives. We give God 5 %, and retain the 95%; and doubtless we feel pretty good at our generosity in giving God as much as 5%. Ignatius challenges this approach : he would have us offer up to God everything that we have, and all that we are. If we’re only giving God 5% of our lives, it is little wonder if we feel that God is distant or unreal or irrelevant. Hence Ignatius’ comment that we will “benefit greatly” if we start with a “largehearted generosity” towards God. If we open our hearts towards God, we can expect that He will open his heart towards us. Such “largehearted generosity” towards God is not always easy, and it can require a lot of courage. But Ignatius would say that it’s worth it : it will allow God to transform our lives and our world for the better.

I wonder where God is calling us to a “largehearted generosity”?

Prayer for Today

Lord, so often we are fearful - of you, and of our future; help us to trust you, and help us to see your loving purposes for our lives and our world. Amen.
25 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 23rd July 2021

Thought for Today

Today, as I finish this series of reflections on Ignatius Spirituality, I thought I would write about the value of generosity in the Christian life.

You may expect that I’m going to write about why it is important to be generous towards one another, giving freely of our own skills and resources, especially for the benefit of the neediest and most vulnerable in our society. This generous spirit was certainly very much part of Ignatius’ personality, and down the centuries caring for others has been an important aspect of Ignatian Spirituality.

But there’s another aspect to generosity : generosity towards God. Near to the beginning of The Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius comments that we will “benefit greatly” if we start our spiritual reflections “with a largehearted generosity” towards God, our Creator and Lord. Ignatius invites us to surrender to Him our “freedom of will, so that his Divine Majesty may make that use of [our] person and possessions which is in accordance with His most holy will.”

In other words, let’s not be niggardly towards God. Typically, we like to retain control over our lives. So when we offer up anything to God, the chances are we offer up only a fraction of ourselves and our lives. We give God 5 %, and retain the 95%; and doubtless we feel pretty good at our generosity in giving God as much as 5%. Ignatius challenges this approach : he would have us offer up to God everything that we have, and all that we are. If we’re only giving God 5% of our lives, it is little wonder if we feel that God is distant or unreal or irrelevant. Hence Ignatius’ comment that we will “benefit greatly” if we start with a “largehearted generosity” towards God. If we open our hearts towards God, we can expect that He will open his heart towards us. Such “largehearted generosity” towards God is not always easy, and it can require a lot of courage. But Ignatius would say that it’s worth it : it will allow God to transform our lives and our world for the better.

I wonder where God is calling us to a “largehearted generosity”?

Prayer for Today

Lord, so often we are fearful - of you, and of our future; help us to trust you, and help us to see your loving purposes for our lives and our world. Amen.
26 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Monday 26th July 2021

Thought for Today

During the week ahead, I thought I would offer some reflections on what it might be mean to be truly at peace : at peace with ourselves and with one another, at peace with the world around us, at peace with God.

Many people, perhaps most people, search for a sense of peace in their lives. Sometimes this is about restoring broken relationships. It is so easy to fall out with people, sometimes over something which is quite trivial in itself or as a result of a simple misunderstanding. We feel ill at ease over the broken relationship, and we want to put things right; but this can often prove so much more complicated than we would hope, and even where we manage some sort of reconciliation, relationships can remain awkward and strained for years.

Sometimes the search for peace isn’t so much about our relationships with others, as about our relationships with ourselves. Most people want to be able to feel at peace with themselves, but this is not always a straightforward process. Most of us have made mistakes in our lives: how do we feel about these? Are we happy with how our lives have turned out so far? Have we achieved the dreams and ambitions of our youth, or have our lives developed in unexpected and perhaps unwanted directions?

And then there’s the question of our relationship with God. I wonder if you feel at peace with God? If not, does this bother you? Many religious teachings and practices are designed to help us experience a sense of being at peace with God, and in the Christian tradition, Jesus is seen as restoring our relationship with God.

Whether we’re seeking peace with one another, with ourselves, or with God, there is much wise advice to be found in the pages of the Bible. We will be looking at some of this in the days ahead.

Prayer for Today
Lord, when our hearts are troubled, fill us with your peace;
When our minds are troubled, help us to know us your peace;
And when we do not know what to do or where to go, walk beside us and lead us into the way of peace. Amen.
27 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Tuesday 27th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’re looking at what the Bible might have to teach us about seeking peace in our lives. Today I’m going to look at a short psalm, psalm 120, which raises three challenging questions.

To begin with, would we say that are men or women of peace? Do we seekout peace? The author of the psalm proclaims confidently : “I am for peace”. Could we make the same proclamation? It might be that we are too hurt or too angry to be feel able to be men or women of peace. If this is so, it is good to face the reality of our feelings, and think how we might deal with our anger and how we might seek healing for our pain.

And how do our feelings relate to the feelings of those around us? The author of the psalm felt that they were in an impossible situation : they were for peace, but those around them were for war. I wonder if you have ever found yourself in a situation where you felt you were the sole voice for peace and calm? It can be hard to speak words of peace when everyone around you is pushing for a more aggressive course of action.

The author of the psalm felt that that had their “dwelling among those hate peace”.

It would have been quite understandable if , in the circumstances, the psalmist decided that they would simply give up on their search for peace. But they did n’t. They asked for God’s help, and God answered their prayer. Being a peace maker is never an easy vocation. But I wonder if we make it even harder than it need be, by not praying to God for his wisdom and his strength?
So if we are searching for peace in our own lives and in our communities, I wonder how we would answer these 3 questions raised by the author of Psalm 120 : can we say that we are truly men or women of peace? Do we have the strength of our own convictions, or are we allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by the voices of those around us? Are we trying to do everything in our strength, or do we ask God for the wisdom and courage which we need?

Prayer for Today

Lord, it’s not easy to be peacemakers; help us, inspire us, and encourage us; and forgive us our mistakes. Amen.
28 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Tuesday 27th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’re looking at what the Bible might have to teach us about seeking peace in our lives. Today I’m going to look at a short psalm, psalm 120, which raises three challenging questions.

To begin with, would we say that are men or women of peace? Do we seekout peace? The author of the psalm proclaims confidently : “I am for peace”. Could we make the same proclamation? It might be that we are too hurt or too angry to be feel able to be men or women of peace. If this is so, it is good to face the reality of our feelings, and think how we might deal with our anger and how we might seek healing for our pain.

And how do our feelings relate to the feelings of those around us? The author of the psalm felt that they were in an impossible situation : they were for peace, but those around them were for war. I wonder if you have ever found yourself in a situation where you felt you were the sole voice for peace and calm? It can be hard to speak words of peace when everyone around you is pushing for a more aggressive course of action.

The author of the psalm felt that that had their “dwelling among those hate peace”.

It would have been quite understandable if , in the circumstances, the psalmist decided that they would simply give up on their search for peace. But they did n’t. They asked for God’s help, and God answered their prayer. Being a peace maker is never an easy vocation. But I wonder if we make it even harder than it need be, by not praying to God for his wisdom and his strength?
So if we are searching for peace in our own lives and in our communities, I wonder how we would answer these 3 questions raised by the author of Psalm 120 : can we say that we are truly men or women of peace? Do we have the strength of our own convictions, or are we allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by the voices of those around us? Are we trying to do everything in our strength, or do we ask God for the wisdom and courage which we need?

Prayer for Today

Lord, it’s not easy to be peacemakers; help us, inspire us, and encourage us; and forgive us our mistakes. Amen.
29 July 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections Tuesday 27th July 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’re looking at what the Bible might have to teach us about seeking peace in our lives. Today I’m going to look at a short psalm, psalm 120, which raises three challenging questions.

To begin with, would we say that are men or women of peace? Do we seekout peace? The author of the psalm proclaims confidently : “I am for peace”. Could we make the same proclamation? It might be that we are too hurt or too angry to be feel able to be men or women of peace. If this is so, it is good to face the reality of our feelings, and think how we might deal with our anger and how we might seek healing for our pain.

And how do our feelings relate to the feelings of those around us? The author of the psalm felt that they were in an impossible situation : they were for peace, but those around them were for war. I wonder if you have ever found yourself in a situation where you felt you were the sole voice for peace and calm? It can be hard to speak words of peace when everyone around you is pushing for a more aggressive course of action.

The author of the psalm felt that that had their “dwelling among those hate peace”.

It would have been quite understandable if , in the circumstances, the psalmist decided that they would simply give up on their search for peace. But they did n’t. They asked for God’s help, and God answered their prayer. Being a peace maker is never an easy vocation. But I wonder if we make it even harder than it need be, by not praying to God for his wisdom and his strength?
So if we are searching for peace in our own lives and in our communities, I wonder how we would answer these 3 questions raised by the author of Psalm 120 : can we say that we are truly men or women of peace? Do we have the strength of our own convictions, or are we allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by the voices of those around us? Are we trying to do everything in our strength, or do we ask God for the wisdom and courage which we need?

Prayer for Today

Lord, it’s not easy to be peacemakers; help us, inspire us, and encourage us; and forgive us our mistakes. Amen.
30 July 2021
31 July 2021