Thursday, May 31, 2012


Thursday 31st May 2012
"Listen to this"
Whilst the horses are whispering secrets, I'm juggling priorities.  It's clear that I have to be in church for Morning Prayer and for the Communion service.  Obviously I have to be here to host the meeting with Methodist, United Reformed Church and Roman Catholic friends to review our joint Lent discussion groups, our house-to-house collection during Christian Aid Week and to plan for our stand at the Bellingham Show and for the Harvest Supper which we will organise for the village.  It's also obvious that I must be at this evening's wedding rehearsal at Otterburn..  But after that, it's not so easy to know what very urgent administrative matters I can postpone in order to have an afternoon to get on with writing my sermon for Sunday.  This will be the only opportunity in view of the non-stop activities in the diary for the next four days!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A summer Saturday

Saturday 26th May 2012
Early morning across the farm
I rode before it became too hot.  Molly had a few minutes pretending to be a sheperding pony when we came across a neighbour moving a flock of ewes and lambs.  After that it was a half hour circuit of fells above the farm enjoying the early morning breeze.  Then Molly returned to her field companion and I returned to church where we dismantled the Easter Garden ready for Whitsun tomorrow.  On to the Community Fair in the Town Hall and seeing what progress the Diamond Orchard group were making.  Quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing in between trying to sort out tomorrow's two services and write my sermon.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The pace hots up

Friday 25th May 2012
Back at the Rectory
Well, it's going to be an action-packed ten days.  There are two weddings next weekend (one on Saturday and one on Bank Holiday Monday) as well as two special services for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee (in addition to all the usual Sunday services); and in between I hope to join in the street party at Bellingham, the lunch at Kielder, the tea at Falstone and the hog roast at Ridsdale.
     That means that in the next six days I have to prepare for the events in which I have particular responsibility, writing two wedding sermons (which are always unique) and several addresses for the Jubilee services which range from a big parish event at Corsenside (with picnic)  to a simple half hour out of doors at Elsdon to a formal Evensong at Bellingham.
     A concerned message from an organist reminds me that I have to get on with preparing for this coming Sunday (the day after tomorrow) and agree hymns with him.

Yorkshire hospitality

Tuesday 22nd May 2012
North Tyne evening
It was later than this picture shows when we got home after our ambitious day trip to Harrogate.  The overall impression was of the amiable people we met, from the young woman serving us coffee and cake in an otherwise empty lounge bar to the two men drinking in a pub garden on the North Yorkshire moors who volunteered to change our wheel when they noticed that we had a flat tyre.
     When we had asked if there was anything to eat with a cup of coffee, we had told the girl behind the bar that  we would be happy with whatever kind of cake was on offer.  We went to sit down after paying for what seemed rather expensive coffee and cake.  She reappeared with two plates of cake...four different slices on each plate, explaining that the chef had got over-excited at having customers on what had been a disappointly quiet day.  "Do you mean that all this is for us?" I exclaimed.  "I don't think we can manage all that."  "I expect we can manage a doggy bag" was her cheerful response.  She then organised our "journey snacks" in a small paper carrier bag in which each remaining slice was wrapped in neat silver foil.
     Every encounter from morning to night was friendly and helpful, a happy end to our holiday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Sunday off

Sunday 20th May 2012
Spring coming to Birtley
We enjoyed visiting a neighbouring church to join the congregation for the morning Parish Communion service before going out to lunch and returning home to the dog, the horse and the garden.  I hope the various locums got on all right in my churches this morning.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Out to grass

Thursday 10th May 2012
On their way to spring grazing
There are some computer problems at the Rectory.  Probably no posts on this blog for a few days.  Don't give up.  Visit again later this month, please.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Enjoying the Spring

Wednesday 9th May 2012
Kielder School admiring the view
As we were considering all the good things for which we wish to thank God, we went outside and looked for something that we usually take for granted or don't notice.  "What can you see that's beautiful?" asked their teacher.  "The view" was one boy's immediate answer.  So they all turned to enjoy the view and pretended to take photographs of it  --  whilst I took the opportunity genuinely to use my camera.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Good Shepherd

Tuesday 8th May 2012
Considering his design? 
Or perhaps licking his finger after decorating the biscuit with a sheep made in icing. TheSt Aidan's after-school club were thinking about Jesus' care for us  compared with the way a shepherd cares for his sheep, something with which the children are very familiar as they live surrounded by farms which are populated by flocks of sheep who really do know the shepherd's voice and respond not only to that but also to the engine of the quad bike!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A damp bank holiday

Monday 7th May 2012
Sheep grazing by the River Rede
Apart from looking after the horse and doing some visiting, I spent much of the day sorting out papers in my study and starting to write up the recent Deanery event examining Faith and the Future of the Countryside in this area.  [See the Events page for the beginning of this report.]

Sunday, May 6, 2012

After the May frost

Sunday 6th May 2012

Molly enjoys some Spring freedom whilst I get on with a day's work

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Wedding and baptism preparations

Saturday 5th April 2012
A red, white and blue allusion to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee,
though the Bellingham Festival of Flowers doesn't have a formal theme.  It's just filling the church with flowers in Eastertide,  The Jubilee reminder prompted me to organise the last-minute signing of greetings to her Majesty from members of the eight church congregations.  Otherwise the day was taken up with talking to various visitors viewing the flower arrangements, with seeing a wedding couple for their final marriage preparation session and with preparing for tomorrow's three services including filling in baptism cards for the family and for the godparents.  (What do you do for your godchildren that is different from what you do for anyone else?)

Friday, May 4, 2012

"Friends' " Flowers

Friday 4th May 2012
Flowers at the Good Samaritan window
The Friends of St Cuthbert's Bellingham have their Festival of Flowers completed to welcome any visitors who have come specially for this event or for the major local Baafest (Bellingham All Acounstic music festival) this weekend.
      The window, of course, illustrates Jesus' parable told in answer to the question "Who is my neighbour?"  (Answer: anyone who helps you if you're in trouble; and you do the same: "Go and do thou likewise")  Curiously, it's not irrelevant to this evening's meeting of the Deanery Chapter (the group of local clergy) who had agreed that after our evening Communion service at Bingfield we would discuss "How to love your enemy" in accordance with Christ's instruction to his disciples.   It seemed to me realistic to start with the question "Who is my enemy?" (not as obvious as one might assume).
     Meanwhile, many comings and goings, not only to enjoy the flower arrangements but also to do some final publicity at the campsites, to do a little parish visiting and all the other unpredictable encounters.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ready for the Festival of Flowers

Thursday 3rd May 2012

Ready for the weekend
After we had finished the morning celebration of Holy Communion there was a sudden influx of flower arrangers with leaves, secateurs, water...and flowers to create a Festival of Flowers organised by the Friends of St Cuthbert's Bellingham.  The idea was simply to fill the church with garden flowers as we move towards the end of Eastertide.  The Easter Garden is still in church (till Whitsun) as a reminder of the deadness of Good Friday (Jesus' death on the Cross represented by the dead leaves) and the new life replacing it at Easter with Christ's Resurrection (represented by the living plants flowering in the moss and grass) near to the tomb empty but for the discarded graveclothes.
     PCC meeting number two in the evening.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The new round of PCC's

Wednesday 2nd May 2012
The River North Tyne near Donkleywood
     This time I managed to get to the Confirmation class at Rochester which had had to be postponed whilst I was occupied with climbing into the Rectory.  I went on from there to Elsdon for the first meeting of the recently elected PCC which was concerned with future building projects and with the Queen's diamond Jubilee celebrations amongst other things.