Thursday, November 29, 2012

Six years tomorrow

Thursday 29th November 2012

A fruitful day with assemblies at Bellingham First School and Bellingham Middle School where we're developing relationships and ideas.  In the evening a presentation on the Deanery Pilgrimage which has prompted us to begin planning to receive pilgrims from elsewhere!  So things have been happening since I came here six years ago tomorrow.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Still here

Saturday 24th November 2012

Not many photographs taken in the rain or the fog this week.  Life has continued with two PCC meetings on consecutive evenings, a morning with other Area Deans and the Archdeacon, a funeral, a concert by Hexham Brass under the auspices of the Friends of St Cuthbert's Bellingham, and now preparation of tomorrow's services as I wrestle with my sermon for the Feast of Christ the King.  (What kind of a "king" does this mean?  And how does that affect our lives?)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Early to bed and early to rise..."

Monday 19th November 2012
Can I come?
Sorry: this morning's trot to Redesmouth doesn't involve taking passengers!  

"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise".
     Yesterday's early to bed (10.30) was unsurprising after I had  been early to rise (6.00 a.m.) to see to the horse and write the final version of my sermon before setting out for Sunday services.  
     However, it clearly didn't contribute to making me healthy (as I have a cold), wealthy (as the idea of a clergy stipend is that it's a flat rate regardless of how much work one does: it's designed to enable clergy to live unextravagantly without material worries so that they can devote their lives to their parishioners) and certainly not a man!   (But, of course, when the saying was coined, man, one of mankind, meant one of the human race.)
     Let's just hope that I may perhaps develop some wisdom.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Varied Sunday

Sunday 18th November 2012
Byrness Church memorial window to workers who died in the construction of Catcleugh Reservoir
9 o'clock Parish Communion up the Rede valley in the last church before Scotland at St Francis Byrness (from the modern service book) followed by 11 o'clock Parish Communion down the valley at St Cuthbert's Elsdon (according to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer) and then over across to the North Tyne valley for the afternoon service for the under-5's at St Cuthbert's Bellingham where we had the story of the Good Samaritan.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

All day in one parish

Friday 16th November 2012
Humans advising an inexperienced sheepdog
After my morning dose of outdoor life, the Archdeacon came to talk over the lack of clergy in this area.  (If you are a cleric with a vocation to rural ministry, please contact me!!!!)  Later I dealt with e-mails, hymn choices for Sunday and other undramatic but necessary matters which are always in the background of more newsworthy activities.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why no photographs?

Thursday 15th November 2012
Autumn fell
I haven't had much time to spend on the fells and it would have been inappropriate to photograph much of my activity in the last week  --  which included conducting a funeral at Falstone, taking services on Remembrance Sunday at Horsley, Otterburn and Thorneyburn, discussing a wide range of things in my study, and this evening attending a fund-raising supper organised by the Friends of Greenhaugh First School which rounded off the un-pictured week in a very enjoyable way.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mud and money

Wednesday 14th November 2012
"I'm all right.  What's the matter with you two?"
     The dog had fun in the forest; but horse and rider were disappointed to find all the favourite tracks bulldozed so that it was no longer safe to trot or canter on them.  (Look at the loose stones that could bruise Molly's foot if she landed on one at speed.)  I was also sad at the loss of the grass, heather, bushes and other wild plants which had previously grown there.
     That was supposed to be our lunchtime exercise after I broke off  working in my study at midday.
     The evening was a challenging PCC meeting in which we heard from the Diocesan "Parish Giving Officer" on how we could present the churches' financial situation to parishioners.  Now we have to decide what we will actually do about it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bellingham Middle School visit St Aidan's Thorneyburn

Thursday 8th November 2012
Year 6 from Bellingham Middle School
come upon King Oswin giving St Aidan a horse  --  before Aidan gave it away to a beggar.  

St Aidan              and the beggar

The king's groom prepares the horse

After hearing of St Aidan's kindness
Year 6 enter the church of
St Aidan at Thorneyburn

and explore the churchyard

finding local surnames on the
memorial stones

Back to school
     In case you wonder, this is an important example of the generosity of  Aidan whose reaction to an earlier missionary's complaints that the Northumbrians were unresponsive to the Gospel was "You must be gentle, brother".  When Aidan came to Northumberland, he showed them the love of Jesus in practical ways.  King Oswin was offended that Aidan gave away his gift; but Aidan commented that the horse was not as precious as the beggar who was "a child of God".
     In a poetic bit of improvisation, our Greenhaugh School beggar said "Have you got anything you could give me" and our young Aidan replied "Yes, of course: you can have my horse!"

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November chill

Wednesday 7th November 2012 
A dramatic morning sky
on a day of strong cold winds

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day of rest

Sunday 4th November 2012
     I was trying to photograph the leaves blowing off the beech but mis-timed it. 
      It was a day of small failures, including leaving behind the sermon that I had written for St John's Church Otterburn.  This could have been the stuff of nightmares; but knowing the congregation to be kind and forgiving, I simply did my best to remember what I had planned to say to them about the saints' role of helping us to come closer to God and about St John the Evangelist, their patron saint. 
      The writer of the fourth Gospel may well be the "beloved disciple" who sat close to Jesus at the Last Supper and who raced Peter to the empty tomb, looking properly at the abandoned grave clothes, understanding their significance (that Christ had risen from the dead) and with the eye of faith "he saw and believed".  The Gospel is written "so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this faith you may have life by his name." 
      The Evangelist (St John?) wrote because he cares about you!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

All Souls' Day

Friday 2nd November 2012
Light (sun, rainbow, fire), the light of God's love being the background to the lives of the saints.  Represented here from left to right are Patrick, George, Catherine, Theresa and Francis.
This was an apt display (produced at the morning's Messy Church session) for the All Souls' Day service in the evening, when we lit candles in memory of the departed.  
     People who point towards God, who light up our path and show us the way to eternal life are called "saints".

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Saints' Day

Thursday 1st November 2012
The North Tyne last month between Bellingham and Falstone
     The day began with my clipping the horse at 7 o'clock (before Morning Prayer at 8 o'clock). This was because with a thick coat Molly had got very hot cantering over the fells yesterday.
       After the 9.30 celebration of Holy Communion for All Saints' Day, I went up the valley towards Falstone to arrange a funeral. In the afternoon somebody came to see me at the Rectory at Bellingham about clergy covering church services in North Tyne and Redesdale.  In the evening (after Evening prayer and petrol buying!) there was a meeting in Corsenside parish concerning a grant-awarding charitable Trust. 
 (If you live in Corsenside parish, you may be eligible to apply for a grant for educational purposes from the Mission Hall Trustees.)