Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday standstill

Saturday 26th January 2013
The bell of St Cuthbert's church Bellingham
Various planned events were cancelled because of the snow but the bell still rang before we said Morning Prayer as usual in church.  The sound is an invitation to join us (daily at 8.00 a.m. and 5.30 p.m.) and a reminder that we are praying for the community.
     Apart from working at my sermon for tomorrow, I managed to deal with 40 of the 83 e-mails that were waiting for me yesterday.

Home to a funeral

Friday 25th January 2013
Graveyard at St Cuthbert's Bellingham
Travelling worked out satisfactorily: 7.30 a.m. taxi from Holy Island to Berwick; 8.11 train to Newcastle; 9.24 train to Hexham where I collected my car and drove to the funeral which was a woodland burial in falling snow, an evocative atmosphere suitable for someone who belongs in the countryside.

Quiet outsidethe visitor season

Thursday 24th January 2013
Snow visible on the mainland

Not the time for pilgrims to walk to the island

On Holy Island

Wednesday 23rd January 2013
Lindisfarne Castle in late afternoon
when I walked in cold wind but no snow between our discussions.  This week is our annual chance to review the past year and talk over our experiences and ideas.

Off to Lindisfarne

Tuesday 22nd January 2013
Train journey to Berwick on Tweed
Various considerations prompted revised travel arrangements.  I drove the 17 miles to Hexham station where I left my car and was met by a farmer from county Durham who drove me for a meeting there.  I was then dropped at Durham station to catch a train to Newcastle where I changed for Berwick to meet the three fellow clergy with whom I shared a taxi for our stay on Holy Island.

Monday, January 21, 2013

No more blogging today

Monday 21st January 2013
Someone's enjoying the snow  --
which keeps turning off the computer; so no more blogging today.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Business as usual"

Sunday 20th January 2013
After the service at St Peter's Falstone
At the pre-agreed time of 7.15 the BBC Radio Newcastle Breakfast programme telephoned to interview me about a rural parish priest's Sunday morning in the snow.  I had said that I don't cancel services because it's so important for the Church to be reliable: if we have promised to provide something, then people must be able to trust us to do so.  The irony was that my potential 9 o'clock congregation rang to tell me that the service should be cancelled because none of them could get there!  (I would probably have managed by the main road, but they were unable to reach the main road.)
    Anyway, the 9.30 Parish Communion at Bellingham and the 11 o'clock one at Falstone went ahead more or less normally, as well as 3 o'clock STARS for the under-5's with their parents.
     Then two couples who were booked in for marriage preparation telephoned to postpone because of travelling difficulties.
     Incidentally, the picture of Falstone church above is a colour photograph though it may not look it.  As it happens, it's rather suitable for today's Gospel reading which was about Jesus turning water into wine when the drink ran out at a wedding reception.  Water into wine, black and white into colour, sorrow into joy  --  all these, like the whole of Jesus' ministry, are signs of the exuberant, creative power of God.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Comings and goings

Saturday 19th January 2013
Locally crafted chainsaw sculptures of Mary, Joseph the donkey and the Christ child in the crib have come to the church in time for Christmas and remained till Epiphany but have not gone yet.  There's no harm in being reminded of God's involvement in human lives for a bit longer than the Twelve days of Christmas.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Funeral at Thorneyburn

Thursday 17th January 2013
Sun in the churchyard and snow beyond as I wait for the hearse to arrive.  The 92-year-old whose funeral this is would not have been daunted by a sprinkling of snow.   She was brought up in a shepherd's cottage deep in these outlying hills and walked as a small child several miles to the remote school with its nine pupils.  If the weather prevented her from getting home she stayed overnight.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Seasonal weather

Monday 14th January 2013 
Cross at St Oswald's Heavenfield
This picture I took a few winters ago, but it seemed appropriate for today. Some seasonal snow should help to stave off a premature spring. 
 [At last there is a "Thought for the year" on a separate page.]

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sad deaths

Saturday 12th January 2013
An important part of my day was concerned with two deaths, one of a 92-year old leaving a brother now to live alone, and one in a quad bike accident on a farm.  "These things happen" as my realistic parishioners tend to say; but in one case it was in the natural course of events and in the other a shock out of the blue. 
      I hope that the Church can offer support, reassurance and an opportunity for the bereaved to express their genuine feelings with a sense of security  --  a security that we may be able to provide from our conviction that the world is sustained by ultimate Love, the Love that understands what we go through because Jesus shared all our human experiences.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Team Council deliberations

Thursday 10th January 2013
The Team Council has ambitious ideas for a co-ordinated approach to developing the life of the Church and its service to the local communities across this vast wild area.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Weddings and funerals

Tuesday 8th January 2013
The Messy Church collage contributes to symbolic decoration for the Epiphany season
One funeral in a packed Elsdon church, one wedding couple coming for marriage preparation, one family enquiring about the baptism of their baby  --  and meanwhile the story of the Magi (the Wise Men) travelling to visit the Christ child reminds us that the love of God is for people everywhere and always.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Raise the roof

Monday 7th January 2013
Mist between Bellingham and Otterburn
Corsenside churches need to raise money to "raise the roof" since heavyweight tiles have been slipping off All Saints and the windows of St Cuthbert's are loose in their frames!  So the planning committee has swung into action.  2013 will see an enjoyable series of fund-raising events.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Sunday 6th January 2013
Glimpsing the North Tyne through the trees of the Rectory glebe
A revealing sight for 8.15 in the morning of the "Twelfth Day of Christmas".  At Epiphany (6th January) the Church thinks of Christ's birth as as revelation of God's love for the whole world fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah that "Kings shall journey to thy radiance".