Saturday, December 26, 2015

St Stephen's Day

Saturday 26th December 2015
Today's reading at Morning Prayer said that as St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, faced his accusers where he was brought before the  Council, "his face seemed to them like the face of an angel".
     I looked up and saw this depiction of confident serenity:

One of the people working on Christmas day!

Friday 25th December 2015
(The title means me not the teddy.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The respite didn't last long

Tuesday 22nd December 2015

Trusting that the electric fence will protect Molly from the River North Tyne flooding the bottom of the glebe paddock, I spent the day liaising with many different people (readers, musicians et al) over tomorrow's carol service.


Monday, December 21, 2015

A rare pause between storms

Monday 21st December 2015
     No physical rainstorms, storms of activity or other people's storming crises as the sun rises over the North Tyne at 8.40 a.m. after Morning Prayer in church.  I ate a rare uninterrupted bowl of muesli before the pace of the day increased.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas carols

Saturday 19th December 2015
     Today has been preparing for the Thorneyburn Carol Service at St Aidan's on Wednesday (23rd).  Yesterday was the Bellingham (ecumenical) Carol Service at the Methodist United Reformed Church.
Carols at the Calvert Trust, Kielder

Examining the knitted angels that have been distributed around the district to bring different messages of the Good News of God's love for all people.

     In between there have been Carol Services in schools  --  and held in the parish churches for West Woodburn First School, Bellingham First School and Bellingham Middle School, as well as a gathering for all these together with Otterburn First School, Kielder First School and Wark First School at which I enjoyed hearing their different songs and lit their Advent Candles for them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Molly's looking more like herself again

Tuesday 15th December 2015
A pity that my backing away from the horse made me shake the camera!  Anyway, there's a definite difference between now and October:
and riding along to exercise Molly, I met a parishioner running with her dog and was able to make some arrangements with her for next week's Christingle service.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Monday 14th December 2015

     Somehow the donkey got left out when I packed the figures for a visit to the pre-school.  The children had just decided that Mary would get to Bethlehem by going on a donkey; so I had to find one.  There he was in the stable scene.  So I perched Mary on that version of a donkey.  "She's riding the cow as well,"  they said.  "She's just practising in the shed before they go to Bethlehem"  --  and all was well.
     I hope that's not their lifelong picture of the Christmas story.  But it wouldn't really matter, given that St Luke and St Matthew have their own totally different versions!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Going to the source

10th December 2015
The river North Tyne at the bottom of the Rectory glebeland at Bellingham(picture taken in summer when I could get to the river's edge without the recent floods)

     At her inauguration service in two days' time our new bishop wishes to make use of water from the two sources of the River Tyne.  So I set off from Bellingham to drive the 43 miles return from here to the other end of my benefice where the river North Tyne rises.  Quite a quest!  [See page: Going to the Source]

Monday, December 7, 2015

Flooding near Bellingham

Monday 7th December 2015
Parkland not lakeland

St Nicholas' Day

Sunday 6th December 2015

Following the Winchester tradition of a boy bishop taking over the Bishop's duties on the feast day of St Nicholas, patron saint of children, we had a young parishioner leading the Family Service at St Cuthbert's Bellingham.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

No rugby at Tynedale

Saturday 5th December 2015
The Corbridge ground from the train on Sunday

Christmas Tree Festival

Wednesday 2nd December 2015

Ingenious Christmas Trees displayed by the schools

Messy church decorate their Christmas Tree

Tuesday 1st December 2015
Stars, bells and angels ready to go on the tree

Consecration in York

Monday 30th November 2015
A great and solemn celebration in York Minster as the new Bishop of Newcastle was consecrated

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent begins

Sunday 29th November 2015
The first candle of Advent is lit at St Aidan's where sixteen intrepid parishioners made their way through wild evening weather in the wilds of Thorneyburn for the Blessing of the Advent wreath and prayers for all the troubled places and people of the world, that the light of Christ's love may shine in the darkness bringing hope and peace.  (In the morning we had almost been washed away at Bellingham and blown away at Horsley.)

Friday, November 20, 2015

The pace hots up

Friday 20th November 2015

After a visit to Newcastle  yesterday evening for the Law Society's Annual Dinner, I was off up the North Tyne today to see "Father Christmas" arrive from the "North Pole"  --  in a conveyance drawn by real reindeer.  (The reindeer in the picture below is a carved one in the marquee.)

At the beginning of the Kielder Winter Wonderland, we were invited to show a hundred children with their families how to make Christingles.  A Moravian tradition, the "Christingle" (meaning Christ-light) was introduced to England by the Church of England's Children's Society which supports young people through all kinds of troubles.  The Christingle is made of an orange to represent the world, sultanas or sweets on cocktail sticks to represent the fruits of the earth in their four seasons, a central candle for the Light of Christ and a ribbon around the whole to show the love of God embracing the world.
     Then back down the valley to a school Curry Evening.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Messy Church

Sunday 15th November 2015
In the morning services at Bellingham and Falstone we prayed for the people of Paris.  "Messy Church" in the afternoon heard the story of the angels' visits to Mary and Joseph announcing the future birth of Jesus.  So we made tree decorations linked to the theme, starting with angels and adding in stars, bells and abstract creations.  (You'll have to wait for the Christmas Tree Festival in December to admire dozens of them on display.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A break in the rain

Tuesday 10th November 2015
     After taking a school assembly I made a quick visit to Indie to see how she and her big friend were faring in the mud.   Then on to a meeting about other work with children in the deanery, an afternoon writing my contribution for the benefice magazine and an evening Parochial Church Council.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Molly comes home

Saturday 30th October 2015
     After the operation on her foot and five weeks away for  convalescence, Molly is enjoying tidying up the area outside her stable.  (Let's see how long it is before she begins to look like a proper riding horse again.)     For me Saturday means getting ready for Sunday, mostly at my desk.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Today's preoccupations

Tuesday 27th October 2015
Indie has more important things on her mind than paying attention to her new companion, the bull.
I had other important things on my mind, including  a meeting about future events for the under 18's; and sending letters out to invite people to Sunday's evening's All Saints'/All Souls' service when we light candles in memory of people who have died in the last year and others whom we wish to remember.

Monday, October 26, 2015

With the Methodists at Falstone

Monday 26th October 2015
The North Tyne at Falstone as we enjoyed a reflective walk organised by the Methodist Church.
[See more pictures on Events Page]

Dedication Festival

Sunday 25th October 2015
During this Dedication Festival service we lit candles in thanksgiving for all the baptisms, confirmations, weddings, people who had died and everyone who has worshipped in this church for the last thousand years.
     The candles were carried forward by people ranging in age from about ten to eighty, who had been christened, confirmed or married here.
     Next Sunday evening the emphasis will be on the commemoration of the faithful departed and on the future.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Working party

Saturday 24th October 2015
The sun lights the beech tree just before sinking below the horizon as I make my way to Evening Prayer.
No picture of the working party at Falstone because my hands were too occupied with fork, secateurs and bramble-pulling gloves to be able to manage a camera as well; but here's the view after the verge clearance: 

Looking after the flock

Friday 23rd October 2015
There's work for the shepherd in all weathers.  (It applies to the "shepherds of souls" as well as to the farmers.)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Our children can walk

Thursday 22nd October 2015
West Woodburn First School returning to school after Harvest Festival in church

A problem?

Wednesday 21st October 2015
When the air ambulance comes this near to home, it's always hard for the rector (as the parish priest) to decide whether it would be caring or interfering to go and find out who may be in trouble.  I didn't go: I'm sure someone will let me know if anyone would like a visit from me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A lull after Sunday

Monday 19th October 2015

     The first two services of the morning were both in Bellingham: Holy Communion followed by a Family Service including a baptism which was attended by over a hundred people.  They were squashed together in the small church  --  which was lucky as it helped us to keep warm without heating. 
     New health and safety regulations demanded that the church should install a new kind of oil tank; so now there's no money to buy oil for it.  (Much warmer walking in the woods with the dog on Monday!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

One thing leads to another

Tuesday 13th October 2015
Welcome to St Aidan's Thorneyburn
for the school harvest thanksgiving
This year we let the Head teacher ring the bell.
After the service the children walked back the half mile to school whilst I collected a cardboard boxful of produce to take by car to the school for them to parcel up as gifts for housebound neighbours.
     By the time I arrived with the goods, the plan had changed.  Firstly, in view of hardship in the towns, the school suggested sending the tinned and packeted food to a Food Bank.  Secondly, too many gifts, not enough local recipients.  So I would deliver the non-perishables to the Food Bank collection point and take the surplus fresh fruit and vegetables to some other parishioners.  I would return to school in the afternoon after they had sorted everything out.
     Each visit led to something else and eventually I was juggling baptism preparation with harvest visits and invitations to a "taster" evening on our new Pilgrim programme and plans for the next Messy Church.  Before I knew it, I had to hurry to get to Evening Prayer and to the Rectory to write a note which never got done because of the doorbell.  Callers about the Deanery website and readings for Bellingham's Sunday services up to Christmas took us to the evening  --  with some undelivered fruit and an(other)  unwritten letter.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Back to normal life

Tuesday 6th October 2015
The morning in school...

...and taking Holy Communion to a housebound parishioner at home; the afternoon in my study and the evening at a meeting.