Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

During the Church of England’s service for Ash Wednesday, there is a moment in the liturgy where people are encouraged to receive ‘the imposition of ashes’ – the sign of the cross in ash on their foreheads – and as they do so, the following words are said to them: ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.’

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent – a season of penitence and of self-discipline – a time of preparation for Holy Week and for Easter. For many people, this time of year is associated with ‘giving things up’ – a chance, perhaps, to take up again those resolutions that we made at the start of the year in January and which have already fallen by the wayside!

However as the words from the Ash Wednesday service, make clear, Lent is, I believe, about more than ‘giving things up’. For me, it is actually about reflecting upon our lives and upon what gives them meaning and value; it is an opportunity to think about our priorities, about what matters most to us; and to try to find a way to make the most of the life which has been gifted to us. The words, ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return’, are words which remind us of our mortality; that none of us will live forever; and so our time on earth should be a time when we seek to live life in all its fullness – a fullness which, Christians believe, can only be found in God and in Jesus Christ.

If all of this seems rather sombre and daunting, let me recommend to you a campaign which will be launched this Lent by the Church of England. It follows on from a similar campaign from Advent which was entitled #GodWithUs. This new campaign for Lent is called #LiveLent – Let Your Light Shine. It offers a short Bible reading and reflection for each day of Lent and its aim is to help people address two questions: (1) ‘How can I receive God’s life more fully?’          (2) How can I live God’s life more generously, imaginatively and joyfully, in such a way that others can see it, hear it and take hold of it themselves?’

You can buy the book or receive the daily reflections by mobile phone, email or through the #LiveLent app. For further details, visit the Church of England’s web-site:

If daily reflections are not your preferred way of marking Lent, we are also running a five week Lent course – Exploring The Void. This is based upon the film, ‘Touching The Void’ – a true-life story of two mountain climbers’ fight for survival when disaster strikes during an expedition in the Andes. Everyone is very welcome to come to this course which begins on Tuesday 27th February. For further details, see our Facebook page:

We will also, of course, be holding our own Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday 14th February at 7.30 pm.

However you choose to mark it, may I wish you a holy and meaningful Lent.


Revd. Helen Duckett.

Mission Action Plan

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

The beginning of a new year is a time for looking forward and at Furzebank Worship Centre we will be spending January, February and March thinking about the future ministry and mission of our church and our vision and priorities for the next three years.

All churches in the Diocese of Lichfield are encouraged to formulate a Mission Action Plan (M.A.P.) – an outline of the direction in which they feel their congregation is being led by God and a summary of the actions and plans they feel God is calling them to develop and to put in place. The idea is that congregations focus on their worship, spiritual growth and pastoral care of one another and also on their outreach and mission to the wider community. The emphasis is on everyone from the church coming together to think and to pray about their M.A.P. and to work together to create a vision for the future – not just the vicar and members of the church council. Everyone is part of the church and therefore everyone should be involved in its’ future…

At Furzebank Worship Centre, this coming together and consulting with one another has been our practice for many years; and so as we begin the process of discernment and guidance yet again, I would encourage us all to think deeply and prayerfully about where God may be calling us and about God’s priorities for us and for the area we are called to serve.

To help us in this process, we have a number of important discussions and meetings taking place:

Firstly, from 9th January to 13th February, we will be holding an extended Prayer Group every Tuesday in the Worship Centre – beginning at our usual time of 7.00 pm but continuing until 7.45 pm.

During the Sunday morning services on 14th January, 28th January and 11th February, we will use the ‘sermon slot’ as a time for discussion and a sharing of ideas.

On Sunday 21st January, Libby Leech from the Diocese’s ‘Reaching New Generations’ Team will be coming to preach and to help us think about how we can build on our existing work with children and their families.

On Thursday 8th February and Thursday 15th February, there will be open meetings of the District Church Council to which everyone is welcome as take the ideas gathered from the Sunday morning discussions and begin to put out M.A.P. together.

A draft M.A.P. will be presented to the congregation on Sunday 4th March for comment.

On Thursday 8th March, a completed and finalised M.A.P. will be agreed at the District Church Council Meeting before being formally presented at the Annual General Meeting on 22nd March.


As you can see from this time-table, there is a lot of work to be done; but at the Church Council, we have agreed that we need to be as thorough and as wide-ranging in our discussions as possible so that as many people as possible can take part and their voices can be heard.

And, of course, underlying everything must be prayer. For it is God’s plans and priorities for Furzebank that we need to try and understand – not ours.

So as we enter into this new year and into this time of discernment for our church, can I encourage you to come along to the different meetings and discussions and be a part of what is going on; and can I ask you all for your prayers for us all as we seek God’s will and God’s purposes for Furzebank Worship Centre.


A Mission Action Planning Prayer

God of Mission
who alone brings growth to your Church
send your Holy Spirit to give
vision to our planning
wisdom to our actions
and power to our witness.
Help your church to grow
in numbers
in spiritual commitment to you
and in service to your world
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Published by the Diocese of Sheffield and adapted from a Leading Your Church into Growth Collect for From Evidence to Action Conference.


Revd. Helen Duckett.

Getting Ready for Christmas

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

When does Christmas begin for you? For many people, it has traditionally been the moment they put up their Christmas tree or write their first card or buy and wrap the first Christmas present.  However, in the last few years, the beginning of Christmas has, in the eyes of many people in this country, been linked to advertising and the media and especially to the launch of the John Lewis Christmas advert! This year’s is no exception and features Moz the monster who lives under a little boy’s bed – although, according to some people, it has been given a run for its money by the M & S advert starring Paddington Bear!


Advent is the name given to the four-week period before 25th December when Christians prepare to celebrate Christmas; and despite all the frantic rushing around that we all get caught up in, Advent, as a season, points to a different kind of preparation, a different kind of getting ready. It is about an inner preparation – a preparation of the heart and mind – a time for quiet, space, reflection, prayer and waiting – a spiritual preparation for Christians, as they prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus – the true meaning of their Christmas celebrations. That is why, Furzebank Worship Centre and Holy Trinity Church are organising a Quiet Morning as a way of helping us enter into this aspect of Advent. It will be taking place on Saturday 2nd December, 10.00 am – 12.00 noon, at Holy Trinity Church. Everyone is very welcome and further details can be found on our Facebook page.


If quiet mornings are not your thing, then you might find the new campaign by the Church of England useful. Entitled, #GodWithUs, it features regular texts and emails which you can receive throughout Advent as a way of helping you to pray and reflect. More information can be found on the website:

The Church of England’s campaign reflects the fact that the constant refrain of Christmas in all the carols and Bible readings that we sing and hear at this time of year, is that ‘God Is With Us’. In Jesus, Christians believe, God becomes human and enters into our world, and takes on all the joy and the pain, the happiness and the sorrow, the laughter and the tears that life can bring; and therefore, in Jesus, we see a God who is not removed from us or from our lives but a God who gets stuck in; a God who is right in the middle of all that is going on; a God offering us peace, strength, courage, forgiveness, love – wherever we are and whatever situations we may find ourselves in.


So however you prepare to celebrate Christmas, may I wish you and your loved ones a happy and holy season and may the joy and peace of God be with you.


Friday, October 6th, 2017

These past few weeks have seen the news headlines dominated by stories of people’s lives being completely devastated and overwhelmed by the different natural disasters which have occurred throughout our world: The flooding in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Texas; Hurricanes Irma and Maria which have swept across the Caribbean; and the earthquakes in Mexico. At least 1,200 people have lost their lives in Asia alone and millions have been left homeless.
When we see the pictures of these natural disasters on our T.V. screens, or read about them in the newspapers, our hearts go out to all those ordinary women, men and children, people like you and me, who have been caught up in events which are completely out of their control; who have lost so much and who are struggling to see any hope for their future. We are also reminded once more, of our common human frailty and vulnerability in the face of such huge forces of nature; and of the difficult and shameful fact that when faced with such forces, it is often the weakest, the poorest, the most marginalised in our world, who suffer the most.
Such an awareness provides us perhaps with a perspective from which to approach our Harvest celebrations for this year. In common with many churches and schools throughout the country, this time of year, as we enter into Autumn, marks the season for Harvest; and at Furzebank we will be holding our Harvest Festival Service on Sunday 8th October at 11.00 am.
Harvest is a festival in which we celebrate the beauty and wonder of creation; in which we give thanks to God for all the blessings and gifts we receive from our world; and in which we commit ourselves, once more, to being good stewards of our planet Earth – treasuring our environment and working for a just and fair distribution of all the world’s resources amongst all its peoples. It is also a festival in which we acknowledge that even in our 21st century technologically advanced society, we are not as in control as we like to think we are; that we are creatures who inhabit our planet alongside all the other wondrous and diverse creatures and species which God has made; that we owe our existence to each other and to our Creator; and that our lives are completely inter-dependent and reliant upon our relationships with the rest of the natural world.
That is why in our Harvest Festival at Furzebank, we will worship God and celebrate alongside one another; and we will also come bringing our own gifts of food to share with those people in our community who need it at this time – all donations given at our service will go to the Black Country Foodbank based at the Bridging the Gap Shop in Willenhall. Our ‘Black Country’ Harvest Supper Evening on Saturday 14th October will likewise be an evening of fun – singing and a fish and chip supper – but will also be an occasion for raising funds for the Bridging the Gap Shop itself – a reflection that Harvest is always about celebration AND sharing; about receiving AND giving.
For further details about our Harvest Service and Harvest Supper, please go onto our Facebook page – everyone is welcome as we give thanks to God for all God’s blessings and goodness; and as we seek to share those blessings with others. In the words of one of the Church of England’s prayers of blessing for Harvest:
May God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is the source of all goodness and growth,
pour his blessing upon all things created,
and upon you his children,
that you may use his gifts to the glory and the welfare of all peoples…

Summer Holidays

Monday, July 10th, 2017

As I write this it is the morning of the Fourth Round of Wimbledon and at the moment we still have two Brits in the running for the title – Andy Murray and Jo Konta – I thought I would write this now, not later on in the tournament – there’s no point in tempting fate!

Tennis is one of the few sports which I enjoy watching; and Wimbledon, is, for me, one of those events which marks the official arrival of the summer season. We’ve been blessed this year with particularly lovely weather and it has been wonderful to be outside and to enjoy the sun; and, in common, with many people who work and study at school and college, I am also on the countdown to the six week school holiday – only nine more ‘get-ups’ to go!

I remember when I was a child that the school summer holidays seemed incredibly endless – amazingly, the days seemed to stretch out and to go on and on – a time of lazing around and enjoying not having particularly much to do. Now I’m a grown-up and have to do lots of other things to fill my time – not least, my work at Furzebank – the six week stretch seems to fly by and to be almost over as soon as it’s begun! However, I am fortunate in that I will be having some time off with my family and the chance to go on holiday and to get away from it all. These opportunities are really important – to be able to spend quality moments with Keith, Charlotte and Louis; for us all to be able to relax away from all the pressures of work and of school; and to be able to enjoy one another’s company without the demands of work and study hanging over all the time.


Whether we go away on holiday or simply enjoy time relaxing at home, it is important for our mental and physical health to have times of rest and relaxation. It is also, I believe, important for our spiritual health as well. In the recent Soul Spark Course that some of us have been undertaking at Furzebank, we have talked a lot about the important of making time to be still and to reflect, and of making space for God and listening for God’s voice. In the busyness of our daily lives, the still, small voice of God can often be drowned out; and it is often when we are on holiday and enjoying a break, that God is finally able to get a word in edgeways and we can benefit from more time to pray and read the Bible and to focus on God’s love and desire for us to experience life in all its fullness.


During his earthly ministry, Jesus made it a priority to escape the demands of the crowds – even the demands of his own disciples – and sought out places of quiet where he could pray and be alone with God. The Gospels are full of verses describing Jesus doing this; and if he, the Son of God, needed opportunities for prayer and rest, how much more do we!


So whatever you are doing this Summer – whether you are going away or enjoying time at home; let us pray that each one of us will be able to find moments to be still, to be peaceful and to listen to God’s voice of love speaking to us and surrounding us with kindness, mercy and grace.


Wishing you all ‘A Very Happy Summer Holiday!’


Revd. Helen Duckett.

A message for Pentecost

Friday, May 19th, 2017

On Sunday 4th June, Christians all over the world will be celebrating the festival of Pentecost. It occurs fifty days after Easter Day and is a time when we recall the story in the Acts of the Apostles of the Holy Spirit descending on the disciples following the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus; the birth of the early church; and the beginning of the good news of the gospel being proclaimed to the world.


Following on from last year’s initiative, the Archbishop of Canterbury has once more called on congregations across England and throughout the Anglican Communion to mark Pentecost by committing to focus particularly on prayer – an initiative entitled, “Thy Kingdom Come”. Christians are being asked to particularly pray for any individuals they may know whom they would like to come to faith; and in our Benefice, we are responding to the call by leading a six week short course written by Nick Helm on spirituality and different ways of praying – “Soul Spark”. Many Christians, including me, would say that they often struggle with prayer – especially personal prayer. The aim of “Soul Spark” is to introduce people to different styles and forms of prayer in the hope that they might find something helpful which they can take back with them into their daily lives.


The outline of the course is as follows:

Session One – Approaching Spirituality – an introduction to the course and to its experiential approach.

Session Two – Getting To Know God Better – exploring the journey of faith and our developing relationship with God.

Session Three – Who Am I? – focusing on our identity in God.

Session Four – Who Is God To Me? – paying attention to the reality of God’s grace at work in our lives.

Session Five – Called To Become – thinking about discernment and how we make right choices.

Session Six – Where Am I Going? – spiritual resources for continuing along the road of the journey of life.


“Soul Spark” will start in the week beginning 5th June and will be held at Holy Trinity on Tuesday afternoons; at Furzebank Worship Centre on Tuesday evening; and at Emmanuel, Bentley on Thursday afternoons.


Everyone is welcome, and don’t worry if you haven’t done this sort of our course before – when it comes to prayer, we are all ‘amateurs’ and can all learn from each other!


A Prayer For Pentecost – taken from Common Worship:


O Holy Spirit, sent by the Father,

ignite in us your holy fire;

revive your Church with the breath of love,

and renew the face of the earth,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Revd. Helen Duckett



Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to plant a sunflower seed and to grow a sunflower – it’s the kind of thing that’s often done in primary schools where children have a competition to see who has grown the tallest flower and bring photographs in of the evidence to show to their teacher and class-mates.

Well if you have ever planted a sunflower seed you will know that the best way is to plant the seed into a small pot; and that when the sunflower seed is first put into the pot, it is pretty small and vulnerable. You cover it over with soil and when you look at it, there is, at first, nothing to see at all – just a pot with some soil in it. It looks, to all intents and purposes, as if it is dead – as if there is no life at all.

However, of course, those scientists among you will know that although the pot looks pretty life-less to begin with; underneath, at the bottom of the soil, there is a lot going on. The seed is not dead – it is actually be very much alive – changing and growing – slowly, gradually, almost invisibly – life is coming forth; and, eventually, a tiny stem emerges – still small, still fragile, still vulnerable – but new life nonetheless.

As the seed continues to grow; so the stem grows taller and stronger; and eventually the seed and its shoots are moved from the pot and planted into the ground; and after some considerable amount of time, the seed and the stem eventually become a sunflower – a flower that can become so big that, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the tallest sunflower ever grown reached 9.17 metres – grown in 2014 by Hans-Peter Schiffer in Germany!

So, from the small pot – a pot appearing to contain nothing more than soil; a pot where everything seems barren and dead; new life, new hope emerges.

Once the seed has become a sunflower; it contains in its centre, lots of new seeds which often are blown to the ground, or carried and then dropped by birds, or are planted by us, and these seeds grow yet more sunflowers.  Thus begins the cycle of death and re-birth – death and re-birth – again and again and again; and of course, this cycle isn’t limited to sunflowers alone – it is to be found with all plants, flowers and trees…

Now in some parts of the Christian Church, when people speak about Jesus’ cross – the cross on which he was crucified, they call it The Tree of Life; and they do this because in the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection – the story of Good Friday and Easter Day – Christians believe that the pattern of death and re-birth is being played out on a huge, incredible, cosmic level…

Jesus’ pain and suffering and death on the cross, reveal for Christians, a God who enters into human pain and suffering and death; and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, reveals a God who can bring new life and new joy – even from beyond the grave. What this means for Christians is that there is always hope; hope, that no matter how horrible and painful and tragic life can be at times, pain, and sickness, and suffering and even death are not the end – they will never, ever, have the final say. In the cross and resurrection of Jesus, Christians believe that we see a God who is right there with us – right there in the suffering and the pain; but also a God who can raise us up out of that suffering; raise us up out of the pain; and can bring us new life, new hope, a new future…


The God who raised Jesus from the dead, is for me, personally as a Christian, the same God who is at work in my life, in the lives of the people I love, in the lives of you all, in the life of the world – and the resurrection and new life which God can bring is, I believe, offered to each one of us as a hope for the future and the possibility of a brighter tomorrow.

So whatever you do this holiday, may I wish you and your loved ones a blessed Holy Week and Easter; and may Christ, who out of defeat brings new hope and a new future, fill you with his new life.

Revd. Helen Duckett

Springtime and Lent

Friday, February 17th, 2017

As I write this blog, the first signs of Spring seem to be tentatively approaching despite the lingering cold and frost – the mornings are gradually getting brighter and the day-light hours longer. On the days when I work at The King’s School, I am now leaving my house in the light and returning in the light. The snowdrops have appeared in our front garden; and one of our trees already has buds – waiting to burst into glorious blossom.

It is at this time of year, that we begin to leave all thoughts of Winter behind with its festivals of Christmas and Epiphany and focus our attention forward. Ash Wednesday this year is on 1st March and it marks, of course, the beginning of Lent and forty days of reflection, self-examination and repentance as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the most profound and significant time in the Church’s year – Holy Week and Easter.

For many people, Lent is a time for ‘giving something up’ – a second chance to attempt once more all those New Year’s resolutions which we so eagerly made on 1st January and which we have so readily abandoned by 31st January! I know a lot of folk who mark Lent in this way and most of them would not necessarily identify themselves as Christians.  However, whilst abstinence and self-denial can be extremely beneficial for our physical and mental health, and is undoubtedly a part of Christian spirituality and practice; for those of us who do follow Christ, Lent is also about more than ‘giving something up’. Because for Christians, Lent is about entering with Jesus into the wilderness, spending time in prayer, setting aside moments for study and contemplation – confronting with Christ the trials and temptations that beset us both within and without; coming face to face with God and with ourselves; seeing, and not flinching from, the reality of both good and evil in our own lives and in the wider world; repenting of our own failures short-comings, of those instances when we have sinned both individually and corporately; and receiving God’s forgiveness, mercy, grace and love.

Lent is a time for our spirituality to develop; an opportunity for us to grow more fully into the likeness and fullness of Christ; a season for ‘taking on’ extra faith commitments as well as for ‘giving something up’. That is why at Furzebank, we will be holding a special Ash Wednesday service at 7.30pm to prepare ourselves spiritually as we enter into the season. We will also be holding our Lent Study Group as usual – working through a course written by Hilary Brand entitled The Mystery of Everything.  It focuses upon the ways in which the mysteries and complexities of life, and the acceptance that there are no easy answers, can help to enable and grow our faith, and can lead us on in our spiritual journies. The course will be held in the Worship Centre on Tuesday evenings at 7.30pm and will begin on 7th March. However this year, the Course will also be taking place at other days and times throughout the Benefice. Groups will be held at Emmanuel on Tuesday evenings at 6.30pm and on Thursday afternoons at 1.30pm; and at Holy Trinity on Tuesday afternoons at 2.00pm. Folk are welcome to move across the churches and to meet new people; and if you miss a session, you can hopefully catch-up elsewhere!

If Study Groups are not your thing and you wish to develop your faith in a more practical and ‘hands-on’ way, you may find the on-line material produced by the group 40acts to be particularly helpful. 40acts is a national Christian movement and their aim is to encourage Christians to live lives of generosity – by seeking ways to do good for others, giving back to the world with small acts of kindness, and sharing God’s love and grace. Throughout Lent, they provide daily challenges which you can undertake on your own, as a family, at church, at work or at school. I have used their resources with students and staff at The King’s, and also in my personal discipleship, and I would highly recommend them. Their web-site is to be found at: – why not check it out!

However we choose to spend Lent, may it be for us all a season of growth, of spiritual refreshment and renewal, of setting time aside to reflect on what really matters in faith and in life, and of committing ourselves, once more, to following Christ on his journey to the cross and to the resurrection glory of Easter Day.


February 2017

Revd. Helen Duckett writes…

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Hello Everyone! This is my first blog as the new Vicar at Furzebank.  I was licensed on 28th November and I am very grateful for the warm welcome which my family and I have received from you all. (Some of you, of course, know Keith, my husband from when he was the Curate here.) The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirl-wind with all the Christmas services and events taking place; and I must admit that I am looking forward to January and to settling into a bit more of a routine.

The Vicar’s post at Furzebank is now a part-time role (0.5) and I will be combining it with another part-time job which I already have – working as the Chaplain at The King’s Church of England School in Wolverhampton. It may take a little while to get into a regular working-pattern so please bear with me; but one aim of mine is to try and make Wednesdays a day when I will be based in the Worship Centre; so if you ever do need to find me, feel free to pop by. You can also telephone or email me at other times – my details are in the contacts section of the website.

As we enter into 2017 and all the joys and challenges that the next twelve months will bring, many people, I think, will be glad to see an end to 2016. The past year seems to have been a particularly tumultuous one. There have been the hard, difficult, news stories such as the on-going conflicts in Syria and Iraq, with no seeming end in sight, which is still leading to the migration of hundreds and thousands of refugees. Then there have been the shock election results of ‘Brexit’ and of Donald Trump – whatever your opinion is on these events, there is no denying that the results were unexpected and many people have been left uncertain and anxious as to what they might mean for our own country and for the wider world. There have also been the deaths of many celebrities – famous and influential people like David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Prince, Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan, Caroline Ahern, Alan Rickman; and just in the last few days, George Michael and Carrie Fisher.  However, in this topsy-turvy year, there have also been some good news stories as well – the success of Team GB at the Olympic and Paralympic Games was inspirational; as was Leicester City winning the Premier League; Andy Murray winning Wimbledon again and becoming World Number One; and Ore Oduba winning Strictly Come Dancing !

It is into a tumultuous, topsy-turvy world like this that Jesus Christ was born just over 2000 years ago. Jesus’ country, Israel, was being occupied by a foreign power – the Roman Empire, brutal and ruthless, who had no qualms about executing and torturing anyone who opposed them; and Jesus and his fellow Jews would also have had severe restrictions placed on their religious and social practices.  Jesus was born into this world; and for Christians, this fact says something incredibly significant and profound about God and about us. For Christians, Jesus is not just a great religious leader, or a spiritual guru, or a wise teacher. Rather, Jesus is ‘Emmanuel’ – ‘God with us’ – the one who shows us what God is like. In Jesus, God becomes human and enters into our world, and takes on all the joy and the pain, the happiness and the sorrow, the laughter and the tears that life can bring. Christians believe that in Jesus, we see a God who is not removed from us or from our lives but a God who gets stuck in; a God who is right in the middle of all that is going on; a God offering us peace, strength, courage, forgiveness, love – wherever we are and whatever situations we may find ourselves in.

It is this wonder and this mystery of the Incarnation that we have just been celebrating over Christmas. However, the belief that Jesus is ‘Emmanuel’ is not limited to 25th December. Rather, the message of Christmas is a message that is intended to be with us every day, every week, every month – throughout the whole of 2017 and beyond! God is with us – wherever we are, whatever situation we find ourselves in, whatever life throws at us; and it is perhaps by trusting in this message that we can find faith, hope and peace as we enter into the New Year.

For me, nowhere is this belief encapsulated more than in the words of the poem “The Gate of the Year” written by Minnie Lousie Haskins (1875-1957) and quoted by King George VI in his Christmas broadcast of 1939:


And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”


And he replied:

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”


So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.


As we all enter into 2017, we pray for God’s peace and presence to rest upon us, upon our loved ones, and upon our tumultuous and topsy-turvy world.

Christmas is coming …

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

After the school nativity plays have finished, the candles have been blown out at church carol services, gifts and cards have been exchanged and the shepherds and Kings have been welcomed to the stable, there is an often neglected part to the Christmas story. The escape to Egypt.

The story is of Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus escaping persecution by travelling to Egypt, a journey of many hundreds of miles. They did this because Herod, the ‘King’ of Judea had vowed to find the baby and kill him. Joseph had received a warning from an angel in a dream that Herod was looking for Jesus.

Their journey must have been miserable. It was winter and desert nights are cold. The family wouldn’t be able to take much with them in the way of provisions, they were on a donkey. Mary had recently delivered her baby, no health visitors and post-natal care in those days!

The journey through a strange land would have brought challenges and blessings. They would have been challenged by the different language, customs and food. Perhaps some were hostile to these ‘refugees’, maybe they found many blessings in hospitality from people who having little themselves. On arrival Joseph would have needed to find work to provide food and shelter for his family.

We are experiencing the biggest refugee crisis since the second world war, hundreds of thousands of people are displaced from their home environment because of persecution or war. At the October United Praise service we reflected on the plight of refugees. They face many dangers on the journey and on arrival often face persecution.

The Christmas story is often portrayed as ‘otherworldly’, the stuff of Christmas biscuit tin artwork, but the exile of the Holy Family is a stark reminder that some people face a very different Christmas and winter to ourselves, sometimes the Bible speaks with such a loud voice into our society….

The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness

a light has dawned.

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace

there will be no end.

Isaiah. 9. 2, 6,7


Christmas blessings to you.

Rev John Deakin 2016