Just as I began to write, Helen drew my attention to a very large cargo ship on the horizon; the play of light on the water was captivating as it moved gently across my field of view. Soon it will be lost to sight.

All this got me thinking about what to say this morning. To be perfectly frank, I’m not certain how this musing is going to turn out! I’ve had in my mind the image of ‘The Light of the World’, by William Holman Hunt, for some days…..

As if by magic…here it is! How clever I am! The original of this painting hangs in the side chapel of the glorious chapel of Keble College, Oxford. I came to faith in my early days at Keble and Holman Hunt’s painting captivated me then, and still does today. Do take a moment to reflect upon it for yourself.

There is an elegant simplicity to what Hunt captured, but that very simplicty draws the eye into the heart of the scene. Simply, the risen Jesus Christ knocking on a door and waiting for a response. Note there is no handle on the outside; the response to the knock relies solely on whoever hears. You, I……anyone. The handle is in the control of the one on the other side.

There is no coercion. But hear these words of Jesus from the Book of Revelation…’Behold, I stand at the door and knock…’, and from the gospel of John, Jesus again..’I am the light of the world…whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.’

I don’t need to say any more. I simply thank William Holman Hunt. I thank God for you as you read these words in this difficult time.


Thank you for taking time to read what follows. My apologies for the delay in composing another post, but the muse had somewhat deserted me, until I took a walk, yesterday, along the sea shore near my home.

The photograph was taken as the ebb tide revealed what remains of the stump of a tree; around 7,000 years old. This ancient forest is being eroded very quickly as sea levels rise. Incredibly, the footprints of adults and children who lived during this period, have been found imprinted in the ancient forest floor.

They were human, like us. They had hopes, fears, dreams and their own undetstanding of their world and their place in it. As an avid fan of Time Team, I remember well the excavation of a burial of cremated remains placed in a clay beaker, which was eroding from the cliffs at Hauxley. What religious rituals they developed are lost to us, but they clearly reverenced their dead and ritualised their passing.

I ask myself the question, what actually is the difference between them and us? In the middle of the uncertainty of our present days, we question and try to make sense. We fear, we worry, we look for certainty and a framework of understanding. Often, I feel myself standing in a void of silence.

Just at this moment, as I was working out what I wanted to say next, up popped some words from Psalm 46, verse 10; ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ A very simple phrase, but profound in its reach. How you understand those words are unique to you, and I am glad about that! Because you are unique, as those were who lived 7000 years ago on the Northumberalnd coast. We have a connection!

Take time each day, just to reflect on those words of the Psalmist. Have a moment of stillness, even in the press of thoughts! If you’re not convinced, remember the words of the closing verse of the hymn, ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.’; …’Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire, O still small voice of calm….’

May the blessings of the still small voice of calm be with you and with those who you love and remember, now and every moment of the days ahead.

The Day After

Lord, it’s the day after Easter Day,

And I’m lost.

Waiting, expecting, perhaps longing

For something to happen; break in to my consciousness and give me faith or something, to connect me…to you….Risen from the dead.

I’m outside of my comfort zone in these Coronavirus days and making sense is mind blowing. Praying, hoping, bearing, holding…silence…unnerving and unerring.

Lord Jesus ….leaving the disciples for a week after showing up on Easter Sunday; Thomas missed the show and was left to wait; angered, adrift, let down. I identify with him; and the waiting is unbearable.

I don’t always know what I want; unerring certainty, some kind of proof, a still small voice, a shivery spine, an overwhelming vision. I’m human, God made, complex, but longing for simplicity.

In this aftershock of resurrection I only wish to hear something from you; not even a call…something far deeper, to connect me with you, if it’s not too much trouble. Thanks in anticipation.

Good Friday Reflection

Good Friday seems to me, like a moment when I should be silent. Anything I could say might seem crass, or words for the sake of words. There’s a hymn by Isaac Watts; ‘When I survey the wondrous Cross’, written nearly 300 years ago. It’s always been there or there abouts in my conscious and subconscious mind.

Often, throughout my life I’ve heard it playing, particularly in difficult moments and times of trial or uncertainty. It’s a kind of anchor, blessing, guide or guiding star in what can seem like dark days. I have suffered from intense bouts of depression throughout my life and so often Isaac Watts’ words have reached out to me, because they describe a profound reality which is sometimes just out of reach, but closer than I might understand at that precise moment.

Just hear the words of the opening verse; ‘When I survey the wondrous cross, On which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride’. Curious words on one level, but they search my soul, each time I hear them. For Watts describes the human condition perfectly and our need to be open to the boundless love of God, revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As you read or hear these words, you may be struggling, physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally. Perhaps all together! I have no simple answer to what is happening to you, as I have no simple answers for myself! But this is where dear old Isaac steps in, inviting us to reflect on the depth of God’s love for you, me, all people. The news should be proclaimed from the rooftops, but in a virtual sense, please! That simple last sentence…’and pour contempt on all my pride’ speaks of the trap that I fall into, which is a pride that focusses on the negative, in myself and others. It will be different for each of you. Perhaps take a moment between now and Sunday to reflect on this for yourself.

I just want to move our focus onto the fourth and final verse of this great hymn…here it is; ‘Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small, love so amazing so divine, demands my soul my life my all.’ That’s it, in a nutshell!!!

As a new undergraduate I went to hear Revd. David Watson, at the Oxford Union. I was struggling with lots of things but at one point I became overwhelmed with the love and presence of God and God’s Spirit spoke peace into my heart, through David’s words. It was a seminal moment and I can still fell the intensity and shed tears as I speak to you now, 45 years later!

Replay those words of Isaac Watts in your own consciousness…write them down, stick them up somewhere, ponder them, be assured. God is not far off, unable to understand the human condition, or what we are going though at this moment. He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves and through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, shows profound understanding and identification with each of us.

Just to end, just a reminder of the words of the third verse; ’See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down, did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown.’

Just know, on this Good Friday, even in the midst of all that goes on in your life, family, friends, wider community and world, that God is with us and understands us completely