Monthly Archives: July 2021

Thought for the week 24th July – Small acts of restraint

Jesus summarised all the teaching in the Old Testament in two commandments; to love God with all our heart and to love others (our “neighbours”) as ourselves. Jesus stretched the boundaries of who we should consider “neighbours” to include those we do not like and by his example, showed us what it means to live for others. We are now faced with decisions that never occurred in Jesus’s day as we move away from the Covid restrictions, particularly on masks and social distancing. I have to say that in recent weeks, I’ve sometimes pushed the boundaries of the law, where I am with people, who like myself, are fully vaccinated. But, much as I dislike masks, I do worry those who are vulnerable but who cannot have the vaccine; masks do not protect the wearer, they do help those around them. Perhaps this prayer, adapted from the Church of England Daily Office, is appropriate.

Lord God, you pour out your love on all humanity. Help us, by small acts of restraint and self-discipline, to share your love amongst all those who we meet. For the sake of your son, who gave himself for us and for others. Amen




Thank you Roy!

Many thanks to Roy, churchwarden from Highley and his colleague for strimming round the north side of the churchyard and clearing some of the jungle to the south. This work is part of the management of the wildlife habitat.

Forest Church in Billingsley

On Wednesday 21st we tried something different, with “Forest Church”. Despite its name, it isn’t held in a forest and it isn’t traditional church; it is aimed at anyone who finds something spiritual in the natural world. We made the most of sunny weather by sitting outside to look at nature in the churchyard.

Thought for the week 16th July – A response to Marcus Rashford

A response to Marcus Rashford.

I solemnly promised that after last week, I would no longer write about the football. However, the news is now all about the (racist) abuse being directed at the three English players who failed to score with their penalties. One of these, Marcus Rashford has released a statement, apologising for his missed penalty, but refusing to apologise for who he is; a black Englishman. I offer the following, from the Church of England daily office by way of support. Psalm 133 is a celebration of unity written by the ancient Hebrews perhaps 3000 years ago; “Aaron” in the psalm was the brother of Moses and chosen to be the first chief priest of the nation of Israel. Hermon is a high mountain to the north of ancient Israel; the writer of the psalm imagines water from this flowing all the way to Jerusalem (Zion in the psalm), fertilising the land. This poetic vision of unity and prosperity would have been sung for centuries in a land where there was neither unity nor prosperity; the prayer below is a contemporary response that we can use in a land where black English footballers are abused for the colour of their skins.


Psalm 133 

Behold how good and pleasant it is to dwell together in unity.

It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard,

Even on Aaron’s beard, running down upon the collar of his clothing.

It is like the dew of Hermon running down upon the hills of Zion.

For there the Lord has promised his blessing: even life for evermore.

Mercy and truth are met together,
righteousness and peace have kissed each other. 

Grant to your people, good Lord,
the spirit of unity,
that they may dwell together in your love,
and so bear to the world
the ointment of your healing and the
dew of your blessing;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Thought for the week 10th July – This Sunday Evening

I promise this is the last thought I will write about football, at least for this month….


By the time you read this, you may already know. Some of you may simply not care. But for those of us who have the affliction of following football, and following England in particular, Sunday evening looms with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Sport can do strange things to your emotions. Some will simply not be able to bring themselves to watch; fear will remove any pleasure. Others will maintain an easy confidence; of course we will win, but I suspect that is a front (or simple over-confidence). Most fans will watch, cheering and groaning at regular intervals. Oh the agony and the ecstasy! I’ve twice seen Kidderminster Harriers lose at Wembley in extra time; unless you have had the pain, you don’t appreciate the glory. At its best, playing or watching competitive sport, you understand passion accepting and embracing life for what it is, but dreaming of what it might ultimately be, always hoping.


Perhaps these thoughts give some insight into parts of the bible? My passion as a football supporter helps me understand some of what St Paul writes, as he describes the agonies and ectasies of his own life as a Christian minister:

“ We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… So we do not lose heart… For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”


So get behind your team and your life.

Thought for the week 3rd July – Signs and symbols

For me it was last summer that it really struck home; watching the international cricketers “taking the knee” before play. This was of course from the “Black lives matter” movement, a gesture that originated in the United States. I had seen it at the protest marches in this country, but seeing it at cricket matches brought home to me how it had captured people’s imagination. Now it occurs at the start of every professional football match in this country and at most games in the Euros. The gesture has not been without controversy but I have to say I find it a useful reminder of our need to stand against acts of injustice, whether deliberate or unintentional. I have to say I find it baffling when teams are booed for the gesture. Symbolic gestures are of course ingrained in the church; perhaps the most familiar is folding hands when praying, something drummed into people of my age at school assemblies. This may have originated as an aid to stop distraction, but it is now recognised as a sign that the person is praying. As with taking the knee, this may or may not be useful. It can be insincere. There is also the potential for embarrassment…. There are photos of myself, taken when I was ordained, where I seem to be sickeningly pious with my hands clasped together. I now cringe when I see them, but they truthfully capture a moment when, for me, it was exactly the right thing to do; the movement spoke more than any words I may or may not have been uttering. This says something important about symbols. Speaking is not the only way of communicating; our movements, kneeling, clasping hands, can be very clear statements about how we feel. We need to be mindful of the effect that they might have on others, just as do with words, but we should not neglect the power of our body language to express our deepest emotions and aspirations.


July Draw of the 100 Club

The July draw took place in glorious sunshine. A third win for Diana whose number was drawn first today winning her £59. Lucky 13 was next to be drawn winning Colin £29.50 and the final ball out of the bag, number 31, made its second appearance having been drawn for the first time last week allowing Richard to take a cheque for £29.50.

Congratulations to all the lucky winners! Thank you to everyone who continue to support the 100 Club.

The August draw will take place on the 6th.