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20 04, 2017

Life after Death

April 20th, 2017|

What happens to us when we die? It would be easy to give the smart answer, ‘I don’t know. I have never died before and no-one who has ever died has told me’. But actually we do know something. Many who maintain that there is life after death believe that our bodies die but it is our souls that live on. The body is just a container of the really important part of us which is our soul. Death, then, is actually a release, as though the door of the cage were opened to let the bird fly away into [...]

18 04, 2017

New Life, New Hope

April 18th, 2017|

Moving in to our new home as we did in the depth of last winter, I am discovering only by degrees what our new garden has to offer.   As the seasons have changed, there have been ever new delights.  Alongside the expected spring bulbs are other more exotic plants, the naming of which is way beyond my limited horticultural knowledge.  Gardening, therefore, has to be for me a careful balance between making plans and forming projects on the one hand, and on the other, patient watching and waiting. In my experience, spiritual growth, like that of a garden, needs a [...]

6 04, 2017

“It was only banter”

April 6th, 2017|

“It was only banter.” But a teenager has taken his or her own life, and it’s something to do with the way this ‘banter’ has undermined them, hurt them, made them nothing, despised. “It was only a bit of banter.” We don’t always know the effects of our actions on others. Sometimes those effects can be far more profound, more hurtful than we ever dreamed.  What one person considers just a bit of banter, not intended to hurt, does in fact hurt, and more deeply than anyone had imagined.  Sometimes, when we think what we do is harmless, the effect [...]

30 03, 2017

People who live in glass houses

March 30th, 2017|

After years of living in Harrogate, the time has come to move house and we have chosen a village in Nidderdale called Glasshouses. Apparently the name originated in medieval times when the area provided materials for manufacturing glass that was required for installation at nearby Fountains Abbey.  Just to finish off the blend of history and geography, a short distance from Glasshouses is Smelthouses where local ore was smelted to produce lead required that pieced together the stained glass in the windows. Ever since I have been telling friends we shall be living in Glasshouses, they inevitably come back with [...]

27 03, 2017

New Life and Fresh Hope

March 27th, 2017|

Many see the Church and Christianity as irrelevant. There is no doubt that the Church does not always keep up with the things that people think are important. However in this season of Lent, there is much that the Church and Jesus can teach us that can bring light and hope to our lives. On Mothering Sunday, people used to travel back to their Mother Church, and celebrate it being the centre of their community and the centre of their lives. On this day, many mothers will be swamped with chocolates; restaurants will be full of families giving their mother [...]

20 03, 2017

The Season of Lent

March 20th, 2017|

Once a month the United Reformed Church in Burley-in-Wharfedale becomes a cinema for the community and recently our film was ‘Eddie the Eagle’. Eddie Edwards famously came 73rd out of 73 competitors in the Ski Jump at the 1988 Winter Olympics held in Calgary.  I remember this event because at the time Eddie’s failure caused a media sensation but as the film progressed we saw that he was anything but a failure.  Eddie Edwards had a dream and he gave his all to achieving that dream.  He competed in the Winter Olympics because he had determination, commitment, courage and, seemingly [...]

6 03, 2017

Time flies like an arrow …

March 6th, 2017|

Recently I was driving back to the synod office from the Bradford direction when I saw these words painted on a roadside fence: ‘Time is precious, so use it wisely.’ At least, that’s what I think it said … I was in too much of a hurry to take much notice! Time … it’s an amazing thing. We take it, give it, waste it, spend it, have none of it, have plenty of it, beat it, set it, mark it, manage it – or try to!  For those of a more scientific persuasion we measure it in anything from milliseconds [...]

13 02, 2017


February 13th, 2017|

I recently found myself listening to the Hull boxer Tommy Coyle. I have to confess boxing is not a sport about which I know anything yet he had some compelling things to say.  He was speaking to a group of year 11 students who were about to receive their GCSE mock exam results.  He asked the students to be absolutely still for 10 seconds.  It doesn't sound long but this was a room full of teenagers.  They were silent and still for the time.  He then explained to them how those 10 seconds were gone.  No matter how wealthy or [...]

10 01, 2017

Racial Justice Sunday

January 10th, 2017|

Many people in our congregations may not be aware that within the United Reformed Church and Churches Together Britain and Ireland, the 2nd Sunday of September was allocated as Racial Justice Sunday. For those who have marked this day, the recent changes may have come as a surprise or seen as an opportunity to review how the elements of Racial Justice can be incorporated in worship. What is Racial Justice Sunday? The day offers an opportunity for Christians to focus their worship, prayer and actions on racial justice by raising concerns / issues but also celebrating the diversity in our [...]

12 12, 2016

God’s Sat-nav

December 12th, 2016|

Preparing last Sunday’s sermon, I faced a challenge. How to find something new to say about John the Baptist. What new thing could I say about such a well-known bible passage? Then … a revelation. It’s not about finding a new thing to say. It’s about coming back again and again, to hear the same old message – though perhaps presented in a different way. John the Baptist is a bit like a sat-nav. Sometimes we divert from the route the sat-nav gives us. Maybe we deliberately turn off the route because we think we know a better way. Maybe [...]