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January letter

Dear everyone
As a schoolboy I played in a small school orchestra, As a beginner on the violin, I played the second fiddle part.
Life often begins like that . We are rarely chosen to be leaders at the beginning, but we need to learn how to do things properly first!
We may find ourselves playing in a secondary role for a very long time, but we have to remember that every role that we undertake can be important. There are always situations where someone has to fill a ‘back-up’ role or called upon to suddenly fulfil a leadership gap. Many have been brought into a lead role like that. For some it comes at a very late age, although management today often calls younger people into management responsibilities. We may surprise people what we are able to do later in our lives, but there does have to be an attitude of mind all the way through that encourages us to discover the most useful roles we can fulfil in the world and in the process we all need to us discover what humility is all about.
John Bunyan who wrote the book Pilgrims Progress,in one of his hymns wrote this.
‘He that is down needs fear no fall, he that is low no pride; he that is humble ever shall have God to be his guide.’
No one should be excluded from finding a role that is of service to others. We should all be willing to work from humble beginnings.
Megan Rapino, named as Guardian footballer of the year felt that her global exposure and success had only been made possible by the supportive teamwork of her colleagues. She went on to say however that in a wider sphere too that ‘everyone has a responsibility to make the world a better place.’
May her words as an outstanding sportswoman ring home, not only in sport but by people in all kinds of circumstances and lifestyles.
May God’s blessing be with us in this New Year as we persevere in our tasks-to ‘make the world a better place.’
With all good wishes,

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December letter

Dear everyone,,
An advert on the back of a Nottingham bus said ‘travel contactless.’
I quickly realised it meant that if you travel with the right ‘app’’on your smart phone and swipe it near the travel card sensor on the bus your fare is then paid.
My mind however quickly went in a very different direction. In life we are all travelling on a journey, and on that journey none of us can travel ‘contactless.’ We need the contact, the support of other people.
We are living at a time when many have less and less close contact with other people in their daily affairs. Digitalisation has been a great boon to communications, but it means less contact is actually made directly with other human beings. People drive past our houses. A few might wave to us because they know us by sight. Families do not live close to each other. Often if we want to make a transaction by computer or phone there may be a choice of up to 10 letters or numbers that have to be pressed. Even then we cannot be guaranteed an answer by a real person. Those living on their own especially can find themselves without support in their times of need..
‘No man (or woman) is an island’ John Donne reminds us, and there is also a spiritual dimension to this as well.
An important part of the Christian message for instance, is that with the coming of Jesus into the world we are celebrating a unique way in which God himself enters into human affairs. When He comes, He is to be known by the name ‘Emmanuel’, meaning ‘God with us’, in other words ‘God in contact’ with us, strengthening us through his coming, in our journeys through life.
My hope is that we will all find on our journey, a faith that will help us, keep us in touch, and guide us- through our friendships, through the help of good people of all kinds. and through to that source of strength which is ‘beyond’ ourselves.
With all good wishes for a very blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year..
Yours sincerely,

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November letter

Look out for the green lights.Then go!

Dear everyone
My holiday this year was a four-day visit via Eurostar to Paris. We made good use of tourist buses that gave excellent commentaries on their tours around the city from which we learnt a great deal about Paris and its attractions. Like many tourists, we were keen to see progress that is being made on Notre Dame.
The traffic like any city was intense. Not only roads full of buses, heavy vehicles, and cars but many different kinds and shapes of motorcycles, cycles, scooters and even a few rickshaws. We had to take great care crossing roads especially waiting for the green light to show.
When crossing lights are on red, we need to remember they are not just there to let the heavier traffic through, but to protect us when we are crossing; but when they change it’s as if the ’green man’ is saying ‘now you can proceed, now you can cross.’
This can say something about life’s journey. Are we responding to the right signals to direct our lives or are we so wrapped up in ourselves that we fail to see opportunities to go forward?
May we make our responses both great and small and respond to green light opportunities. We might need to consult others to find out what is the best way to go forward, and when the opportunity comes, take it!
Look out for the green lights.Then go!
With all good wishes,

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October letter

Dear everyone.
This month I’m breaking new ground. I’m making progress in writing a book. The idea has been simmering for a long time. There has been an element of procrastination and nervousness on my part; but several friends have expressed the view, unprompted by me, that I ought to write a book which would be an anthology based on thoughts expressed in my monthly newsletter blog.
It will require much concentrated work to prepare, and my hope is that it will be ready in the New Year, when, ‘God willing’, I celebrate during the summer the 60th year of my ordination. The title will probably be ‘In Times of Transition.’
It will cover a whole range of reflections on life both from the point of view of one’s own involvement in dementia care home, police chaplaincy, and general pastoral visiting ,but observations on living in times of great change including personal change,especially over the last nine years. Hopefully readers will find thoughts about ways in which we can be more proactively involved in society, in the environment, and discovering insights which help our spiritual needs from whatever direction we come
Many friends and relations have already offered help and advice which has been thankfully received. Your prayers would be valued in the undertaking of this venture.
With every blessing for the autumn season
Yours Sincerely,

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September letter

Dear everyone.
Nine years ago I had to give up cycling because of surgery, and I never got back into it. I was very fond of my cycle really because it had been given to me when I worked in the Shetland Islands by my Lerwick congregation some 30 years ago. My previous cycle had been badly corroded by the sea salt!
It was a mountain bike, and not only had it served me well in the islands but also in St Albans and here in Nottingham for about 20 years-a first class way of getting some exercise, and often meeting many people in the streets as well and having a word with them, a very valuable part of community pastoral care.
Now it was lying in the garage. I was wondering whether to sell it on eBay , but then I had a thought. Although it needed some cleaning up and minor adjustments it still looked in good working order, so I approached the headmaster of the local special needs school to see whether any students there could make good use of it. There was a positive response. He immediately had in mind a good candidate who would be given some training in cycle maintenance and given the cycle after he had completed the task.
Quite frankly I felt delighted that it could go to a ‘good home.’
Somehow I felt that the kind gesture of the Shetland folk presenting me with a cycle was being passed on to someone of a younger generation who would now make good use of it.
There used to be an old song which went ‘if you have a kindness shown, pass it on.’
Life must be full all kinds of good things that we can pass on. May we all join in the ‘succession’ of kind and generous acts as well as kind thoughts to others.
With all good wishes, sincerely, David.

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August letter

August letter.
Dear everyone.
Holidays were originally ‘Holy Days.’ Frequently people went on pilgrimage to some place of special spiritual significance- like people go through France and Spain today to Santiago de Compostela, and find renewal in whatever their situation may be as a result.
For many people today a holiday is simply about going somewhere different. In retirement many people who can afford it make world tours visiting places they have never been before, to others it is simply to go somewhere like beside the seaside either still in this country or especially other parts of Europe
Others might go on artists, or music courses, walking, visiting gardens or even going on holiday to help other people have a holiday.
It needn’t be a long way away but it needs to be something that is completely different from what we are doing from day to day. There is a saying that ‘a change is as good as a rest.’ For others the element of entertainment is important or a time of celebration; but holidays sometimes should have an element of exploration or discovery about them or simply remind us that ‘variety is the spice of life.’.
We might even be in a situation where we can invite a friend who badly needs one to have a holiday with us. It is also good for us to be holiday visitors ourselves to friends who may be lonely and who are unable to visit themselves
May all of us with our different kind of holidays find that they freshen us up, inwardly renew us and so help us on our way with the tasks that lie ahead.
Wherever possible. HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!
Yours sincerely,

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monthly letter

Monthly letter.July.
Dear friends.
About five years ago I was singing hymns in a worship service that I was leading and afterwards Val Machell, late co-leader of the Soundswell choir in Nottingham came up to me and said ‘I want you to join our choir, and I’m not taking no for an answer.’
This invitation could not have come at a better time.It was in the early months of my bereavement, and I soon found that I was getting a great deal of satisfaction singing music from all over the world. I still enjoy singing hymns of course. This however was a breath of fresh air, and during the holiday seasons of the year I find myself missing the uplift of regular singing and learning how to use my voice in a far better way to sing.
Singing can help us through all kinds of life experiences, sometimes helping us to express our inner feelings better, at other times taking us away from a negative thinking. Singing can be likened to a form of praying and there is the famous saying of St Augustine that the one ‘who sings prays twice!’
Does singing offer a challenge to us? I believe it does. Perhaps people don’t seem quite so much in their individual everyday activities. I believe however that many people would find more delight in life by singing more, and a good community choir, whether you can read music or not can be a great source of inspiration.
Good singing is something for us all to enjoy, and can even inspire us towards better ways of expressing life and contributing to the well-being of us all.
May we all find blessings as we sing.
With all good wishes,
Sincerely, David.

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