may letter

May letter.
Dear everyone.
Since house property repairs , much in my outhouse had to be cleaned out and thrown away. Nearly a skip load of things no longer needed had go. Many items had been kept over 20 years,things that might be useful ‘sometime’.
I decided to however keep some unused packets of seeds. Although some are several years old., I discovered that the seeds were double packed in foil so that many could still be planted.
We all need to de-clutter. Sometimes simply so that we can find things we are looking for, but we also need to de-clutter our minds too. All of us carry ‘baggage’-attitudes, prejudices, dislikes and many other things that hinder us from being the kind of people that we really ought to be; but there are some qualities and attitudes that we ought to keep. They are like seeds that have been packed away tightly and securely for a very long time, and they still need the opportunity to develop, grow and be fruitful
The ‘seeds’ of our personalities have to be cultivated, and even if some of these seeds or traits of personality have not been brought into play for a long time, they can still occupy a very significant place in our lives.
We need to explore, and at whatever age we are, set seeds for the future.
They may not all be for our benefit, perhaps for future generations, but we must always be purposeful in our living and at the very least sowing seeds for situations beyond our own. This includes caring for the natural world as well as what we might describe as the spiritual and the social needs of others.
We should all concentrate on planting seeds-that others as well as ourselves may benefit from and enjoy abundant life. We should plant seeds that give encouragement to others and help them to grow and mature.
May we all prosper by sowing seeds of hope-through our giving, through generousity of spirit, and through our prayers.
Sincerely. David.

April letter.

April letter.
Dear Everyone.
Recently I met two neighbours who were just going out for a walk round the local park. It was a nice sunny day, and good to see the arrival of spring. They were looking forward to their stroll.
Many people are not able to get out, mix with other people and enjoy stimulating things outside. However whether we are ‘home’bound or not, we are all on a journey which is shaped by our experiences along the way of life. Even if we are not strong physically we are mentally involved in travelling along on that journey but they are not always easy.
The Jews under Moses spent 40 years journeying in the wilderness going through hard and unsettled times in order to find a better place to live. We are reminded of this in the hymn ‘guide me O thou great Jehovah, pilgrims through this barren land.’
At present as a country we are going through a journey of political uncertainty too. Our prayer is that as a country and as individuals we will work for things that will be for the good of all- world wide as well as locally as well as in our own experiences of life.
The big question however that faces us, both as a nation and as individuals is this. Are we able to journey through life with faith, hope and love in our hearts? Whilst there are not simple answers to life’s questions, it is a tremendous help if we can believe that underneath all life’s difficulties there is a faith by which we can live. St Paul saw the importance of this and said that ‘there are three things that last for ever-faith hope and love, and the greatest of these is love’, and love is at the centre of the first commandment which is the greatest of them all-to love God and our neighbours as ourselves.
May all ‘barren’ areas of our lives and in society be blessed during this period of Lent by new insights that will help us all on our journey.
With all good wishes for a VERY HAPPY EASTER.,
Sincerely, David.

March letter

March letter.
Dear Everyone.
Recently I went to see a friend in hospital but when I got there the ward was closed because of infection. It seemed like a wasted journey; but I found myself asking whether that really was the case. I think the truth of the matter is that no journey need ever be a wasted journey. There is always something to think about that fills the gap, and sometimes what appears to be wasted time allows other things to come into our minds that help us to see more clearly what life is all about.
We can spend time on a journey simply observing people. Three quarters of the travellers on the bus, train or tram may be dipping into their smart phones, there is the endless excited chatter of children, and more in the centre of the city people speaking many different languages. You begin to realise how cosmopolitan we are becoming. We might meet up with someone we haven’t seen for ages; but there is another side that is equally important.
The journey can be a very creative one. Just now we remember Lent. How important was the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness. Barren and wasteful ‘wilderness’ times can be times of reflection contemplation, and prayer. The opportunity to do this is in what one writer in his Lent book described as ‘times of leanness.’
For Jesus Lent was a time of preparing for ministry, of spreading the ‘good news of the kingdom of God.’ This kingdom has qualities of gentleness and not violence. However we understand life, I would suggest that all people of goodwill need to be working for the common good. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus saw the importance of all people in the world who work for justice and peace.
We all need to remember that peace in the world is not just the absence of war but a time when justice, fairness , compassion, forgiveness and goodwill are predominant in world affairs and in the lives of individuals. We are all called upon to be peacemakers.
Surely this is something for all to work towards during Lent?
May we all spend time in thoughtfulness during the season so that we may all be better equipped to serve and help each other and to serve God in the world.
With all good wishes,

February letter

Dear everyone.
As we get older it is surprising how things our parents said to us as children come back into our minds. One came into my mind today. ‘Look where you are going.’
We need to look where we are going, both in the things that we our doing and in the things that we are facing. Our lives all need a sense of watchfulness about them. Never has there been a greater need for people to pray and to think carefully about how we are living, how we are affecting each other, and how we are looking after the world and its resources. We need to keep our eyes open to all these issues.
We must look beyond fake news and destructive hidden agendas; but we must also look out for signs of positively good things happening in the world and encourage them to grow.
When Jesus tells us to pray ‘give us this day our daily bread,’ we are not only to make a request for nutritional body support, but for all the other things that enable us to exist, accepting each day’s ‘diet’ as it comes , ‘watching where we are going,’ and accepting the good things thankfully that we are given as we travel along life’s journey.
We can easily be overcome by the negatives presented to us, but each day also has opportunities to enable us to live together better than we’ve ever done before. We must remember that there is The Spirit at work in the world too: waiting to show humankind the way to abundant life.
John Bunyan in his hymn written in the 17th century entitled ‘who would have true valour see’, there are some words in it which seem appropriate to the age in which we live. He writes:
‘who so beset him round with dismal stories, do but themselves confound; his strength the more is.
No lion can him fright; he’ll with a giant fight; but he will have a right to be a pilgrim.’
Let us all ‘watch where we are going’, and go forward, challenging the inferior things that go on and accepting all the good things that we are given to share with others in faith -a day at a time.
With all good wishes,

January letter

Dear everyone.
A model making shop in Nottingham is closing down, not due to lack of trade, but simply changed circumstances. It has been very busy over the last few weeks, especially with model train enthusiasts who have found all kinds of bargains there as a result of the clearance sale.
Many of the customers are middle-aged and older men for whom model railways is a fascinating hobby. It’s all tied up with the earlier age of steam, trainspotting, steam locomotives thundering through our local stations, and the excitement of a steam train taking some of us on our holidays.
Steam locomotives are to be found in railway museums, and many men especially give a great deal of their leisure time in restoring them, and yet others enjoy being engine drivers for steam preservation railways and fulfilling other roles.
The age of steam also reminds many of us of a time when it was still a way for people to travel out of their local communities and explore new ground. Cars coaches, aircraft and holiday cruisers have taken over much of this role since.
Model steam railway engines and preservation societies have created a healthy kind of looking back, but there are many other forms of looking back that are simply a kind of nostalgia where there is an unwillingness to change. Such attitudes can have a negative effect on our personalities.
My prayer is that we may all appreciate things from past, live in the present and move forward into the future, because life is like a journey or even a pilgrimage where we have to move on, striving to achieve good objectives with a good end in view. Sydney Carter’s Hymn ‘One more step along the world I go,’ reminds us of this when he writes.
‘It’s from the Old I travel to the New, keep me travelling along with You.’
We all need to keep on moving and preparing for new experiences whatever age we may be.
My wish is that 2019 may be a progressive and happy year for us all.
Sincerely, David.

December letter

Dear everyone.
In a book recently I came across these words ‘We can never underestimate the value of friends.’ This I believe is important at every level of society and in many different kinds of friendships-some lifelong and others that sometimes drift in and out of our life experience.
Never has there been a greater need for human beings to develop the gifts of friendship, they are gifts which will serve us well throughout our lives. Those of us who have lost our partners or people who are desperately lonely for many other reasons find many friends a source of great blessing, and we can reciprocate by listening to what their needs are too. It requires trust, and a willingness on our part to really listen.
One of the most fascinating and helpful things that can happen to any of us is to have a conversation on a train,bus or plane where we find ourselves talking with someone we have never met before and unlikely to meet again. This happened to me recently on a long train journey where a woman shared with me her life story of relationships, and how she was hoping that in the future she would meet someone with whom she would build up a permanent relationship.
She wanted to hear what my story was, and I related to her my own sense of loss, and how I had been held tremendously by a great variety of friends. In many ways for me as a clergyman the experience of bereavement has helped me in my understanding of other people’s sense of loss too and in a strange way had enriched my pastoral ministry.
As we celebrate Christmas whatever our outlook may be, can I suggest we especially give thanks for our friends. It may be appropriate to do this in our prayers, or even add others whom we ought to befriend especially because of their special needs.
The Christmas season of Goodwill is also the season of Good Intention to every kind of person. This was the message of the Angels on the first Christmas Day, that there should be peace on earth. We should have an attitude of friendship towards all people we meet, perhaps especially in political situations where it is very easy for attitudes of hatred and ill will to flourish.
Let us pray for a CULTURE OF FRIENDSHIP to be strengthened throughout this Christmas season and also be thankful to God for all who have shown us friendship and support in our times of need.
Blessings be yours during this coming Christmas Tide,
Sincerely -David

November letter

Dear Everyone.

The first time I went to Berlin was during the Cold War in 1955. I travelled in the Berlin corridor at night and I only saw the inside of a very overcrowded train.

This October I saw a vibrant city. The first night we went on a short river cruise and viewed many of the historic buildings of Berlin.On the second day we travelled on a sightseeing bus. We were told that 70% of Berlin was destroyed during the war, but as a result, many unique and imaginative buildings have been built.

World tourists were there in large numbers, and much that we saw was very emotional: remains of the Berlin Wall, individual memorials to men and women who had tried to swim across the River Spree to escape from East Germany, only to be shot in the process,the Holocaust Memorial, a memory garden to Jews and Romany’s who had been murdered during the Nazi regime. Near some remains of the Berlin Wall there was a photographic display of politicians, creative thinkers, Jews, gypsies, disabled people and those classed as imbecile’s who ‘stood in the way’ of a programme of ethnic cleansing. A sober reminder of what can happen in any part of the world when democracy gets seriously damaged by oppressive leaders.

This regime began amongst those who perpetrated hate crimes and threatened all who resisted their policies. Great bravery was needed to stand up to these pressures by anyone who wanted to see ‘right prevail.’

The day on which I started to compile this letter is known in the Christian calendar as ‘All Saints Day’ when we remember all kinds of people who have stood up for what is right, and sometimes had to pay heavily for the consequences.’ Blessed are the peacemakers’ says Jesus in the Beatitudes ‘for they shall be called the sons of God.’

Let us at this remember all people have shown great bravery,and suffered much when true law and order in society are being damaged, especially this year as we remember the centenary of the ending of the First World War.

It is important however that we all learn the art of speaking the truth in the face of evil in the world .May we all be willing to follow the good examples of all those who have gone before us.

With all good wishes and every blessing,