Kate and Harry’s Wedding

On Wednesday April 19th our gardener Martyn came to work in our garden.  On Friday 21st April  Beth drove me and Cathy to my niece Kate’s wedding to her long term partner Harry (Harrison) for the evening event.  The evening reception was at the Garstang Best Western Hotel from 7.30 till 1am.  Cathy was thrilled that she had been able to get the time off to be at the wedding, as working away meant she often missed such occasions.  They had got married earlier that day at the same venue, so by the time we arrived their children aged 2 ½ and 4 were already in bed.  We had two rooms booked, Cathy in one, as she confirmed later that she could come and Beth and I in the other.  We relaxed and decided to have a snack meal to keep us going for the later refreshment at the event.  Cathy and I had something but I cannot remember what Beth ate or whether she ate; it is more complicated for Beth as she is a coeliac and cannot therefore eat gluten.

We got changed and were ready to go for the evening event.  We mixed with relatives, but found the music and strobes rather overpowering and congregated with others in the neighbouring room.  We could have drinks and sweets all evening but the bacon butty came later on. I do not tend to eat sweets much so just got some to take home for my beloved.  Cathy stayed up longer socializing whereas Beth and I went to bed not too late!  We were both falling asleep.  It was lovely to talk with Kathleen, my stepmother in the lobby before going to our room; amazing that she was able to be there at the wedding.  It was lovely to see so many members of the family, in particular members of Dave’s family, who I had not remembered.  We oldies stayed away from the music in the adjoining room. The hotel was very comfortable and we enjoyed a good breakfast.  Beth too had a good choice of food for breakfast.  The girls and I had a leisurely drive back home on Saturday morning.  It was good to be back home with my beloved again.

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Sunday April 16th Easter Day

On Sunday April 16th Easter Day I led worship at Hampsthwaite Chapel.  We began worship when I said, ‘The Lord is risen!  He is risen indeed! Alleluia!’  I just love Easter Day when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus; we worship a risen Lord, who is alive today for evermore.  We read Psalm 118 responsively before we sang, ‘Christ the Lord is risen today; Alleluia!’  I led to opening prayers of praise, the collect for the day, confession and the Lord’s Prayer.  Acts 10.34-43 was read before we sang, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives.’  Colossians 3.1-4 was read before there was a dramatised reading based on Matthew 28.1-10.  We sang ‘Low in the grave he lay’, before I preached.

A supernumerary minister in our circuit Rev Ron Dale has seen the figure of Jesus at times in his life after he became a Christian.  I have never seen Jesus as Ron did, but I have experienced that sense of his presence, when I was filled with the Holy Spirit at university.  When I had just lost my husband Stephen and came forward for prayer at an Alpha away day, as I was worried about the way he died; I fell down, bathed in Jesus’ love, and got the message that Stephen was now at peace.  It did not stop me having a breakdown but it gave me an assurance about him, which has never left me.

Peter now knew that God had no favourite nation as he had been sent to Cornelius, a gentile worshipper of the Jewish God.  Those who lived outside the boundaries of Israel were accepted by God through Jesus.  Peter explained that Jesus had been sent by God and empowered by God with the Holy Spirit, because God loved us so much.  Jesus was a healer who was committed to alleviating all the pain and sorrow in the world.  Yet despite this the authorities had taken him and crucified him but God had raised him from the dead.  Paul emphasised how Jesus had appeared to many specially chosen witnesses including those who had eaten and drunk with him after he had been raised.  They had been instructed to preach and testify to Jesus and say that everyone who believed in Him would receive forgiveness of sins through his name.  In Jesus is God’s intended vision of humanity without distinctions; Jews and Gentiles are accepted on equal terms and were to accept each other fully in ordinary social relationships.

Let’s imagine what it felt like for the women, Mary and Mary Magdalene who were just coming to be near the tomb.  They had witnessed Jesus’ death on the cross, and they had seen him laid in the tomb.  They knew the guards were there to make sure the tomb remained secure, so expected to watch from a distance.  Suddenly they witnessed the earthquake, saw the angel roll away the stone and watched the reaction of the guards. They heard the words of the angel, reminding them of what Jesus had said; that he would rise from the dead and go before the disciples to Galilee. They were invited to come and see for themselves and then go and tell the disciples that Jesus had risen and would see them in Galilee.  As they sped off to tell the disciples in fear and joy, Jesus met them and greeted them, so they held onto him by his feet and worshipped him. Jesus repeated the angel’s message telling them to go and tell the disciples to await for him in Galilee.

How would we have responded?  Would we have collapsed as the guards did?  Would we have been too afraid or overwhelmed to share the good news?  Why were the women the first witnesses of the resurrection?  They had been with Jesus to his death on the cross, witnessed his death and burial, so for them to witness the resurrection and meet the risen Lord was appropriate.  It has been said that women being natural gossips would be ideal people to share the good news.  Are we resurrection people?  Does the glorious good news of the risen Lord make a difference to our lives now?  Jesus is risen; he is risen indeed; Alleluia!

We sang ‘Now the green blade rises from the buried grain’ before I led the intercessions.  Worship concluded when we sang, ‘Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son’.

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Piper’s latest Misadventure

Yesterday, August 17th I set off with Piper for his usual walk, this time making sure he remained on the lead, so he did not get distracted by the scent of rabbits.  I took a variation of the route, avoiding crossing the stream, as it had poured down overnight and the stream would be much fuller.   Piper trotted happily along with me beside bushes and across the fields until suddenly he stopped and held his front leg up!  I had a look at his paw but could see nothing wrong.  I felt his leg which he was licking furiously and he yelped and lay down on the grass!! I took off his longer lead and put on his short lead to see if that would get him up, but he just did not want to walk.  I had to heave him up and carry him up the incline of the field stopping to rest at intervals as he had become a dead weight and was very heavy. As I got near to the road I tried my mobile phone but it told me that rhere was no Sim!  I climbed over the stile to the road and Picked Piper up again.  I saw a lady across the road and as soon it was safe to cross I carried Piper over.  I asked her if she had a mobile phone I could borrow to ring my son in law Ken, whose number was on my phone but it would not ring from the lady’s phone. We then tried to ring a taxi to take me and Piper home, but instead we got the office of St Michael’s Hospice, so I asked the lady if she could ring for a taxi to pick us up and explained where we were.  I waited for a number of minutes, when the lady with whom I had been speaking arrived and insisted on taking us to the vet.  That was my second good Samaritan.

I was told to wait until there was a space to fit Piper in at Shamrock, the vets.  Fortunately the main vet came down, intrigued to see why Piper was limping.  He soon found out that nothing was strained or broken, but Piper who had greeted him with a wag, yelped when he touched the leg, obviously in a lot of pain.  He took him through to a better lit room and they managed to pull something out of his leg.  Finding the leg inflamed he cleaned the area and injected him with a painkiller and antibiotics.  The vet took the offending article upstairs to look at it under the microscope and found it was a bee sting!  I got a taxi home from a helpful taxi driver; not all taxis take dogs, but he had a rescue greyhound. Once home Piper limped in to see his master.  My beloved gave him much loving care so he recuperated, occasionally limping across the room or following me and Brian as we went to the summerhouse to share a time of prayer.

We were not sure if he would manage a walk that evening, but after initially hobbling he walked more normally on his affected leg, but he was more tired than usual, so did not have a long walk!  Today fully recovered he chose a different route avoiding the offending field!  He still pulled me at speed through bushes and trees in Hookstone Wood; he was back on form!!  At one point he was intent on going into a garden, from where I pulled him out; he had a dead squirrel in his mouth, which I insisted he dropped!!

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Groups enhance our fellowship

On Monday April 10th we had the Bible study group.  We were studying the York course but we had only completed the first session in two studies. We began session 2 on the theme of ‘Receiving Christ: in the stranger and the needy.’  We listened to the CD with the comments by Margaret Sentamu, Ken Howcroft former Methodist Conference President, Bishop Nick Baines Bishop of Leeds, and Theodora Hawksley RC Sister & Theologian who gave the reflection at the end.  We then discussed half the questions on the topic.  We were challenged as to how we would respond to man or woman begging on the streets?  We were challenged to consider whether it was right for a Christian GP to take early retirement and volunteer long-term at a leprosy hospital in Africa, leaving her increasingly frail, elderly mother in the early stages of dementia to be supported by friends and neighbours.  It was difficult to discuss such a complex situation but we explored varying reactions in the group.  We discussed how some churches stay open at night to provide accommodation and breakfast for those on the margins of society and what our church could do.  In fact our chapel provides a low cost meal most Thursdays in our church hall; that meal is provided free on Christmas day for those on their own and needing a meal; transport is provided to and from the venue on the day.  Our previous caretaker lived in a house on the site, but decided to buy his own property, so we made the house available free of rent as the homeless manager set it up for a drop in for the homeless or vulnerable people who needed a shower, a meal,  and advice about what else they could do.  The homeless shelter was initially set up by a former minister, the late Gordon Lister to provide help.  That was I believe twenty-five years ago.  We all need to realise how fortunate we are and be ready to help with food, bedding and clothing if needed. We were also challenged about whether we could see Jesus in other people, in particular in the poor and marginalised.  We discussed the challenging issues felt by a working Christian mother who had taken in a blind, destitute Iranian political asylum seeker.  I admired her strength especially as she had an autistic son, but found it very moving that they had gained from the experience.

On Thursday April 13th we had the meeting of the Guild. Helen Watkinson, a retired social worker, who had been the previous year for 3 months to Malawi to help with the children in the orphanage there; her husband joined her for the last month to do any practical work needed.  She had found it daunting in the heat but so rewarding to work with the children. She shared some photos with us of some of the children they were involved with. It was an interesting talk and I admired her for the work she had done. She and her husband had paid their own flights and raised money for the orphanage to take needed items with them.

On Good Friday I went down to my chapel for the Good Friday meditation our minister Trevor led.  I always find it moving as we have time to stop, listen, pray and concentrate on the suffering Jesus went through to show us how much God loved us.  We heard meditations from people there at the time, such as Peter the denier of Jesus and Barabbas, the murderer set free instead of Jesus, who did not deserved to die.  I always feel more prepared for the coming of Easter after the Good Friday meditative service.

On Saturday I relaxed whilst I treated myself to a massage.  Beth came round later and we had a chat and short walk with the dogs, before she took them off for a longer walk.  I enjoyed spending time relaxing with my beloved as we listened to music, watched TV or films in the evenings.

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Sunday April 9th Palm Sunday at Wesley Chapel

On April 4th I went to the New Wine group and it was good to have a time of prayer and worship.  It is so peaceful and encouraging when we meet and share even though it is only an hour and a half.

On Wednesday Martyn our gardener came and worked manfully on his first main gardening session in the rain!!  I felt sorry for him but he ploughed on with it.

On Palm Sunday our minister Rev Trevor Dixon led us in a service of meditation on the passion.  Worship began with the Lenten Candle Liturgy.  We sang all the verses of the Tree of Life.  Another candle was extinguished as we acknowledge the darkness and pain of illness and disease in the world.  We prayed that we would make the choices which encourage the well-being of the earth, ourselves and our neighbours, learning from Jesus how to be compassionate, just and inclusive in all we say and do.  Trevor led the prayers and the Lord’s Prayer.

He then explained that we would be having a series of readings and symbols would be brought out to the front.  The first symbol was the palm branch added to the cross after the reading from Matthew 21.1-11.  We sang, ‘Children of Jerusalem’ before the reading from Matthew 26. 26-29 before bread and wine was brought out to place by the cross.  We sang ‘Be known to us in breaking bread’ before Matthew 26.14-16 was read and the third symbol of the moneybag was brought out. We sang two verses from ‘Christ is the world’s life, Christ and none other’ before John 14.1-14 was read and the symbols of the towel and a basin were brought out.  We sang,’ Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love,’ before Mark 15.16-20 was read and the crown of thorns and purple robe were brought and draped round the cross.  We sang, ‘O sacred head, sore wounded’, before John 18.38-John 19.1 and the symbol of the whip was added to the cross.  We sang, ‘We may not know, we cannot tell what pains he had to bear’ before the Matthew 27.15-50 was read and the symbol of the nails and hammer; the nails being hammered into the cross, which was moving and dramatic.

Trevor gave a meditation – Gone wrong?  We sang, ‘When my love for Christ grows weak’ reminding us that we are on a journey with God towards the cross, encouraging us to live as people of promise. Trevor said the prayer of dismissal and the grace.  We all found the service moving and profound.

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Sunday April 2nd Worship at Kirk Hammerton

On Sunday April 2nd I led worship at Kirk Hammerton Chapel.  Worship began when we said Psalm 130 responsively.  We sang ‘Father of everlasting grace,’ before I led the opening prayers of praise, thanksgiving, confession and the Lord’s Prayer.  The first reading was Romans 8.6-11.  I gave a short talk about how we should treat each other and listen to our conscience to prevent us from repeatedly hurting others.  We sang, ‘The Spirit lives to set us free,’ before the reading from the Old Testament, Ezekiel 37.1-14.  The dramatised reading was based on John 11. 1-45 which took place before we sang, ‘O breath of life, come sweeping through us.

I explained how Ezekiel was a prophet who was spoken to by God in visions and pictures.  He was brought in a trance to a field of dry bones of men long dead in battle.   He was commanded to prophesy over the bones and make them hear.  He did as God had told him and the bones after a strange rattle reassembled themselves into their original bodies and were covered with sinews, flesh and skin.  He was commanded to prophesy again and summon the four winds to breathe God’s Spirit into the dead bodies and restore them to life, which he saw happening.  God explained that the bones were Israel and it was a promise that Israel would rise from despair and hopelessness of death to becoming a living community.  This prophesy came after the exile and gave the people renewed hope of a future.

Jesus was at the far side of the Jordan, when he heard from Mary and Martha of the severe illness of their brother, Lazarus, but he delayed his journey for two days, even though they were his friends.  Did he delay going because God had not told him to go?  He was so in tune with his father that he waited for the right time to go.  The disciples were anxious about him going as he had been threatened already by the authorities in Jerusalem and the village was very near Jerusalem, but Jesus knew that God’s will and work needed to be done.  When Jesus and his disciples arrived Lazarus had already been dead for four days.  Everyone was in mourning and the sisters felt that he could have been saved if Jesus had come earlier.  The pain and suffering of the sisters and the loss of Lazarus moved Jesus to tears.   However although Martha and Mary did not expect a miracle, Jesus prayed aloud to God showing his dependence on God and called out to Lazarus, who came out all bound up and needed to be released.  That led to opposite reactions; many of those present believed in Jesus, but others had a very different and hostile reaction and reported to the Pharisees.

In both Ezekiel’s vision and in the raising of Lazarus God is the supreme mover; both show the glory of God restoring life by the power of his Holy Spirit.  Paul affirmed that all that called upon the Lord would have the Spirit sweeping through their lives.  They had a new quality of life and a new mind set, which helped them to follow God.  We as believers need to be filled with God’s Spirit daily so we can grow in our faith following our Lord Jesus.  May we allow God to sweep through our lives and restore and renew our faith daily.

We sang ‘I cannot tell why he whom angels worship’ before I led the prayers of intercessions.  Worship concluded as we sang, ‘Jesus the name high over all.’

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A splendid visit to Switzerland with Cathy

On Sunday March 26th my beloved cooked a delicious casserole to share with Beth and Cathy. Cathy supplied the pudding and I had something for Beth, which was gluten free.  They came to celebrate Mothering Sunday with us.  It was good to see them both.  Cathy had come home the previous Saturday on a break from her job as a nanny based in Switzerland.  She had arranged to fly back on Tuesday 27th and I was going with her to see where she worked in Nyon and stay a couple of nights.

Ken picked me up and took us both to Leeds Bradford Airport at Yeadon.  Cathy had advised me as the seasoned traveller about what to pack and Beth leant me her bag for my hand luggage.  I had to carry see-through bags with toiletries and phone.  As Cathy had washing things I did not need to take toothbrush or toothpaste etc.  She gave me confidence even when I had to be felt all over to make sure I was not carrying anything sinister. I was glad to fly with Cathy as she is so knowledgeable and confident.  All went well and we were soon on the Jet 2 aeroplane.  Once we had set off I ordered a glass of Proseco and felt relaxed.  I found it difficult leaving my beloved because he much prefers me to be with him; I am most relaxed usually with him.  I went as I really wanted to see where Cathy had been working for nearly seven years.  I was excited as I had not been abroad for more than seventeen years.  I was glad that Piper was there to keep Malcolm company and Beth bless her would walk the dog one evening to help him.  We were able to keep in touch via Facebook as Cathy was so good at posting regular updates of our adventures.

Once we arrived in Geneva we went by train to Nyon, where we took our luggage to Cathy’s room.  That afternoon we went by boat over Lake Geneva to a mediaeval village, Yvoire.  It was absolutely beautiful weather, lovely and warm and sunny amazingly for the end of March.  We explored the lovely streets and buildings, before we had our evening meal in a local restaurant dedicated to Jules Verne, author of Round the World in 80 days.  We had a local dish of fried fish small fillets with salad and French fries and we shared a banana split in the restaurant, where we were the only customers.  We then were the only passengers on the ferry back to Nyon; it was as though it was our personal transport!!  A large number of workers come over daily to work in Switzerland as it is cheaper to live in France and a lot had already returned to France when we returned to Nyon.  We had a relaxing evening watching a film in Cathy’s room.  We were both tired after our day of travelling, so we did not go to bed late.  I found the flat very warm as it was meant to be cold at that time of year!  Cathy was organised in her room; everything in its place.

On Wednesday March 28th we had another glorious day of warm sunshine which was wonderful.  I felt sorry for my beloved as the weather in Harrogate was more overcast and cold, but was glad when it began to improve a little for him, before I returned.  We took the train to Geneva and one of the ways we rode in a double-decker train, which was really fun.  It made the holiday more of an adventure.  On arrival in Geneva we found a café for a traditional ‘petit déjeuner’ of croissant and coffee.  It was just right for us.  We had had a mug of porridge before we left, which Cathy had brought from England with her. We only needed to add hot water and her microwave made us perfect porridge.  We then explored Geneva and Cathy pointed out all the attractions notably ‘le jet d’eau’; a fountain of water emerging from the lake, which was easily visible from the other side of the Lake.  We walked quite close to it.  We walked up high to get good views of Geneva.  We could see Mont Blanc and Evian from different parts of the lakeside.  As it was so lovely and warm and sunny we were able to go onto the lake and have a fondue for our lunch.  It was amazing to be sitting in the warm sun eating a delicious fondue.  It was very filling but delicious.  We then explored a bit more. At one point Cathy took me up to where the United Nations Building was with its display of so many national flags, but I was most impressed by the giant broken chair; it symbolised the many innocent civilians still dying in war and conflict in nations. Civilians should not be just collateral damage but be seen as the human beings they are; mothers, fathers, children, brothers and sisters.   Cathy was disappointed not to be able to show me a flowerbed shaped like a clock face, but I was not, as we had such brilliant weather and I had seen so much of what she had to show me.  When we returned to Nyon we went to the supermarket and Cathy bought a few things for us to have at her room.  As she was going to be starting back to work the next day we went to bed in good time.

As she started at 7am we were up early for me to get to the station, although I was not flying back until later that morning.  I relaxed and had a coffee and croissant in a café before getting on a train.  I arrived in good time at Geneva airport and got through into the main waiting area.  As instructed by Cathy who is the perfect instructor for travelling, I bought some bottled water, and sandwiches to eat on the flight.  I went to the duty free shop I found some gifts to take back for my beloved, Beth and Hilary.  I bought chocolates back for them all together with a soft toy rabbit for my beloved and Beth.  Soon I was ready to board the Easy Jet flight to Liverpool.  I only had hand luggage so I did not have to queue to board, again thanks to Cathy’s assistance.  On board the plane I ate my sandwiches and decided to buy a special gift to my beloved; an Easy Jet fun plane.  The flight was early arriving in Liverpool, where my lovely elder daughter Beth, bless her met me.  Cathy, bless her, kept her informed about my flight so she knew exactly when to arrive.  Soon we were on the way home.  My lovely daughters gave me a really good break.  I am so lucky with my daughters.  My beloved was relieved to have me safely home and enjoyed my gifts, saving the chocolates for Easter and playing with the fun plane.  Piper was absolutely overjoyed to have me back home to make his family complete!

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