Sharing with and saying goodbye to friends

On Monday March 6th Pamela Cundall came and joined us for lunch and my beloved made his version of kedgeree with smoked haddock, peppers, mushrooms and eggs and it was delicious.  It was lovely to have Pamela over for lunch.  Her husband Dr David Cundall, a retired Paediatrician was over in Nigeria with some other health workers training nurses in the care of babies.  He has been working for some time on fundraising and training midwives in the care of newborns. They are self funded and he spends 3 weeks at a time there.

On Tuesday March 7th we had the thanksgiving service for the life of the Reverend Gordon Lister at Wesley Chapel. Our minister Rev Christine Gillespie gave the tribute for Gordon, who had been a supernumerary minister at our chapel for a number of years; he was a former minister at Wesley Chapel. He had been concerned about the homeless problem in Harrogate and he had initiated work to set up a hostel for the homeless. The work with the homeless has since gone from strength to strength and our old caretaker’s house is used as a drop in providing advice, showers, and meals for the homeless who come our way during the week.  There is work also besides the hostel to make sure no one has a second night out.  Gordon has always been supportive of the vulnerable and he always had time for everyone, asking after people who could not attend church.  Having been widowed earlier he remarried when he met Barbara more than 22 years ago.  They met on a modern theology course he had taken after he retired from full time ministry.  They shared the love of music and playing the piano as well as their faith as progressive Christians following the way of Jesus.  We sang ‘How do Thy mercies close me round!’ a hymn by Charles Wesley I had not sung before.  He wished that we could sing more of Charles Wesley’s hymns.  The Rev John Sadler, a Supernumerary minister, who had found Gordon a great support in his former ministry in Harrogate gave a tribute. Mike Greenburg, a local preacher and one of our stewards was a great admirer of Gordon and also gave his tribute to him, as did our supernumerary minister Rev Trevor Dixon who had found Gordon an inspiration too. The Bible readings were from John 14.1-6 & 27. Our minister led the prayers and the Lord’s Prayer.  We sang, ‘Angel voices, ever singing’ before the closing prayers and the benediction.  It was a moving tribute to a gifted man who we all miss very much.

On Thursday we were at the Guild and the speaker, David Wilberforce the organist at the United Reform Church gave a tribute to Gordon Lister. He remembered a Sankey evening when the circuit choir had led it.  Apparently Gordon thought most of the circuit ministers had ‘foot and mouth disease’ as they didn’t visit and couldn’t preach!!  He had wondered about how the new hymnbook of our church, ‘Singing the Faith’ dare alter the words of old hymns!

David was introducing us to different tunes for the hymns, such as ‘O God beyond all praising’; some tunes came from opera, Gilbert and Sullivan and folk songs.  We sang the hymn to the tune by Gustav Holst.  Then we sang, ‘Fill your hearts with joy and gladness’ by Timothy Dudley Smith to the tune of ‘Ode to Joy.’  The next hymn was ‘God is our refuge and strength’, which was based on the first three verses of Psalm 46.  ‘For the beauty of the earth by F.S Pierpont was sung to the tune Bizet by Pearl Fisher’s duet.   ‘Glory to God in the highest’, Gloria was set to a traditional Welsh melody.  The Hope of Glory is a paraphrase of Psalm 19, ‘The heavens declare thy glory, Lord,’ by Isaac Watts to the tune by Joseph Haydn, from the Oratorio of the creation; the heavens are telling the glory of God. Charles Wesley wrote, ‘Behold the servant of the Lord!’ and it was set to the duet by Mozart from the Magic flute.  Wesley’s hymn had 16 Biblical quotations from Hosea, all the gospels and some epistles; he wrote a scriptural hymn, a prayer about God.  We then sang, ‘The God of love my shepherd is’ based on Psalm 23;  written  by George Herbert and the music by A Sullivan’s Iolanthe, the Lord Chancellor’s song.  We then had a prayer of thanksgiving and we sang, ‘Thine be the glory’ set to the German Advent hymn by Handel from Judas Maccabeus round about the starry throne. The words were by Edmond Budry about Easter faith.   It was a lovely interesting afternoon.

On Friday I helped at the Acorn Centre and was pleased to see the progress being made by some students.  I always enjoy seeing everyone!

On Saturday I had a relaxing morning after walking Piper and I enjoyed relaxing with my beloved every evening, some evenings we enjoyed watching television, listening to music and watching DVDs and at the weekend.

Beth came round on Saturday and she and I took both the dogs out and spent some time at the local park as we had a drink and a chat, before she took Piper out for a long walk.

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Sunday March 5th Worship at Park Grove Chapel

On Sunday March 5th I led worship at Park Grove Chapel.   Worship began when we read Psalm 32 responsively as the call to worship.  We sang ‘Lead us heavenly Father, lead us’ before I led the prayers of praise, thanksgiving, confession and the Lord’s Prayer.    I gave a children’s address which explained how we can only be changed and helped to be better people if we give our lives to Jesus and remember to live as he would want us to do, being loving and caring for people.  We sang, ‘How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, good news, proclaiming peace, announcing news of happiness, Our God reigns, Our God reigns.’   The readings were Genesis 2.15-17; 3.1-7 and Romans 5.12-19 before we sang, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God’.  We had a dramatised reading based on Matthew 4.1-11 before I preached.

Genesis described the creation of man and woman who were made in God’s image and told to name the animals and take care of them.  They only had the one rule not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because those secrets of life and death only belonged to God.  The serpent in his magic knowledge and promise of life and fertility made him the fitting tempter.  He slyly suggested that God was preventing them from having full knowledge.  Why did God not want them to be wise and have as much knowledge as He did and anyway the fruit looked good to eat.  Having eaten it they became aware of their nakedness and tried to cover themselves with fig leaves and hide from God.  Too late they realised their mistake and guilt.  Adam and Eve were created in the image of God and being in obedient fellowship with him formed their identity.   When they disobeyed God’s one rule they found that they were no longer in harmony with and fellowship with God.  How do you identify yourself?  How do I identify myself?  I am learning that my true identity is in God through Christ Jesus.

Jesus had just at the high moment of his baptism received the Holy Spirit, and God  had assured him that he was his beloved son in whom he was well pleased.  Sent by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days and nights, where Jesus had to work out what kind of Messiah God had called him to be. The temptations Jesus faced when he was at an extremely low point tired, hungry and thirsty could only be faced by a person who had very special powers, if indeed he was the Son of God. In the first temptation Jesus was challenged to use his powers to meet his own needs.  He countered the devil by using scripture to say that man did not live by bread alone, but by every word that came from the mouth of the Lord.  Jesus knew he had come to serve and only used his powers when he responded with compassion to the needs of the 5000 people as sheep without a shepherd and teaching them, using what the disciples had brought him.

Next the devil took him to the highest point of the temple and challenged him to throw himself from the temple, because if he were the Son of God, the angels would protect him from injury.  The devil knew his scripture and cunningly used his knowledge to test him.  Jesus was challenged to be a dare devil and draw people to follow him, if he used his power for ever greater sensations. That was not the way God wanted him to use his power.  Jesus again challenged the devil with scripture reminding him that he should not put the Lord God to the test.  True faith was not dependent on signs and wonders.

The tempter knew Jesus had come to save the world and argued that it would be easier for him to accomplish if he fell down and worshipped him, as he would give him all the kingdoms of the world.  The devil wanted him to compromise by coming to terms with him, not setting his demands as high. Jesus had made his choice to reject bribing people, being sensational or compromising God’s message; his identity was being obedient to God.  Paul saw Jesus in terms of the second Adam who undid the disobedience of Adam by being obedient to his heavenly father, even to death on the cross.  Jesus declined the temptations by using words of scripture.  Do we know our Bible as well?  How can we overcome testing? Does our Christian faith make a difference to the way we live our lives?   How can we be true to our beliefs?  Surely we can keep our eyes on Jesus and ask ourselves what Jesus would do.  Only as we focus on Jesus our guide, friend and redeemer can we truly resist temptation.

After the sermon we sang, ‘For the healing of the nations’ and I led the prayers of intercession.  Worship concluded when we sang, ‘O Jesus I have promised.’


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Family and Friends are so important

On Monday 27th February Cathy and Ken flew to Switzerland to have a few days break before she went back to work.  They enjoyed their break together.

On Tuesday 28th Beth had an exploratory laparoscopy so I took her to the hospital and collected her later to come and stay with us. Fortunately everything was found to be normal, but the operation took a lot out of her.  Piper was a good comfort to her as he instinctively knows when someone is not feeling well.  It was good to have Beth with us and give her some TLC.  Owen her lodger, bless him, looked after Chase for her whilst she recuperated with us.  Chase would have been too much for her in her delicate state, as he is such a young dog, only 14 months old now.  She returned to her home on the Friday, but her good friends from her church, Christ Church came to help with walking Chase, so Owen did not have to do it all.

On Thursday Brian, my prayer partner, came for our time of sharing and prayer, which is so helpful to us both.  At that time, just at the time we were expecting, John Lewis delivered our new sofa and set it up and left with all the packaging extremely efficiently.

On Friday I was at the Acorn Centre helping students improve their confidence on computers, which I enjoy doing.

I relaxed in the evenings with my beloved watching DVDs and listening to music and enjoying television dramas and documentaries.  On Saturday as Beth was still convalescing we walked Piper; she likes to take him for a longer walk with Chase.


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Kathleen’s special birthday celebrations

On Saturday February 25th I walked Piper early as Beth, Cathy and I were travelling to Liverpool to celebrate my stepmother Kathleen’s 90th birthday.  Kathleen’s nephew and nieces had organised a buffet lunch for family and friends.  My beloved was unable to come with me, as he cannot cope with long journeys or large groups of people since he has suffered from ME.  He was staying to look after Piper at home, as I would only be away a night.  We had a good journey over to Liverpool arriving at the cricket club in good time; we helped Kathleen’s niece and her daughter to carry plant displays in for the get together.  We saw Kathleen and met her wonderful cleaner Jean, who is such a support to her, before too many people arrived. Kathleen was pleased with the special card made by a gifted colleague Sue Green at the Acorn Centre.  We had all contributed to a gift for Kathleen and the girls and I gave her some virtual gifts, which supported vulnerable women in various countries too.

It was great to meet the families of Kathleen’s nephew and nieces of whom we had heard so much.  It was good to catch up with brothers and sisters too and nieces and nephews who came.  Fran’s grandchildren were all there; Jackson and Mia, Kate and Harrison’s children and we met Gwyn and Damaris and their daughter Alice.  They are all lovely children and close to Fran so she can enjoy them.  Jackson is growing into a lovely natured boy.  Mia is a 2 year old going on 5; she is a real little lady now.  Alice just 6 months younger is a very outgoing and happy child with a close bond to her father, Gwyn.  It was good to see how grown up and elegant Nicola and Nick’s daughters Corrie and Hannah were.  Cathy was in her element as she loves to see family members; often working away she has missed family occasions.  Beth and I just enjoyed relaxing in the general ambience of the occasion.  We soon sampled some of the hot food at the buffet and the cold buffet with a glass of wine.  I would not be driving later, when the girls and I went on to Preston, Cathy who is not drinking would drive.  The girls would be staying in a hotel near Walton le Dale, as Cathy could not stay with me at Fran’s as she is so allergic to cats.  Beth would be keeping her company.

Just as the speeches were beginning Alice, Gwyn’s delightful daughter decided to get acquainted with me. She was keen to be picked up and then decided to launch herself backwards with enthusiasm, so I had to hang onto her for dear life!  I missed Kathleen’s nephew Andrew and my eldest brother David’s tributes to Kathleen, but Alice had settled more so I could hear Kathleen’s tributes to her sister’s children and their families and her second adopted family of us six children and our families when she married my father in 1976.  She also thanked her friends and church colleagues for their support. She gave an excellent speech.

After all the socialising we all felt quite tired so we were glad to set off not long after 4pm.  I had put Cathy on my insurance so she could drive us to Preston, but in the end Cathy drove Beth to the hotel and Fran drove me to her home.  We had a lovely meal Fran had prepared and Matthew who had come back with us joined us.  Fran and I had some wine and relaxed watching a film on television.  We flopped into bed quite early as we were tired.  I slept quite well although I never sleep as deeply away from my beloved.  I enjoyed a relaxing breakfast with Fran.  Kate rang to ask if her mum could look after Jackson and Mia for an hour or so and she agreed. They came with us when Fran drove me to the hotel to meet the girls.  Having asked where Cathy and Beth were eating breakfast we went in the dining area and Jackson and Mia were already there with them.  Cathy had them entertained and kept them in order in her usual calm way.

Our journey home was even quicker and having dropped the girls off at their homes I returned to a wonderful welcome from my beloved and Piper.  It is good to go away because it is always great to come back home again.

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Friends and Family are important

On Monday 20th February Janet and Graham came to have lunch with us.  They loved eating in our new extension which looks onto the garden. They had seen our extension but this was their first experience of having a meal in our dining kitchen and they were impressed.  My beloved cooked a delicious meal for us and I did a sponge pudding.

It was good to see them and we enjoyed a good chat.  It was a lovely day so they could appreciate the new area more.

On Tuesday Christine my former colleague from work came to see me with her younger daughter Caroline.  We had a meal at our local Table Table restaurant, the Park. We each had a meal we enjoyed at a reasonable price and in the lovely surroundings of the restaurant. Caroline was asking me about how the Methodist Church works, so I explained that we are in the Nidd Valley Circuit and how I as a local preacher preach round the circuit.  I explained about the support system for new qualified ministers, who serve a couple of probationary years under the support of the Superintendant minister. Caroline was interested as she is at the moment awaiting an appointment in the Baptist church, as a newly qualified minister. Her first appointment was unsuitable for a new qualified minister so it lasted less than a year.  She is still trying to get an appointment but having trained her; the Baptist Churches seem to be unwilling to accept a single woman.  She may consider changing denominations if she can only find voluntary work in the Baptist Church.  She trained for 3 years and had to pay her own fees and fund her training, unlike the trainees in our Methodist Church.  We had a good chat and it was good to see Christine again.

In the evening we had our church council meeting.

On Wednesday Cathy came to see us and we had a good time together.  It is always good to see her, whenever she is home.  Time goes very quickly whenever we see her.

On Friday I was at the Acorn Centre supporting the students with computer skills.  I enjoy seeing them make progress

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Sunday February 19th Worship at Wesley Chapel

On Sunday February 19th our minister Rev Trevor Dixon led worship at our chapel, Wesley Chapel. Worship began when we sang, ‘New every morning is the love.’  Trevor then led the prayers of adoration, praise and the confession.  We sang, ‘Be still for the presence of the Lord’ before we heard Leviticus 19.1,2,9-18 and 1 Corinthians 3.10,11,16-23 read.  We sang ‘Come down O love divine’ before Matthew 5.38-48 was read.

Trevor told us that there was a program list of all Methodist places of worship with their postcodes produced ten or fifteen years ago and not all the chapels listed are still in use. Chapel names often related to the street or town where it was, but the most popular name was Providence, which is God bringing good out of what was bad. Romans 8.28 tells us that; we know that in all things God works  together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Jesus’ followers were in an occupied country, so they had their problems.  However adding love to evil can have a neutralising affect turning hatred into reconciliation.  We are encouraged to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.  The Rabbi Hillel was challenged to tell an unbeliever the whole law whilst standing on one leg; he summed it up by saying treat others as you would wish to be treated and that the rest of the law was just explanation.  Love has no limitations. The rain falls on the just and the unjust.  God’s love embraces saints and sinners and we are called upon to return that same love.  Evil would then be overwhelmed by good. We are to live together as a community designed to reflect God’s love.  We must be holy as God is holy.  Leviticus 19 gives practical advice on how to do that.  It shows the people how to treat the poor and gave detailed instructions, expanding on the Ten Commandments. The whole of life belongs together and people’s lives are important; care for the poor, the rich, the blind and the deaf are the lifeblood of a community.  God gives life to everything irrespective of any response; the sun shines on evil and good.  God sees everything alive as part of the whole.  We may think of ourselves as separate individual beings, but we cannot function if we are detached from God.  We are called to form strong communities where all people are equally treated. There is no need to fight for rights if they are offered as a matter of course.  Society has been subverted by greed, fear and selfishness; we never believe that we have all we need.  Many are convinced that if they are made to share fairly with the poor and the hungry they would not enough for themselves, despite the amount of evidence to the contrary.  We have rights offered by God and can afford to be generous to others.  If we are greedy that will dispossess us.

We sang, ‘A new commandment I give unto you’ before Trevor led the prayers of intercessions and the Lord’s Prayer. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘Make me a channel of your peace.’

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Our wonderful NHS

On Monday February 6th my beloved had an earlier appointment at Harrogate Hospital with the Orthopaedic Department for his knees.  We had to wait a bit at the beginning, but there was an apology for keeping us waiting and we were advised to have an x-ray to stop us having to wait too long.  That x-ray showed there was no arthritis which is good.  The consultant tested one of the knees, the one my beloved felt was worse.  He put my beloved on the waiting list for an arthroscopy.

I enjoy walking the dog, a long walk in the morning and a shorter walk with my beloved in the evening.  Piper is much more settled now, especially as he loves to sleep with us.  He hates to be left and welcomes us as if we have been gone for days when we have been out for a couple of hours.  He goes mad jumping all over the furniture backwards and forwards until he finally settles down.  After that he follows us round closely to make sure we don’t leave him again.

On Friday I helped at the Acorn Centre again.  It was lovely to be able to help and encourage the students  on the computer again.

At the weekend I relaxed with my beloved and saw Beth on Saturday when I went out with her, before she took Piper out for a long walk with her dog Chase.

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