Sunday, 18 May 2014

What's he up to?

What's he up to?

Rather than attempt to share what I've been up to when my sabbatical is over, I thought I'd have a go at a blog.  If I get the hang of it, I may continue when I return to normal ministry. It's intended for members of St Nic's Nottingham.

These entries will not necessary be sequential. I've already had 4 weeks away with far too many experiences to share. I'll probably share some of these retrospectively.

Two Bible readings (Exodus 34, Luke 4) are probably a good place to start. It can sound very pretentious to draw parallels with your own life from the story of Moses going up the mountain to receive the (second set of) 10 commandments and Jesus' temptation. However, the two passages offer a framework for what this period of leave is all about:

  • To hear from God and emerge with clear direction for the people I lead.
  • To be transformed by his presence. (I hope that the afterglow won't fade too quickly!)
  • To win battles in private so as to be stronger when I'm in public ministry again. 
If you are praying for me, please pray for these things. 

So far...

Jane and I began with a trip to Yorkshire in Roy and Helen's campervan. The best day was spent walking from Staines to Whitby. It was in Staines that my mother, an unchurched teenager from a big council estate in Manchester, gave her life to Christ. I found it very moving to think of the amazing consequences of that event for us as a family and for so many other people.

Then followed a period of retreat - three days at Launde Abbey with Jeremy, Paul and Chris, three ordained friends I trained with. We have been meeting like this, twice a year, for 23 years. Our friendship, commitment to one another, openness and trust is really precious. (The photo's a few years old, as you may be able to tell!)

After Launde I took my bike by train to Rhyl and then cycled to St Bueno's, an Ignatian retreat centre, for a six-day guided retreat. The whole 6 days were spent in silence except for about 30 minutes spent with a spiritual director at the start of each day. She suggested passages of scripture to meditate on and use in prayer throughout the day. St Bueno's featured in the BBC series 'The Big Silence'. It is a beautiful place where Gerard Manley Hopkins produced his best poetry while training for the priesthood. 

More of that later.

From St Bueno's I cycled to Liverpool where I spent 3 days with Nic and Jenny Harding. Nic is Senior Pastor of Frontline Church.

Nic and Jenny were amazing hosts, and I learned a great deal from being with them, particularly about Missional Communities and living a shared life. 

Next stop: Westwood Church, Coventry. 

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