Tag Archives: Hope

The thin place. ‘There is Room for Revelation’

We’ve reached the final week of There is Room – and our theme as we conclude this journey is ‘There is Room for Revelation’.

The Christmas story is full of it – so much of it in fact – that I wonder if we to easily gloss over the breadth and height and depth of revelation we encounter in our journey through the Christmas story.

Go right back to the beginning of the gospel story. God revels through an angel to Mary she will bear a son. God reveals to Zechariah that Elizabeth will be with child in her young age. God reveals to Joseph through a dream that Mary was pregnant, despite him know the baby wouldn’t be his.

Then to shepherds on a hillside God reveals the wonder through choirs of angels, and to Magi who saw a star, and through diligent study find prophecy revealed.

And journeying on God reveals to the Magi through a dream not to go back to Herod, and to Joseph through a dream to flee to Egypt.

And all circling a baby in a manger. God revealed as man to dwell – Jesus our Immanuel.

There is so much of God’s revealing threaded through the Christmas story. Moments where the divide between heaven and earth runs thin. Where something more of God, God’s nature, God’s will, God’s plan, God’s faithfulness, God’s presence is revealed.

One of my most personal, most tangible moments of God revealing to me was in a field at Soul Survivor. 10,000 young people gathered in a massive big top. We’d been worshipping for some time, and then ther band struck up an acoustic version of Amazing Grace. Perse by verse the band began to drop out and leave the stage, until we came to sing the last verse:

When we’ve been there ten thousands years
Bright Shining as the Sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begin.

As we song that last verse, 10,000 voices, I could have heard a pin drop. In that moment I got a glimpse of what heaven might be like – I felt the divide between heaven and earth run thin and felt a certainty in the depths of my soul of God’s presence and love for me.

While that experience was a particualrly powerful one, I believe God is always speaking to us, revealing to us, moving among us – but we don’t always notice.

Speaking through dreams, angels,
Through putting a thought in our minds,
Through a conversation with someone else,
As we reflect on life’s events.
Moments when a mundane activity or an ordinary place becomes moments of divine encounter.

As we journey into a new year – let us make room to be ready to see God among us, to and experience God’s revealing. For God is with us. Alleluia. Amen.

There is Room – for God

A Grandparent was staying with one of their children, who were having building work done on the house.

They when into a bedroom to find their grandchild jumping up and down in a playpen, crying, reaching up their arms longingly saying, saying “Out! Please! Out!”

But they knew that their grandchild had been put in the playpen to keep them safe while builders were moving equipment around in the house. 

“I’m sorry my love, they said, you need to stay in.”

But the child kept crying. Their tears and outstretched arms reached deep into the grandparents heart. What could they do? The child needs to stay safe, but they were desperate to comfort them.

Finally – love found a way – the child couldn’t come out of the playpen – so they climbed in the play pen with them.

The Christmas story is one of a loving parent seeing those they love in need, and choosing to climb in with them.

God – chooses to become flesh – human, like us – and to be born as a vulnerable babe.

There was a time when God was seen as a more distant being, somewhat beyond our reach and understanding – and only interested in those who were descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That there wasn’t room for others.

But as God comes to live among us, God does the unthinkable, the unexpected, and shows that God is not above us or beyond us, or distant from us or even against us or only for a select few…

but shows God is with us and among us.
And loves all of us.

For Mary and Joseph, when they arrived in Bethlehem the usual places of hospitality were full – there was no room. But Mary and Joseph found room – they had to – Mary was about to pop! They made room for a baby, for some shepherds – and we think there would have been some animals around too. And later in the story – at the other end of the scale – magi come along too.

A right mix of beings – who all found room to come and meet the babe – who was the Son of God. And now, 2000 years later, that opportunity continues.

There is room for you in God’s story – because God in interested in everyone. God welcomes everyone. God makes room for you, me, us and all.

The story is told of a school preparing for their Christmas play. One of the focuses of the play was to reflect the radiance of Jesus. An electric bulb was hidden in the manger and all the stage lights would go off, except the one in the manger.

On the day of the performance the moment came, the lights went out.. and so did the one in the manger. There was a period of silence when a little shepherd loudly whispered – “Hey, you’ve turned of Jesus!”

As we discover There is room in God’s heart for you, for me, for us, for all, we are offered an opportunity to respond – invited to make room in our hearts for God…

In the festivities of the season,
Turkey shortages,
Delayed Christmas deliveries,
A new Christmas jumper,
That one last person on the Christmas gift list you just don’t know what to buy for
And working out who is going to have Aunty Marjorie for Christmas Day,
Let us not turn off Jesus.

Let us not forget the reason for this season.
Let us make room in our hearts and lives for the one who made room in the world to be with us, and say to us there is room for you, me, us and all.

The Flourishing of Creation: There is Room for all of Nature

If you’re a Great British Bake Off fan, you might remember 2018 series winner Rahul. Rahul left a mark on me, not so much because of his amazing baking, but for who and how he was.

After judging, the programme shows little video clips of the bakers reflecting on their successes – or failures, and the comments from the judges.

Rahul, on numerous occasions would be in mid flow talking to camera and then suddenly divert his eyes another way and say ‘Oh look at those beautiful peonies’, or ‘ooo look at that cute puppy’.

At the time I was struck by the way he noticed & was distracted by the beauty of creation. But I was also equally struck by the fact he kept apologising for it. He apologised for noticing the beauty of nature.

nature is part pf creation – part of God’s world – and so we should notice and marvel at its beauty. And we shouldn’t apologise for that! Scripture is plastered with such awe and wonder – and so should we be. For when creation flourishes – so too will humanity flourish.

Take Isaiah 35 for example:

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.

They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Isaiah 35:1-2; 5-6; 10.

Isaiah prophecies that creation will flourish with new growth, and as creation flourishes, so too will humanity – for the all creation together will be overflowing with joy.

It might feel a bit strange to be thinking about creation in the midst of Advent – isn’t advent about Jesus – celebrating his first coming to earth…and anticipating his return?

Well yes – but I say, why did Jesus come?

John 3:16-17, perhaps the most well known New Testament verse says:

6 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him

John 3:16-17

Notice that, while humanity is given particular mention – it is to the world that Christ comes, to save the world.

I hate to burst our human-centric bubble… but the world is not humanity alone. Humanity is not the centre of the universe., and that’s a truth that has been passed down for centuries… at the end of Jonah 4 we find God say to Jonah:

And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

Jonah 4:11

In God’s heart – there is room for those like us.
There is room for those not like us.
There is room for those who, like the Ninevites, were unaware of the truth of who God was…
There is Room in God’s heart for all creation.

Christ’s salvation work is not just for humanity – but for all of nature. Such is Christ’s heart and love for all life.

Christ comes to the world, to make a way and room for all.
All humanity, and all creation,
To have hope, to grow and to flourish.

And calls us into partnership with him to share the good news,
To invite people to experience the salvation of God,
To care for creation,
To live and love in hope – throughout the world.

To make room for all the world to know God’s love, hope and salvation. Because when God reigns – there is room for all of nature.

Prepare the way – There is Room for difference

In my first year of secondary school, there was a woodland behind the school, and in the woodland lived ‘Knocker’. Knocker got the nickname because, as the story goes, he hid in the woods and knocked on the trees to scare people away.

He was different, lived differently, and was shunned, gossiped about and avoided. but looking back, I have no idea what sort of person he actually was. All I knew about him was based on the bias I’d unconsciously built up through stories others had told, regardless of what the truth actually is.

John the Baptist is one who may well have stimulated similar reactions.


John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 

Matthew 3:4

The point Matthew is making is that John the Baptist was different. In his lifestyle. In his appearance. And in his message.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 
This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’”

Matt 3:2-3

For 400 years – the period between the Old and New testaments, there had been a perceived silence from God. No prophets, no message. Then from the wilderness comes – the literal wilderness John lived in, and the metaphorical wilderness of this silence, comes a voice saying:


“Prepare the Way!
The Promised One is coming.
Something is about to happen. To change. To transform.
Are you ready?


John the Baptist, in his difference and diversity, is a trailer for the God who is about to do something different. Radical. Revolutionary. To come and dwell with us, as Immanuel, a baby who changes everything.

In doing something different God doesn’t thrown the past out with the bathwater, but takes the story into a new chapter, where prophecy is fulfilled, when the promises of God are made known differently, where the message of love and grace is repacked and transformed – into a living, walking, breathing human being.

In Christ, God did something different.
And still today, God is at work, moving among us many ways.
Known and unknown.
Expected and unexpected.
Making Room for diversity and difference.
Because in God’s story,
When God reigns,
There is room – for difference.

God makes room for you. For me. For us. for all.
Those like us,
Those different to us.

Those like John the Baptist. Those like ‘knocker’ who are different to us, seem strange, unpredictable or unusual.

So In our story,
Will we let God reign?
Will we prepare the way to make room for the difference of God?
The difference of one another?
The transformation that comes from embracing the radical and unexpected of God and God’s kingdom.
Will we make room for difference?


“All This for You”: There is Room for You and Me

As we begin the journey of Advent, the churches I serve are following the theme ‘There is Room’, and in week 1, thinking about how, when God reigns, There is Room for You and Me.

Last Saturday, I had an experience while leading a baptism service that took the truth about how There is Room in God’s story for all to a whole new level.

I’ve done numerous Baptism in the last few years, but always for toddlers. So last Saturday was the first time I baptised a baby.

The baby I was baptising was about 6-7 months old, and as I held this helpless, dependant, innocent child in my arms, looking at his peace-filled, sleeping face, and spoke some of the baptism liturgy over them, I was somewhat overwhelmed…


for you Jesus Christ came into the world;
for you he lived and showed God’s love;
for you he suffered death on the Cross;
for you he triumphed over death,
rising to newness of life;
for you he prays at God’s right hand:
all this for you,
before you could know anything of it.

In your Baptism,
the word of Scripture is fulfilled:
‘We love, because God first loved us.’

Methodist Baptism Liturgy, Methodist Worship Book p.92-3.

I had to take a breath to remind myself I was in front of a room full of people and was leading a service! In that moment, it had become as if it was just me and this innocent baby. Like nothing else mattered but the words of truth I was speaking over them – that the truth of God’s gift to them is that There is Room.

It took the grace of God to a whole new level for me. An innocent baby who cannot yet comprehend or communicate an understanding of God’s grace – yet God outpours his grace anyway. “All this for you, before you could know anything of it.”

I had the great privilege of declaring that truth to them, their family and friends, and welcoming them into God’s family.

God’s grace transcends our human understanding. Transends our western obsession with needing to be deserving, to earn and achieve all we have.

God’s grace is outpoured on the world – through the life and love of an innocent baby, born in a manger. A baby who declares There is Room in God’s Story for you, for me, for us, for all.


Find out more about Advent & Christmas events at Bognor Regis, Felpham and Westergate Methodist Churches as we declare There is Room .

Advent & Christmas 2022 at Bognor Regis Methodist Church

Advent & Christmas 2022 at Felpham Methodist Church

Advent & Christmas 2022 at Westergate Methodist Church

There is always hope for everyone

Read: Luke 13:1-9

Pilate is documented in the bible, and other historical documents as someone who did things that irritated the local Jewish population. Today’s reading connects with one such story, when a group of Galilean pilgrims offering sacrifices in the temple had been slaughtered in the temple by Pilates troops. Human blood mixed with the blood of animal sacrifices that were so central to Jewish worship – the Temple itself was meant to be a spiritual place of worship – and Pilate had polluted and desecrated it.

It’s a gruesome event of history that might leave us wondering how on earth a human in a position of power and resposibility can be so inhumane. But the question Jesus is asked about this event is perhaps just as worrying. ‘Have these Galileans suffered like this because they were worse sinners than other Galileans?’.

There is a danger we all face, as Christian people to think of ourselves as holier than others. As less tainted by sin. History tells us the church has done much damage to itself by having an attitude of looking down its nose at other people, and too often it has resulted in people feeling rejected by the very community in the world they should have discovered a welcome.

Jesus responds with a parable of a fig tree that bore no fruit. The owner of the tree thinks it should be cut down, but the gardener, who knows about these things, says wait a little longer, I’ll give it some nurture and care, and let us see what happens next year.

The parable teaches us that we should never give up on the hope that someone might bear fruit by repenting and turning to Christ. We are called not to be judge of others, but to nurture and care for all the trees in the orchard that is our community, with the conviction that there is always hope for everyone to discover the truth of God’s saving grace.

Follow Up: Who is there in the circles of your life who you long to see discover Jesus for themselves. Make a list of their names and pray for them daily.


Today’s reflection is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

The best is yet to come…

This week’s lectionary gospel reading comes from John 2, where we read of John’s first account of a Jesus-miracle; water turned to wine.

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 

His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 

When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ 

11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

It was normal in those days that the best wine would be served first, then once everyone was a bit drunk the ‘not-best’ wine could come out and no one would be any the wiser because they were already a bit drunk anyway. So the idea that the best wine had been saved till last ran counter to the cultural norms of hospitality. It was absurd to think that the best had been saved till last.

I wonder if this is the metaphor John was using when he placed the story of this Jesus-miracle where he did in his gospel. Pointing out to the reader that after many centuries of God providing for the people he calls his, now the next chapter is unfolding, and it is the best bit.

But interestingly, John also tells of mother Mary’s role in this miracle. Jesus is pushed on by his mother to make this miracle happen. Who might God be speaking to you through today, pushing you on to fulfil Gods plan for your life?

Follow up: Reflect on how God has spoken to you through others in your life. give thanks to God for them.


Today’s thought for the day is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

New Year

New Year.
New Start.
Refresh.
Refocus.

Pray.
Dare to Listen. 

Dare to Dream. 
Dare to Hope.
Dare to Love. 

Dare to Fly.
To soar on wings like eagles.
To run and not grow weary. 
To live in the strength and power of God. 

Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
    
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
    
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
    gives fresh strength to dropouts.

For even young people tire and drop out,
    young folk in their prime stumble and fall.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
    They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
    they walk and don’t lag behind.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (The Message)

‘This love we got is the best of all’ – Merry Christmas

I always look forward to hearing new Christmas tunes and carols, and watching the music video’s that come with them. This year I’ve been struck by Ed and Elton’s ‘Merry Christmas’.

Every time I watch this, I see reference to another past Christmas hit. Slade, Wham, Snowman, even a Sausage Roll!

If feels like they’ve looked back at all the classic Christmas tunes that people have most loved and tried to combine all the ‘feel-good’ buts into one video.

It has a wonderful, Christmassy feel about it, but the song is also very real. It starts with the truth that Christmas 2021 is also a Christmas of lament, remembering all that we have gone though these last 2 years…

I know there’s been pain this year but it’s time to let it go
Next year you never know, but for now
Merry Christmas

As we remember the Christmas story, the declaration of angels saying God’s promised one has come, and will transform the world…Mary, Joseph, shepherds responding to God’s message… there was much they didn’t know. But for now, in the moment, they look in awe and wonder at the Christ-child, who is love that is the best love of all.

We’ll dance in the kitchen while embers glow
We’ve both known love, but this love that we got is the best of all
I wish you could see you through my eyes then you would know
My god you look beautiful right now
Merry Christmas

This Christmas I want you to see the Christmas story, not through Elton’s eyes – but through God’s eyes. God who wants us to see and know that in Christ we find the ultimate expression of God’s love.
Love that has no terms and conditions attached,
love that shows no judgement,
Love simply because God can do nothing but love us.

Just as we may well spend some of Christmas visiting or spending time with people we love, so too did God step down from heaven and become human, to spend time with us.
To live as we live, because God loves us.

So as Christmas comes around once again,
here comes the annual reminder of God’s love come down to earth,
and to us.

I feel it when it comes
Every year helping us carry on
Filled up with so much love
All our family and friends are together where we all belong
Merry Christmas everyone

We’ve had a tough 2 years, and while the landscape is changing it is still going to be tough for while longer… but the love of God we discover in Jesus helps us carry on through the highs and lows of life.

And that gift of love is not only for us to keep and cherish for ourselves, it is also one we are encouraged to share.

There are many ways of encouraging, of giving, of sharing, of caring for and loving the people around us. In our words, our actions, our giving and offering hospitality.

Christmas is a time to give and share and encourage,
Christmas a time to love,
because it is through the best love of all we discover in Jesus
that the world, and we all, can find true hope.

this love that we got is the best of all
I know there’s been pain this year but it’s time to let it go
Filled up with so much love
Merry Christmas everyone

“Do not be afraid”

A personal reflection on Advent, where I find myself in Minsitry and Gabriel’s words, Do not be afraid’ – with thanks to Tim Lea’s video ‘No to Fear’.


The angel said to Mary, ‘Do not be afraid, for you have found favour with God. 

Luke 1:30

I took up running earlier in the Autumn. In was loving getting out first thing in the morning and jogging along as dawn began to break. I managed to capture some of those moments in photo’s – but often they photo’s didn’t do justice to the moments – just as the cover photo above demonstrates! it is hard to capture the dawn on a phone camera because light is sparse, and the conditions of the day still uncertain.

Then I got a cold, and the weather turned colder, wetting, darker, and I gave up – but I keep telling myself I will try again in Spring when the conditions are better.

As I joruney through advent 2021, I am finding the conditions around me really challenging. The pandemic began 18 months after I began ministry here on the Sussex Coast and now 22 months later the pandemic is still with us. I think sometimes we forget how much of an upheaval the pandemic has been, turning every aspect of our lives upside down, and challenging every assumption of what normal means.

In ministry right now there are many pressures around us and among us. There are practical uncertainties. There are quesitons about what activity to resume, and how to do it. There are questions about whether the conditions around are right to do something new, or additional, or to resume something else.

And all that comes within a culture that recognises the decline of the church in the UK and a sense of urgency that we must seek growth, numerically and spiritually.  

I’m finding this period the hardest of all the periods of the pandemic so far. This seemingly endless period of of tentative, anxious, uncertain emergence from lockdown and transition to work out how to ‘live with covid’ when we don’t know how to do that well yet is exhausting, and draining let alone factoring in the advent of Omicron and all the anxieties about the future of the church.

I’ve been feeling this for a while, but only more recently begun to make sense of it enough that I can begin to articulate it – largely because last week I actually did have the quarter days I had put in my diary – rather than let other expectations and demands crowd out the space.

Then at the end of last week God has encouraged me through a Fuelcast Video that reflected on Gabriel’s words: ‘Do not be afraid’. I encourage you to watch it if you can by clicking this link

‘Do not be afraid’ – the opposite of this is to fear. I’ve realised that all the conditions of ministry I’ve mentioned above have been feeding a sense of fear within me. In the video Tim suggests fear can kill faith & stifle holy creativity because our eyes become focused on the circumstances we find ourselves in, rather than on Jesus. 

That has lead me to think again about Sabbath, divine and holy rest, offering space for contemplation, basking in God’s presence & opportunity for healing and wholeness. I’ve been pondering whether my focus should be more heavily on rest, on my being, on our wellness – rather than on activity and concerns about the future. 

That seems ironic given we’re in December and I have a whole host of Christmas activities to plan for! 

But as the video reminds us – God’ timing is perfect and will bring things forth at the right moment – if we are making space for God – and we do that through pausing, resting, Sabbath-ing.

Advent is a season of waiting that quite often the church pays some level of lip service to in it’s drive to make the most of the opportunties for mission and outreach. And as admirable as that may be, I wonder whether our desperate rush to get to Christmas means we skip Advent’s spiritual reminder that time is God’s. That just as God’s people both patiently and impatiently waited for Emmanuel, God’s moment came.

Perhaps we need to focus more heavily on rest, on recover, on being compassionate to ourselves, each other, to the church – to allow ourselves space to turn from fear to faithfulness, and trust that God’s moment will come.