Candlemas thought for the day

One of the churches in Bro Ardudwy have decided that we priests preach too long, and it makes their service too long. So we have agreed to cut them down a little. So here is part of the ‘Thought for the Day’ I gave them last Sunday.

I’ve always seen Candlemas (as well as the presentation, and the old tradition of blessing the candles) as one of those hinge points in our calendar, we are in a time were we are looking from the crib, to the cross. Lent and Easter will soon be upon us!

We are at the end of our Christmas season today and we hear in that great reading about Simeon, ‘a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory to your people Israel’

Jesus, the light of the world.

Today is about light. About Jesus being the light in the world and our calling to be people of light…

We are the body of Christ in this world, we are called to shine light into darkness. We are called to make sure the world know that the light still shines.

Sometimes it may feel as if the hope of Israel – and our own hopes too – have been lost, extinguished by the harshness of the world we see around us, and the cruelty we see in the news each day…but the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.

We are called to shine light into darkness. We are called to make sure the world know that the light still shines, but how can we do this, how do we shine?

Well…. I believe that whenever we choose hope and whenever we proclaim salvation we live as children of light. Whenever we live by the fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, we are lights. Whenever we opt for what is good and true, and when we show by our lives that we take seriously our commission and the commands of God, we, each one of us, acts as a candle.

Bangor Clergy Retreat 2014. End of retreat.

We’re at the end of the retreat now, and I think it has been a very fruitful time. True I haven’t been able to do half as much reading as I wanted or planned to, but there has been some wonderful space to pray and meditate and be creative. There has also been some wonderful time to spend with people. I didn’t quite realise how much I missed my colleagues and friends from other areas of the diocese until yesterday. The evenings have been great as well, hum……..except the incident with a bottle of wine while clearing away last night. Luckily nothing was damaged.

I started the retreat thinking about balance, that life balance which keeps you sane. Whenever thinking about this topic, my mind always turns to St Benedict and his rule. Work, prayer and creativity are all hugely important, but in there right balance, so that they neither become burdensome or neglected.

I’ve also had this passage going though my head and cropping up in reading:
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6

God desires nothing from us except love. He wants us to know him, and to know him well.

Being able to know and love God requires us to stop occasionally from our busy lives and enjoy his presence, to count the blessings you have received and give thanks for them.

This retreat has been a time to stop, and count my blessings. It’s been a time to be still from the business of life. It’s been a time for reconnecting, on so many different levels.

Thanks be to God.

Bangor Clergy Retreat 2014

Well, we’re here again in Pantasaph for our annual retreat. I always have a hesitation at calling it a retreat because there is much more talking and general socialising (and drinking) then you would expect at retreat, but that may just be my experience.

I’m back on the top corridor with the library books. I was in one of these rooms the first time I stayed here, and I am very happy to return. It’s much quieter up here, and you don’t get people stopping to chat outside rooms to the same extent as you do in the lower corridors so there is a grater chance of actually getting some quiet.

This years theme is ‘Icons, images and prayer’ and is being led by Revd Christopher Perrins from the Diocese of Liverpool. We’ve only had one session so far, but it looks very promising. It’s actually reminded me of Sketch Bible which I started last year sometime. We were told on the info to bring some pencils and a sketch book, so I was able to find the sketch book I started using along side Sketch Bible. I’ll include some images from it soon. Hopefully these days will provide a spring board for some more drawings and a renewed sense of importance. I know deep down that doing this type of work is important for me to keep balanced, but things being as they have been recently, that type of time has been rare if it has existed at all.

I hope these days can help me to restore balance. I’ve picked out a few books to flick through as well while I’m here, one on the minor prophets I picked up in London last November, one on prayer I was given at Greenbelt and two small works from CS Lewis I was given for Christmas.

Looking forward to it, but for now I feel the need for sustenance in the form of wine. Nos da.