December - Doubt and Light

December brings dark, short, cold days and long nights; sometimes blue skies and crisp frosts add a sharp contrast.  In these dark days we sometimes wonder if the light will ever come back. The end of the year is upon us.  We look back, take stock and make promises.


Spiritually it is a good time to do something similar.  I find every time I re-read a familiar Bible story I see something new that I haven't seen before.  It is good to read a story again, over learn, memorise and cherish those moments of insight.  The Christmas story is retold this month and the triumph of light vanquishing darkness begins again.  There is no shame in doubt.  Truth and belief are often found through examining the flaws in the opposite argument.  Christianity offers answers to the difficult questions.  The dark things in life are not of God, shadows define light, they show what it is not.


Jesus was born in a dark place, a stable, he was born at a dark time - we are told of King Herod trying to find him to kill him, and at a time of dark forces around him, namely the religious and secular leaders of the time.  Yet the radiance of Jesus shines through the stories of his life from birth to death to resurrection.


A bleak heart can be made joyful by his solace and light.  May we all find joy, love and peace this month and always in the light of Jesus Christ our Saviour.  





Zechariah doubts the good news the angel brings to him regarding the birth of John the Baptist.

(The full story of John the Baptist is told in Luke's Gospel Ch. 1) 


Luke Ch. 1 v. 11 - 19

'Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.  When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.  But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name of John.  He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.  ..... Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well on in years?" The Angel answered, "I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news." '


Jairus' Daughter

(Luke Ch. 8 V. 40 - 56  - for the full story of Jairus daughter)

The people doubt Jesus.


Jesus had been asked to heal Jairus' daughter.  Jesus was delayed on the way and Jairus was told......

v 49 ' "Your daughter is dead," he said.  "Don't bother the teacher anymore."  Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed." ............... Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. "Stop wailing," Jesus said.  "She is not dead but asleep."  They laughed at him knowing she was dead.  But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!"  Her spirit returned and at once she stood up........Her parents were astonished.'



Luke Ch. 24 v. 36 - 43

The Disciples doubt the living presence of Jesus.


Following his death, Jesus appears to the Disciples.

..........Jesus himself stood among them and said to them. "Peace be with you."  They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?

Look at my hands and my feet.  It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."  


John Ch. 20 v. 24 - 28

Thomas doubts the testimony of the other disciples.


'Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with the Disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"  But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."  A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them.  Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said.  "Peace be with you!"  Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe."  Thomas said to him.  "My Lord and my God!"




Isaiah Ch. 9 v. 2

'The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.'


Psalm 119 v. 105

'Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.'


John Ch. 1 v. 4 - 9

'In him was life and that life was the life of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.'

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.  The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.'


John Ch. 5 v. 35  Jesus said -

"John was a lamp that burned and gave light and for a time you chose to enjoy his light.'


John Ch. 8 v. 12

'When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'


2 Corinthians Ch. 4 v. 6

'For God, who said  "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.'


Matthew Ch. 5 v. 14 - 15

' "You are the light of the world.  A City on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise you Father in heaven." '


1 Corinthians Ch. 4. v. 4 - 5

'Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes.  He will bring light to what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts.   At that time each will receive his praise from God.' 


2 Corinthians Ch. 4. v. 16 - 18

'Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. '



There are some lovely hymns about light, here are some of the words from three of them.


1. Thou, whose almighty word


Thou whose almighty word

chaos and darkness heard, 

and took their flight;

hear us, we humbly pray,

and where the gospel day

sheds not is glorious ray,

let there be light.


Spirit of truth and love,

Life-giving holy Dove,

Speed forth thy flight;

Move on the water's face,

Bearing the lamp of grace,

And in earth's darkest place

Let there be light!


2. Lead Kindly Light


Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom

   Lead thou me on!

The night is dark, and I am far from home;

   Lead Thou me on! 

Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene: one step enough for me.



3. O love that wilt not let me go 


O light that followest all my way,

I yield my flickering torch to thee:

My heart restores its borrowed ray,

That in thy sunshine's blaze its day

May brighter, fairer be.  



A prayer to finish - Numbers Ch. 6 v. 26


' "The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make His face to shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you,

And give you peace." '



Fountains Abbey cloisters

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At last a bright day came to show the sunshine and shadows in the local wood.

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The shadow of the cross appeared for a short time.

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One candle seems so bright in darkness.

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Thornton Dale railway station lamp. The village name was without the 'le'  in those days!

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T. light showing the Nativity scene, from a stained glass window at Chartres Cathedral.

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A Shadowy, sparkly T. light.

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​November - Digging Deeper

There is some mystery about November with its shorter darker days, scattering leaves and rainy mists.  The natural world slows down to sleep, gather resources, hibernate, and conserve strength.  Digging over the garden I unearthed several bulbs and noted the new fresh root growth before replanting to enable them to grow and spread. 

Perhaps November is a good time for spiritual reflection, digging deeper, looking under the surface and peeling back layers of meaning to gain insight. 

For Christians our faith is rooted in Jesus; his humanity is exemplified in perfect leadership, his actions are a model for our behaviour and he vanquished the fear of death.  He lived all our emotions and sensory experiences and he never failed to show mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and loving understanding.  His God given divinity was gradually revealed to those around him and the wider community.


 Hopefully, the readings will help us to dig deeper and unfold the mystery of the Humanity and Divinity of Jesus.  The great Christian themes of Truth, Love, Forgiveness and Faithfulness all shine through to inspire, nourish, and encourage us.

We are truly fortunate to be able to look back through time with the lens of history and see and feel the whole story come to life from start to finish.





Luke Chapter 2 v. 6 (Jesus is born.)

'...the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn.'


Luke Ch. 2 v. 40

'And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom....'


Luke Ch. 2 v. 46 – 47 (Mary and Joseph look for their boy Jesus.)

'After three days they found him in the Temple Courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.'


Matthew Ch. 4 v. 1 - 11 (Jesus is hungry and is tempted by Satan to compromise the humanity of his ministry.)

'Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."  Jesus answered, "It is written. 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'

Then the Devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:

'He will command his angels concerning you,

and they will lift you up in their hands,

so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'

Jesus answered, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.'


John Ch. 2 v. 13 - 16 (Jesus shows anger.)

' "When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" '


Matthew Ch. 15 v. 32 (Jesus shows compassion.)

'Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way." '

(From the Feeding of the Five Thousand, Matthew Ch. 15 v. 29 – 39)


Luke Ch. 5 v. 15 - 16. (Jesus heals the sick and experiences the need to withdraw and regain strength.)

'Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.'


John Ch. 11 v. 32 (Jesus weeps.)

'When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked.

"Come and see, Lord." they replied.

Jesus wept.' 

(From the story of the raising of Lazarus John Ch. 11)


Mark Ch. 15 v. 36 - 37 (Jesus dies on the cross.)

'One man ran, filled a sponge with vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down," he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.'


John Ch. 13 v. 34 - 35 (Jesus loves.)

' "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." '


There are so many passages in the Bible showing the humanity of Jesus and how he experienced our emotions; for example, betrayal - Luke Ch. 22 v. 47 48, rejection - Matthew Ch. 13 v. 57, conflict - Luke Ch. 5 v. 21.





Luke Ch. 1 v. 26 - 37

'In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you."

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel "since I am a virgin?"  The angel answered, "The Holy spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." '


Matthew Ch. 3 v. 11 and v. 16 (From the stories of John the Baptist.)

' "I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." '


John baptises Jesus.

'As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water.  At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well

pleased." '


Jesus performs many miracles.

Jairus' Daughter

Luke Ch. 8 v. 41 - 56

'Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. .................While Jesus was speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," he said. "Don't bother the teacher any more."  Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid' just believe, and she will be healed."  When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. "Stop wailing," Jesus said, "She is not dead but asleep."  They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!"  Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.'


God affirms Jesus' divinity in the spiritual presence of Moses and Elijah.

Luke Ch. 9 v. 28 - 36

'.... he (Jesus) took Peter, John, and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. .............. While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him. When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and told no-one at that time what they had seen.'


Jesus' Teachings reveal his divinity 

John Ch. 15 v. 1 - 8

' "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." '


Those nearest to us know us best.... 

Matthew Ch. 16 v. 13 - 16

'When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"  They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah, and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."  "But what about you?" he asked.  "Who do you say I am?"  Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ the Son of the living God." '


Even Jesus' enemies recognised his Godliness ......

Matthew Ch. 27 v. 54 .... At the death of Jesus -

'When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"


The Resurrection of Jesus

Matthew Ch. 28 v. 2 - 7  

'There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.  The angel said to the women "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here, he has risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him.' " 


Luke Ch. 24 from v. 13 - 35 After the death of Jesus two believers chat as they walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

'.......They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.  As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognising him.  He asked them "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"  They stood still, their faces downcast.  One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days? ...........................As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going further.  But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening........... When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight.  They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?".......................  "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon" Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognised by them when he broke the bread.'


This short passage reveals Jesus' last moments, before the centuries envelop this story, and we are left to dig deeper into the Scriptures and to look for him in the testimony of others and our own lives.

Luke Ch. 24 v. 50 - 52

'When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And they stayed continually at the temple praising God.'



A Hymn of Praise - Come Let us Sing of a Wonderful Love


Come let us sing of a wonderful love,

tender and true.

Out of the heart of the Father above,

Streaming to me and to you:

Wonderful love

dwells in the heart of the Father above.


Jesus, the Saviour, this gospel to tell,

Joyfully came.

Came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell,

Sharing their sorrow and shame.

Seeking the lost,

Saving, redeeming at measureless cost.


Come to my heart, O Thou wonderful love,

Come and abide,

Lifting my life till it rises above

Envy and falsehood and pride,

Seeking to be

Lowly and humble, a learner of Thee.

1. and 2.  These were taken in Dalby Woods.

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Tree Roots Dalby 2.jpg

3. Autumn Spire - Mountain Ash

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4. Thornton le Dale Pond

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October - Our Five Senses + One!

October, and Autumn is underway now and there is plenty for our senses to experience.  Fuchsias, Cyclamen, Sedums and many flowering shrubs are a cheerful sight in the gardens.  Autumn colours are developing all around us and it is a month to enjoy the fruits of our labour and harvest of the fields.  The Ivy Hedge in our garden is alive with the sound of several kinds of Bees, it is a joy to stand near and listen. 


Our senses help us to experience the world and stay connected but are our perceptions always complete?


Eyes    - for looking but do we really see?

Ears     - for hearing but do we really listen?

Mouth  - for tasting but do we really savour?

Hands  - for touching but do we really feel with discernment? 

Nose     - for smelling but do we really recognise and enjoy the aroma?


Our 6th sense usually denotes an extra special knowing or insight; I feel it is also our spiritual sense.  A multisensory experience combines input into several channels at the same time.  Traditionally Churches have provided this powerful experience.


There are many stories in the Bible which depict sensory experiences.  These vivid sensory experiences are imagined by us in tranquility and for a moment become our own.  

So linger, listen, take the long view and a new look.  Savour and digest. 




The healing of the blind man  (named Bartimaeus - an extra detail found in Mark's Gospel. Ch. 10.)


Luke Ch. 18 v. 35 - 42  


'As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard the crowd going by he asked what was happening. They told him "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."  

He called out, "Jesus son of David have mercy on me!" 

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David have mercy on me!"

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him.  When he came near, Jesus asked him "What do you want me to do for you?" 

"Lord I want to see," he replied.

Jesus said "receive your sight, your faith has healed you."  Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God.  When all the people saw it, they also praised God.'


Matthew Ch. 6 v. 22 & 23  Regarding spiritual insight, Jesus said:-


"The eye is the lamp of the body.  If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness!  If then the light within you is darkness , how great is that darkness!"  



Samuel learns to listen to God

Samuel 1 Ch. 3 v.4 -9


'Then the Lord called Samuel.  Samuel answered, "Hear I am. " And he ran to Eli and said "Here I am; you called me."

But Eli said, "I did not call, go back and lie down. So he went and lay down.  Again the Lord called, "Samuel!"  And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."

"My son, "Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down."

Now Samuel did not know the Lord; The word of the Lord had not been revealed to him.

The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."

Then Eli realised that the Lord was calling the boy.  So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.' 


Just after the parable of the sower Matt. Ch. 13 v. 3-9, Jesus explains the meaning.

Matt. 13 v. 19 - 23


"When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.  This is the seed sown along the path.  The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time.  When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.  The one who received the word that fell among thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.  But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it.  He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  



The Wedding at Cana

John Ch. 2 v. 1 - 12

'On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee, Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."

"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied "My time has not yet come."

His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you.

Nearby stood six stone jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants. "Fill the jars with water;" so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."  They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.  He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.  Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, `"Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."


The Last Supper and the first communion 

Matthew Ch. 26 v. 26 - 29

'While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying "Take and eat; this is my body."

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying. "Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until the day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."


Matthew Ch. 5 v. 13 Jesus said:-

"You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."



Jesus heals a bleeding woman

Luke Ch. 8 v. 42 -48

'As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.  She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

"Who touched me?" Jesus asked.  

When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you."

But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me."

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet.  In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.  Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you, Go in peace."


Jesus heals a man with leprosy

Mark Ch. 1 v. 40 - 43

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean."  

Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  "I am willing," he said.  "Be clean!"  Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured."




Luke Ch. 7 v. 36 - 48

 'Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.  When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at  his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.  Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.  When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner."

Jesus answered him. "Simon, I have something to tell you."

"Tell me Teacher" he said.

"Two men owed money to a certain money-lender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both.  Now which of them will love him more?"

Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled."

"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

Then he turned towards the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house.  You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much.  But he who has been forgiven little loves little.

Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."





This is why Jesus spoke to the people in parables .....

Matthew Ch. 13 v. 13 - 18

"Though seeing, they do not see;

though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah

"'You will be ever hearing but never understanding;

you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

For this people's heart has become calloused;

they hardly hear with their ears,

and they have closed their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

hear with their ears,

understand with their hearts

and turn, and I would heal them.'


'But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.  For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.'




From the Hymn - 'I heard the Voice of Jesus Say


I heard the voice of Jesus say:

'Behold, I freely give

The living water, thirsty one,

Stoop down and drink and live.'

I came to Jesus, and I drank

Of that life-giving stream;

My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,

And now I live in Him.


I heard the voice of Jesus say:

'I am this dark world's Light;

Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise,

And all thy day be bright.'

I looked to Jesus, and I found

In Him my Star, my Sun;

And in that light of life I'll walk,

Till travelling days are done.'

Forge Valley

In the distance you can see the head of Forge Valley.  During the last Ice Age, melt water formed a large lake to the north of the Valley.  This lake eventually overflowed and the resulting fast flowing water cut the steep sided valley we see today.  This is now the route of the River Derwent, the river of life to Ryedale. 

A local field of stubble, a job well done and a harvest gathered in.

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Some garden flowers and leaves which give brightness to October

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September - Change, Unchanged, Transformation


You can almost feel the world turn in September.  The year presses on and we say goodbye to Summer and look towards Autumn.  Leaves are fading, seeds have formed and there is a bright chill in the air at times.  I tried to think of something in life which never changes, I came up with the rotation of the seasons, but even that has a caveat as we shall see in the readings.  

In a temporal, fluctuating and fleeting world, we can, however, be assured that God never changes.  The message of Christ written as good news two thousand years ago has not changed, will never change and is still as relevant today and will always be so.  

This radical message has the power to change hearts and minds and transform lives.


Malachi Ch. 3 v.6 

'I the Lord do not change.'


Hebrews Ch. 13v. 8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.'


James Ch. 1 v. 17

'Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.'


Genesis Ch. 8 v. 22

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.


Isaiah Ch. 43 v. 18, 19

'Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See I am doing a new thing.'


Romans Ch. 12 v. 2

'Don't let yourself be squeezed into the shape dictated by the present age.  Instead be transformed by the renewing of your minds.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.'


(Paul's conversion is the most startling story of transformation.  Nothing was the same in his life after this, even his name)  


'Meanwhile Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples.  He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them prisoners to Jerusalem.  As he neared Damascus on his journey suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? "Who are you Lord," Saul asked.

"I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,"  he replied.  "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."


2 Corinthians Ch 3 v. 18

'God accepts us as we are.  But by his Grace he does not leave us where we are.'


From the Hymn I Cannot Tell


'I cannot tell how he will win the nations,

How he will claim his earthly heritage,

How satisfy the needs and aspirations

Of East and West, of sinner and of sage

But this I know, all flesh will see His glory,

And He shall reap the harvest he has sown,

And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendour,

When He the Saviour, Saviour, of the world, is known.'

Fossils, crystals and shells

This collection has undergone tremendous change in the past, but the textures are so beautiful now.

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Cheese Press

I was surprised and rather delighted by the changed use of this old cheese press seen in Wensleydale.

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The Fungi is working on changing and recycling this fallen piece of wood.

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Slates found near an old slate mine in the Dales.

One day the mines closed, the miners put down their tools never to return.  The remaining slates were left in a heap and nothing was the same again.

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August - Earth, Air, Fire and Water


Recently there have been several incidents of extreme climate conditions around the world; our country occasionally faces challenging weather conditions too.  Closer to home in Ryedale our farmers will be thankful for the lovely weather which will lead to a good harvest. 

To ensure the earth remains bountiful, we are entrusted to be responsible stewards.


Biblical stories are often amplified by the drama and power of the elements; the quiet moods of the elements are instructive too.  God's presence and the Holy Spirit are perceived through fire, wind and water; also scenes of the earth help our understanding.  

These varied images help us to energise, refresh and deepen our faith.


                Think of....

                 A blazing fire or embers dying away

                 A strong and mighty wind or a gentle breeze

                 A torrent of water or a languid stream

                 A dry, parched earth or a fruitful land



Genesis Ch. 1 v. 28 - 30

'God blessed them, God said unto them, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."  AND God said, "Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein, there is life".


Ecclesiastes Ch. 3 v. 1 - 8 

'There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under heaven:


a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh

a time to mourn and a time to dance

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend.

a time to be silent  and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.'



Acts Ch. 2 v. 1-4   The Disciples and the Holy Spirit

'When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.'


Exodus Ch. 3 v. 2 - 4  Moses meets God

'.... the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.  Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought , "I will go over and see this strange sight - why the bush does not burn up."  When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush.  "Moses! Moses!"  And Moses said "Here I am."



Acts Ch. 27 v. 9 - 23  Paul and the Shipwreck

' ......I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives.... When a gentle south wind began to blow they thought they had obtained what they wanted...

....Before long, a wind of hurricane force called the "north easter" swept down from the island. ......We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard.  

......We finally gave up all hope of being saved.  (Paul said) ".....But now I urge you to keep up courage because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.  Last night an Angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said"  "Do not be afraid Paul."


1 Kings Ch. 19 v. 11 - 13  The Lord Appears to Elijah

'The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by."

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.'



John Ch. 4 v. 7 - 14  Jesus speaks to the woman at the well.

'When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?"  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)  The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.  How can you ask me for a drink." (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans).  Jesus answered her "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."  "Sir." the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with the well is deep.  Where can you get this living water?   Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his flocks and herds?"  Jesus answered , "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."


Revelation Ch. 22 V. 1 -2  & v. 17

Then the Angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.  On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."

..."Whoever is thirsty , let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."

This field drain in Ryedale is an example of good stewardship.  The incredible network of earth drains made growing crops possible; they were constructed in the C19 and are very deep and effective and continue to serve this area.  This one was decorated with Wild Teasels! 



Parched earth

This was taken on a local path and shows parched, cracked earth.  A day or two later the cracks had joined up with an inflow of rain.


Cloud formation

This was taken right over our house, the clouds had blown into a Grey Mare's Tail cloud formation.



As I watched this fire, I was thinking about Acts Ch. 2 v. 1 - 4  and imagined the light, heat and visual effects of that extraordinary moment in time.


Confluence of rivers

I have always felt that a confluence of rivers was a special place.  This is the confluence of the River Ure and the River Cover in the Dales.


A hymn of praise

This hymn makes me think of school days and Church going; we have been reminded down the years of the need to be aware and be thankful.


For the beauty of the earth,

For the beauty of the skies

For the love which from our birth

Over and around us lies


Father unto thee we raise 

This our sacrifice of praise


July - Joy and Abundance


Our local gardens are displaying lots of colourful summer flowers at present and many gardens have rows of impressive vegetables growing steadily too.  Wildflowers are looking very pretty in the hedgerows and the wheatfields are ripening.  What a joy and blessing this provision is.  Hopefully the selection of photos below will help us to get in touch with the concepts of joy and abundance.  Both words are packed with meaning Biblically.  The Texts are pointers as to how to achieve joy and abundance in every way.  

For a good read in the Bible about sumptuous opulence and abundance, Exodus 25 onwards describes the making of the Tabernacle.  This was in part to keep safe and honour the all encompassing 10 Commandments, our timeless blueprint for life.

2 Corinthians 9 v.8

'And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work.'


Luke 6 v. 38

'Give and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.....'


Psalm 37 v. 4

'Delight yourself in the Lord 

and he will give you the desires of your heart.'


Psalm 28 v. 7

'The Lord is my strength and my shield;

   my heart trusts in him and I am helped.  

My heart leaps for joy

and I will give thanks to him in song.'


Psalm 16 v. 11

'You have made known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand.'


John Ch. 15 v.9

'As the father has loved me, so I have loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this love each other as I have loved you.'


From the Hymn of praise - The King of Love  based on the 23rd psalm.

'The King of love my shepherd is

whose goodness faileth never,

I nothing lack if I am his 

And he is mine forever.'

Geraniums and Pansies - representing joy and the vibrancy of garden flowers.


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Campions, and Bugloss  representing the delicacy and joy of wild flowers. 

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Pyramidal Orchids representing the beauty and rarity of some wild flowers. These particular Orchids grow locally in the Wolds. 

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The vegetable garden represents the order and abundance of well cultivated garden crops.

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A wheat field representing the abundance of our farmers' crops.


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