Midweek Letters began as a resource during the Covid19 pandemic, when we were not allowed to hold public worship in the church. Our late Chaplain Fr Ron Corne wrote them, and his letters can be seen at this link: Fr Ron’s Midweek letters Below are letters written recently by our current Reader and Congregational Worship Leader.
Our regular readers will have noticed that regrettably there was no weekly message last week. This was after the sad news of the death of the Governor of the Church of England Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. At that time all our efforts were directed into preparing and arranging a suitable memorial service in All Saints Church.
The memorial service was held on Wednesday 21st. and was attended by the British Vice Consul in Tenerife – who read the lesson. A delegation from the Town Council here in Puerto de la Cruz, also leaders of other organisations and charitable institutions. In addition members of other Churches in the area, including Spanish, German, Scandinavian, and also persons of other faiths and none. All of whom wanted to pay their respects and give thanks for the 70 year reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
As part of this service it was decided to ask all participants to say The Lord’s Prayer in their own language. I believe the languages that were heard included; English, Spanish, German, Welsh, Ukrainian and I am sure others that I did not hear or were not reported. The sound that I could hear, however, reminded me of the passages in the Bible where one can read of people ‘speaking in tongues’:
Isaiah Ch 28 v 11 For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the LORD will speak to this people.
Acts Ch2 v 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.
1 Corinthians Ch 14 – which I leave for you to read for yourselves and contemplate.
I definitely heard the speaking of many tongues, in that prayer, all extolling God, and felt a great uplifting at that time.
I can only hope that the Memorial Service remains in the minds of those attending for many years.
Also, I pray that the Soul of our late Queen Elizabeth will Rest in Peace & Rise in Glory.
I’m so sad today.
For the first time, I woke up, in the morning, a few days ago and The Queen was no longer with us.
To be honest, I still can’t quite believe it. She leaves behind an incredible legacy of service and duty, working right up to the end.
What an amazing example she set.
Thank you and Rest In Peace Ma’am.
In response to the sad news we have endeavoured to keep All Saints Church open for a few hours every day for people to visit and pray or to sign or book of condolence. I was heartened however whilst ‘Church Sitting’ during this time by the number of non British people who came and passed on their condolences and thanks for a life, of duty and service, that was an example to leaders of all nations.
I offer some prayers that you may find useful at this sad time:-
Our Queen is dead, Her long life is over – but You live forever!
Our Queen is dead, Her long reign is over – but You reign forever!
Our Queen is dead, Her loving service is over – but Your love lives forever! Amen.
Almighty God, whose Son, Jesus Christ, was crowned not with gold but with thorns, and whose blood was shed to give life to the world – crown us with Your love. That we may serve one another with humility and joy and Your Kingdom come with peace on earth, through the same Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit ever One God, now and for evermore – Amen.
Merciful Father and Lord of all life, we praise you that we are made in your image and reflect your truth and light. We thank you for the life of our late Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth, for the love she received from you and showed among us. Above all, we rejoice at your gracious promise to all your servants, living and departed, that we shall rise again at the coming of Christ. And we ask that in due time we may share with your servant Elizabeth that clearer vision promised to us in the same Christ our Lord; who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen
May our late Queen Rest in Peace – and Rise in Glory!
God Save the King.
The market place was a focal point for ancient society. Much like today’s shopping Centres, people not only shopped in them, but also socialized there. That’s why they were so popular.
In Jesus’ day, every village in Palestine had a marketplace, which was usually located in an open area or where streets crossed, or near the Temple. The market had many stalls or booths, where foods or spices could be measured and sold. A visitor would find things like wheat or barley, bread, fish, olives, and figs.
The market was filled with sights and sounds and smells. Sellers would often shout at buyers to try to get them to look at their food or other items. Animals like sheep, goats, or birds that were being sold also made lots of noise. The smell of animals, cooking food, and spices filled the air.
As Jesus’ story about the man who went to the market to hire workers for his vineyard shows (Matt 20.1-16), the market was also a place where people might meet to talk or just to spend some time. Others went there because they knew that landowners often came to the market looking for workers.
I was reminded of this last Saturday when All Saints held the first ‘Car Boot Sale’ of the season, normally held on the first Saturday of the month opening at 10:00 in the morning.
As I walked round the stalls, hearing the bartering for the goods on offer, and the smells wafting from the stalls selling food and drinks, and seeing all the people attending interacting (without the need for mobile telephones), buying, selling, eating and drinking. I was heartened to see the joy and pleasure in the faces of those there.
Then I entered the Church, what a contrast – PEACE – and just the gentle sound of background choral music. There I saw a few people taking a few moments away to offer a prayer to our Lord, and take a break from the hustle and bustle going on in the adjacent car park and gardens.
I remember the prayer offered by St. Teresa of Avila:-
May today there be peace within.
May you trust your highest power that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance.
It is there for each and every one of you.
Have locum, will travel.
One of the unexpected benefits of retirement since 2010, has been the opportunity to serve as locum chaplain in different parts of the Diocese in Europe. In effect, for me, that has meant Spain and PortugaI, and the Spanish ‘costas’ in particular. At the beginning of 2019 I began a period as locum chaplain in Majorca; but as my time there was drawing to a close, the anxiety associated with Covid-19 steadily became more pressing. Three years followed when, like many other people, I obediently stayed put at home. But the taste for travel and adventure – as well as a sense of fulfillment in exercising a pastoral and teaching ministry – remained strong. So, when the chance came to serve as locum chaplain here in Tenerife North, I jumped at it.
Not everybody understands this impulse. One clergy colleague said to me that he thought I was mad uprooting myself for months from a retired life of leisure. Others in my home parish expressed concern that I might be lonely or isolated. “Do you know anybody there?” they asked with concern. “Why?” was someone else`s question. “It can’t be a career move, surely: not at your age!” At least that made me smile.
The truth is that it’s good to be reminded of the diversity of experience that ministry offers. In one sense, of course, peoples’ hopes and fears, their needs and expectations, are the same wherever they are. But the ex-pat community, perhaps, offers an even wider range of human experience and endeavour. Not everybody, after all, has the ingenuity and resilience it takes to begin a new life overseas, to put down new roots, to anticipate new horizons. Ex-pats are a special breed, and I look forward to learning more and more about them.
I should also say that I take to heart what the author of the Letter to the Hebrews says about the character of the Christian community. ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers’, he writes (Hebrews 13:2). Its said that the Queen is the only person who, when she travels abroad, is not required to have a UK passport. All the rest of us, especially since Brexit and Covid, are faced with an array of regulations and restrictions as we travel overseas. When I flew from Bristol to Tenerife in August 2022, not only did I have my Covid status registered on my smart phone, but I had paper copies too – just in case. Similarly, like most travellers, I make sure I have a photograph of my passport details and boarding pass – just in case.
By contrast when Christian people move from one community of believers to another, as St. Paul did on his missionary journeys – and many others since – we are never total strangers. So many shared assumptions and expectations serve as a passport to a common life in Christ. ‘Let nobody be a stranger here’ is a good mission statement for any church.
Another piece of Scripture that came to mind as I settled into chaplaincy responsibilities was Paul`s First Letter to the Corinthians. In his Letter, Paul is at pains to stress how Christian communities are at their best when members pull together. ‘For we are God`s servants, working together’, he writes (1. Cor. 3:9). It`s often said that society at large has become increasingly atomised in recent years – that individualism has become the default position for most of us. That may be so elsewhere; but it can never be the order of the day in the Church. As members of the Body of Christ, by baptism, we all have a role to play as labourers in the vineyard of the Lord.
It is heartening to see such values being put into effect here in Puerto de la Cruz. The chaplaincy is very fortunate to have such a willing body of workers, all of whom give so generously of their time and talent for the common good. I look forward to spending the next 10 weeks or so with you, doing what I can as locum chaplain to share the Good News of God’s Kingdom. May we minister to each other, and so become channels of his grace.
Revd Hywel Davies
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
As we prepare to return to the UK, I read that for the first time ever English Literature has slipped out of the ‘top ten’ of favourite subjects studied at A Level. It has got me thinking about words, how they are used, not least in church.
When I was at school, the first team had an annual fixture against John Motson’s Commentators XI. It was a personal highlight and one year I scored an absolute screamer. As the saying goes, the older a man gets, the faster he ran in his youth! Back in the Eighties, Motty was the BBC’s number one man with a mike – in those days it was always a man – but his pre-eminent status didn’t preclude the occasional endearing gaffe. ‘For those of you watching in black and white, Spurs are in the all-yellow strip’. That was one of Motty’s.
Each year after the game, which Motty and his motley crew of co-commentators and ex-pros always won, he would lead an assembly. Invariably, the message was a self-deprecating one … about the perils of working with words. A broadcaster puts his job on the line every time he opens his mouth or types out text. And, of course, it is no less true of each and every one of us that the words we choose to use – in casual conversation and serious debate – are powerful. They can bring hope or indefinite damage.
A career in sports commentary would have been fun; instead, I became a lawyer. Lawyers also work with words. They are forever trying to find words that fit … words that explain precisely what is allowed, and what isn’t. In legal documents, words are of necessity trapped in tortious sub-clauses. They are given a lengthy sentence.
Now as a priest, precision remains important to me. But I hope the language I employ is more elegant. And doesn’t constrain. I hope above all that the church sets words as free as the words themselves can set us free. But that only happens when words are treated with reverence … and that, I fear, happens all too rarely.
As Mark Oakley and Malcolm Guite amongst others have noted, this is not an easy time for words. Fake news and propaganda are just the tip of the iceberg. Consumerism and marketing make language seductive rather than truthful, as they lure us towards our wallets. Technology, for all its brilliance, now gives us too many words; we trip over them as they come at us from every direction, and the danger is that our care for words decreases as the words themselves proliferate. Like the sixth former who bumped into someone she had known at a previous school. He had asked her out; she couldn’t go, but was baffled by the subsequent frostiness of his friends. Puzzled, she checked her phone, and found to her horror that the message that she had thought explained that she had no free evenings until the end of term had fallen victim to the perils of predictive text: she had actually said that she wasn’t free … until the end of time!
Oakley wishes politicians would take more care with words, identifying ‘political leaders , who, in many parts of the world, now campaign in graffiti and govern in tweets. With their continual and careless talk of ‘individuals’ rather than ‘people’, of ‘losers’, ‘swarms’ and ‘sad’ failures, it all makes for a world where we see ourselves as competitors rather than communities. It leads to a world where, as has been observed, if you are not at the table you are probably on the menu’.
That’s certainly how my daughter felt after one bruising day at school not long ago. She came home complaining of not being quick enough at comebacks and put-downs. As I listened, I remembered the one and only time I had got the better of the class bully. ‘Hey, Harbridge,’ he had said. ‘Look out the window. There’s a naked man.’ Without even glancing up from my book, I calmly replied ‘Well, trust you to see him first’. Bully never bothered me again.
But was mine an enlightened response? I hardly think so. Tit for tat never is.
Words become flesh, so let’s treat them with reverence. As Oakley notes in his refreshing ‘The Splash of Words’, all life – even language – is sacramental. In church, ‘the placing of our spaces, the metaphors, rhythms, cadences and chosen vocabulary is as vital as the placing of bread and wine on the table and the pouring of water into the font’. Amen to that.
Revd Philip Harbridge
Senior School Chaplain, Millfield
Priest Vicar of Wells Cathedral
All Saints Locum, July-August 2022
Last week as I was writing the intercessions for our service on Sunday I was reminded of a reflection by Mother Teresa: “I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that He will guide me to do whatever I am supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I´m praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.”
Looking at or listening to the News we are faced with so many situations – war, flooding, drought, hunger, oppression, terrorism, medical ethics, shootings, knife crime, debt and the cost of living to name but a few – which are impacting so many across our world. It could be overwhelming reading of the issues that are faced by so many. Equally it could be that we hear or read and then move on to the next story because it doesn´t affect us. When the media outlets move on so does our concern. There is always news and it´s almost always outside of ourselves. We have the opportunity to sleep without the fear of bomb or bullet. We can worship in church without the threat of reprisals towards ourselves and our families. We are not living on an island that is now feet under water and uninhabitable. We have a choice of places to shop, with food on the shelves. We might be immigrants here in Tenerife but we are not refugees.
Some things we cannot change but there are other things that through our choices can make an impact for others in our global village. Climate change has brought sharply into focus our responsibility to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, that the life of the earth will be sustained and renewed for generations to come. So with Mother Teresa´s emphasis on our being the agents for change what could we personally do about it? Maybe less meat, maybe off setting our carbon emissions when we fly, maybe researching ways to do something and understanding how our small change can impact the bigger picture. Small changes to our home, transport, energy provider and diet can contribute in a big way to the fight against climate change. As 1 Peter 4:7-8 says, “Be intentional, purposeful and self-controlled so that you can be given to prayer. Above all constantly echo God´s intense love for one another…” Let´s pray that using our voice and using our choice we will each have an impact on our world. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Congregational Worship Leader
Traditionalists in a Church…
I was reading about Pope Francis’s recent trip to Canada and came across a remark that he made about tradition….
which set me thinking about tradition in our lives and in the Church.
Family traditions in general don’t go back more than 3 generations – that is as far as the current generation can recall. Think of what is known as the “Traditional Christmas” maybe taken from the book by Charles Dickens. We have evolved from that time with motor vehicles replacing coach and horses, and electric lights replacing candles the internet replacing post-horses etc..
Coming up to date football was traditionally considered a “Mans” Game. This has evolved to the extent that the wonderful English Ladies have now won the European Cup.
In the Church many of our readers will have been brought up using the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 which had evolved from a book of the same name dated in the mid 1500’s and which is still approved for current use. However it too has evolved to become currently the 2 volume set of ‘Services and Prayers for the Church of England’. This is the source on which our service booklets are based.
So ‘Traditions’ do evolve with time. Within the church whilst all accept the teachings of Jesus there are many different ways of expressing worship, Evangelical, Low Church, High Church etc. all different traditions. Whilst here in All Saints we are looking for a new incumbent Chaplain, our succession of locum Priests give us the opportunity to hear and savour some views from different “Traditions” to that to which our congregation are accustomed. This can only help us understand and broaden our faith.
Now what was Pope Francis’s remark that brought about my train of thought this week?
“Many people who call themselves traditionalists, they are not, they just go backwards. That is a sin.
Tradition is the living faith of the dead; indeed their attitude is the dead faith of the living. It is important to understand the role of tradition – a musician used to say the tradition is the guarantee of the future. It is not a piece that belongs in a museum.”
Let us ensure that ours is a living Faith not a dead Tradition.
As I write this the wildfires continue to burn on the slopes of Teide, impacting 5 regions of our island. As we have been faced with the Calima heat and temperatures well in the 30s I have followed with awe the stories of the many volunteer firefighters from our own and other neighbouring islands, dressed in heavy protective clothing and working in the skies and on the ground alongside the raging fires. Trusting and listening to each other they are working together to protect the homes of the 600 plus who were evacuated and to stabilise, control and extinguish 27km perimeter rings of fire.
I am also reminded that today the bishops from around the Anglican Communion gather for the 15th Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. The theme is God’s Church for God’s World – walking, listening and witnessing together. The fruit of their prayer, bible study, worship, fellowship and listening together will shape the life of the Anglican Communion for the next decade. Their biblical focus is the Book of 1 Peter. 1 Peter reflects the challenges that Peter´s communities were facing; belonging, alienation, persecution, slavery and exile. Each time we pray the Our Father we pray: “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done”. 1 Peter raises an inspiring vision of God´s Kingdom. Have a read and you will see Peter encouraging his listeners to witness in their lives to Christ´s hope and holiness.
One theme of the conference is Our Environment and Sustainable Development. Coming from many different corners of the globe those present will be able to speak to varying global crises, their impact on the most vulnerable and the Gospel call to serve the world in need. Listening will be imperative.
Deep listening is an act of surrender. We risk being changed by what we hear. As we listen to the stories from our own and other parts of the world impacted by global warming and climate change we can ask ourselves what is at stake for the other person? Telling of our wildfires we know the impact of them on our island. The primary goal of listening is to deepen our own understanding. The hope is that in listening well we are changed by what we hear and new horizons will be opened up for each listener.
Our Diocese in Europe encourages each of our chaplaincies to become places where we strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. We have 5 Ts to remind us: Transform, Treasure, Tend, Teach and Tell. As we look into the sky or watch TV and social media we see the flames, the smoke and the devastation caused by the fires. We acknowledge the strength of those working to extinguish them and pray with gratitude for their work and their selfless dedication. Journeying together we pray that we will respond to our 21st century world, changed by science and technology and impacted by the crises of injustice, war and poverty.
In the life of All Saints we pray this week: “May Your Kingdom come. Your Will be done. May we take seriously our responsibility to care for creation and sustain our earth. We pray for safety for all working on our behalf to protect our island home. Amen”.
Congregational Worship Leader
This week we welcomed the Revd Philip Harbridge, the Senior Chaplain of Millfield School, accompanied by his wife and daughters, to our congregation. Father Philip will be our Locum Priest for the next 6 weeks.
As we hear reports of heat waves and wild fires in the Iberian Peninsula and Northern Europe, here in Tenerife, whilst in the East and South of the Island hot and humid conditions have been experienced, in the Orotava Valley we are thankful for our own “micro climate”. The Sea breeze generated by the Northeast trade winds, allied with the high ground around our volcano “El Tiede”, can create an adiabatic process which often, in the heat of the day, fills the valley with a layer of cloud. This shelters us from the worst of the midday sun. The local term for this uniform layer of cloud is “La panza de burro” (The Donkey’s Belly). Its interesting to note that similar effects can on occasion be found the Valleys of Wales where the local term “bol buwch” (Cow’s Belly) is used. One wonders if there is a link going back in time!
We must be thankful for these natural effects that make our life here more pleasant.
Whilst being thankful for the shade offered by these clouds we are reminded of the words from St Mathew 24 verse 30:
“Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory“.
Last week I found myself counting with a three-year-old who is learning to count in Spanish – he was enthusiastically counting the goals he had scored against me at table football! Subsequently I’ve been aware of friends counting their steps, a child excitedly counting out her piggy bank to see how much money she has for her holiday and an advert telling me that I don´t need to count calories or points to lose weight.
Counting is part of life and after our service on Sunday at All Saints I was aware of counting blessings too. There was a sense of “wow” as we stepped into the church to be met by a stunning array of colour from orchids and other flowers and plants which decorated every part of the church. What a blessing of generosity alongside gratitude for my sight and sense of smell.
Celebrating Sea Sunday we counted the blessings of service and protection by the many who serve around our shores and further afield on the sea.
After we had received communion Revd Richard offered each one the opportunity of anointing with oil. This was both powerful and profound. The words prayed over us were for each one specifically. The prayer I received reminded me that I matter to God. He values me.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the man who gave his daughter his old jeep as a present on her graduation. He told her that before she took possession of it she needed to take it to the used car garage to see how much she´d be offered if she sold it immediately. She returned and told him it was worth about one thousand pounds because it was pretty worn out. Next he told her to take it to the pawn shop and ask the same question. They offered her a hundred pounds. Finally he sent her to the Jeep Club where she was greeted enthusiastically with, “I will offer you a hundred thousand pounds because it´s an iconic jeep and sought by many collectors.” He told his daughter to remember the lesson that the right place values you the right way and that if you´re not valued you’re just in the wrong place. Those who know your value appreciate you.
Each of us counts. We matter – to God, to others and hopefully to ourselves. I read this week that stillness isn’t about focussing on nothingness but about creating a clearing and opening up an emotionally clutter free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question. Like our gifts and talents, meaning is unique to each of us. What counts to us varies but we always count to and can count on God. As the final line in Matthew´s Gospel reminds us: Jesus came to them and said…Know that I am with you always…and in another translation: Never forget that I am with you every day. Counting on God to be alongside us this week may we reflect on and count our blessings and enable others to know of their value and sense of worth, praying for our world desperately in need of the unity, peace and healing which we shared around the table of the Eucharist.
Congregational Worship Leader
In the past few days we have been able to celebrate 3 Baptisms at All Saints – a set of 1 month old Twins, and also, last Sunday, during our Holy Eucharist service, a 90 year old lady. Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God. This journey continues for the rest of our lives. It’s the first step in response to God’s love.
It was a joyful celebration on Sunday with the children of the Sunday school making a display of the elements of Baptism and also they presented a handmade gift to the newly-baptised lady. A truly wonderful celebration of God’s blessing that we all receive.
Next Sunday we say goodbye, (or should it be ‘hasta luego’ ) to Father Richard, who has been our locum priest for the past 6 weeks. He and his wife Jill have brought great joy to our Chaplaincy and we all wish them well as they return to the United Kingdom. Their stay with us here in Tenerife has brought an air of freshness and joy to our services, and we feel blessed that they have been sent to us at a time when the Chaplaincy was in gloom after the death of Father Ron.
With these events I am minded of the words of the Psalmist:-
“Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvellous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (Psalm 98:1-3).
I am fortunate to live overlooking the coast, on the Southwest of Tenerife, which means that at this time of year the sun sets directly in front of me into the sea. As Spring turns to Summer the sunsets become more spectacular. The colours of yellow, orange and pink light up the vista and the sun´s rays spread out across the sky. Each sunset is unique and my favourite place to watch the dwindling light and changing sky is from my hammock. I´ve noticed that cloudy skies earlier on can sometimes be the precursor to a stunning sunset.
As the sun sets here it begins to rise over our friends in the Western hemisphere…and as it sets there it returns to rise over us the following day. We wait in the dark for the light to break forth and there are days when the clouds hide it totally. Hammock reflection has made me wonder about the “clouds” that colour and cover my personal sky, that prevent the sunlight shining through?
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross writes: People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is light within.
There´s no perfect life, no perfect job, no perfect childhood, no perfect marriage and no perfect set of people who will always do what we expect them to do. What we do have is a perfect God who is able to lead us through this imperfect life with unfailing strength, incomparable wisdom and infinite love. Talking about what gets in the way can be a way of enabling us to live and love with our whole hearts.
Now I´m pretty sure that we all know what healthy eating constitutes and we have access to a wealth of information around the topic so why is it that some of us struggle to eat healthily? Perhaps it´s because we don´t talk about the things that get in the way of doing what we know is best for us, our families and our communities.
Naming and having honest conversations about our “clouds” can enable us to develop resilience, courage, compassion and connection. We live in a world where expectations can tell us that being imperfect means being inadequate. Secrecy, silence and judgement can prevent us from developing resilience. We are encouraged in scripture to love each other as we love ourselves. Some of us are not so good at loving ourselves, naming our “clouds” and talking about them, owning and telling our story. Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are. Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. It encourages us to exercise the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough in the eyes of the God who loves us unconditionally.
Belonging to a community of faith, as we do at All Saints, enables us to connect and share ourselves and our stories. As we look at the sun´s rising and setting we are reminded of the faithfulness of God who is above, beneath and beside us. We experience a Creator God who lit the world and breathed life into each one of us. We are enabled to know more of the Son who saved the world and stretches out His hand to each one of us and we experience the Spirit of God who encompasses each one of us in our world. This coming week may we see the sunset as an opportunity to reset knowing that the sunrise brings the promise of a new dawn. Our horizons may change but the sun, the Son does not.
Congregational Worship leader
This week sees the summer solstice which is the first day of astronomical summer and the longest day of the year for people in the Northern Hemisphere. In ancient times, solstices and equinoxes were important in helping people to maintain calendars and grow crops. The solstice itself has remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since Neolithic times and over the centuries has been marked by festivals and celebrations.
In Anglesey, (The Island from where my ancestors come) lie prehistoric sites such as at Bryn Celli Ddu. This open burial chamber dated to around 2000BC, is so perfectly aligned that for only 20 minutes each year, a beam of sunlight aligns exactly with the opening to the chamber.
With the coming of Christianity, people were encouraged to give up their old traditions, by their incorporation into new Christian practices. For example, the summer solstice became known as the feast of St. John, the Baptist.
Here in the North of Tenerife every year on the “octava” (eighth day) of Corpus Christi – i.e. the following Thursday after the date of the religious feast – the northern Tenerife town of La Orotava celebrates its Día de las Alfombras (Carpet Day), when, since 1846, carpets of sand and flowers have been made in the streets as a traditional part of the celebrations.
La Orotava families, many still with the same surnames since the 15th Century conquest of Tenerife, start making the flower carpets from the early hours of “carpet day.” The central sand carpet – created entirely using sand and soil from Teide National Park – created each year in the square in front of the town hall. (It made the Guinness World Record for Largest Sand Painting; the 859.42 square meter “alfombra” or carpet of sand created in June 2007.)
In the early evening the procession walks all over these ephemeral carpets and destroys them, so the “window of opportunity” to see them is very short. Don’t miss them, because as works of art, they are breath-taking.
As a child I remember being read the book, “Pollyanna” about a girl who, following her father´s death, is sent to live with her aunt who undertakes the responsibility out of a sense of duty rather than pleasure. Pollyanna affects everyone who meets her with her exuberance and positivity and she spreads joy and love wherever she goes. Nothing deters her excessive cheerfulness and optimism.
This week in the UK is National Loneliness Awareness week with the emphasis being on the Power of One. The campaign encourages each to explore the difference that one person can make to someone experiencing feelings of loneliness. During the pandemic we heard many reports of those who felt lonely due to the isolation imposed by the various governments around the world. In this post pandemic time many have made significant lifestyle changes in the light of their experiences during lockdown. Others however do not have the option, dare I say luxury, to make changes. The characteristics of Pollyanna are a challenge for many in our world. Yet as individuals the power of our one can make a difference to many living in loneliness.
If you are reading this that means you have the access to either a computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone. You have electricity and connection to the internet. You are more fortunate than over a billion people across the world who are unable to read.
Several times recently I´ve caught myself bemoaning a situation. My car wing mirror needs replacing…but I have a car. The water filter has broken…but I have access to clean water on tap. The power is off…but I have access to electricity and had been informed it would be switched off briefly. The price of my shopping has increased. Within a week I noticed the Pineapple juice jumped from 69c to 1.15 – yet I have a choice in our supermarkets and the ability to buy without needing to make a choice between food or bills. Starvation is the daily situation for millions. The lens through which I choose to see my world can be one of gratitude as I recognise the riches that I have in comparison with so many.
The Passion translation of St Paul´s letter to the Philippians 4:4 reads “Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let your joy overflow!” Paul continues in this letter to encourage his listeners to be saturated in prayer throughout the day and to tell God every detail of their life.
This week let us pray in gratitude for the riches that we enjoy and pray for the ability to reflect joy. Facebook reminded me recently that; “Today you could be standing next to someone who is trying their best not to fall apart. So whatever you do today do it with kindness in your heart.” In this way the power of one can become the power of many to influence and affect change within family and community.
Congregational Worship Leader
After four days of watching a weekend of pageant, pomp, celebration and thanks, the one word that sticks in my mind is DUTY. Some seventy years ago I was a young boy who joined a wolf cub pack, there we had to make a promise to do our duty to God and the Queen, to keep the laws of the wolf cub pack and to do a good turn to someone every day. I have tried to achieve this every day since then, despite having got a little bit too old to be a member of the cub pack or even the boy scouts!
Watching the trooping of the colour, I was conscious that all those on parade had also taken an oath to do their duty to The Queen and country. All serving members of the armed forces also respect and have a duty to honour the regimental colour which, after being blessed, was then presented to the regiment by Her Majesty.
At the Service of thanksgiving, in St Paul’s Cathedral, the Archbishop of Canterbury also was doing his duty, after being tested positive for COVID, by self isolating. The Archbishop of York doing his duty, presiding over the service and giving a very heart-warming address of thanks for Her Majesty’s seventy year reign, recognising that she has always done her duty, to God and the country, as promised in Her coronation vows,, and also pointing out that Christ had also done his duty, as required by God the Father, by dying for Man’s sins.
Here at All Saints, we joined in the celebrations by having a ‘Street Party’ the congregation also doing our duty celebrating Her Majesty’s long reign.
I feel that the whole platinum jubilee can best be summarised by Paddington Bear’s closing remark at the ‘tea party’
“Happy Jubilee Ma’am, and thank you – for everything”.
Reader – All Saints Puerto de la Cruz
I wonder how many different flags you´ve been aware of this week?
With our celebrations locally for Dia de Canarias (30th May) the food, culture, music and sports have for the most part taken place under and around the Canarian flag. This flag is formed of 3 identical vertical stripes of the following colours, starting on the pole, white, blue and yellow.
Many over the past months have placed Ukrainian flags in their windows as a symbol of solidarity with the Ukrainian community. The two bands of azure and golden yellow represent grain under a blue sky. How poignant that the exportation of grain to Russia is contributing to an impending global food crisis.
With the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth´s Platinum Jubilee the Union Jack and associated bunting is seen to be flying in many places up and down the UK and across the Commonwealth, and indeed in All Saints in preparation for our own celebration on Saturday.
A single piece of fabric can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. Depending on where they fly flags can represent freedom or control, danger or safety. Originally flags were used mainly in warfare and to some extent they have remained symbols of leadership – as a way of identifying friend or foe. Local flags help to foster a sense of identity and create a symbol which members of a community relate to. The Canarian colours of white, blue and yellow have been festooned around many parts of the island this weekend. Children and adults alike have proudly celebrated the day to mark the anniversary of the first session of the parliament of the Canary Islands held on 30th May 1983.
Flags are used to share the past, present and future vision of a community. Whether it be a simple Church Parade of uniformed organisations or the impressive Trooping of the Colour this ceremony reflects how the flag is held in high esteem as part of the history, the sacrifices made by the people and for the qualities for which the community and its people stand.
Words that come to mind when reflecting on the flag and its symbolism are service, duty, looking forward with faith and hope, solid, enduring, courage and strength…not because of the flag itself necessarily but because of the people who it represents and who serve under it.
There was a worship song some years ago that started: The Lord is mine and I am His. His banner over me is love. It contained several scriptural truths: He brought me to His banqueting table. He lifted me up into heavenly places. He is the vine and we are the branches. Jesus is the rock of my salvation. There´s one way to peace through the power of the cross. Each verse concluded with the words; His banner over me is love.
This coming week may we each know the hand of God´s love on our lives. May we reflect that same love within our families and communities. As a church family we pray with gratitude for all who serve their country and community – remembering all standing for truth and justice in places of war and remembering particularly the 70 years of service given by Queen Elizabeth. I conclude with her words as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England:
We are all visitors to this time. We are all visitors to this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe. Our purpose here is to learn. Our purpose here is to grow. Our purpose here is to love and then we return home.
Congregational Worship Leader
This week here in All Saints we celebrated a Service of Thanksgiving for Revd Ron. Amongst other things it was a time of remembering and sharing the memories.
Memory is the process of taking in information from the world around us, processing it, storing it and later recalling that information, sometimes many years later. Memories help shape the way we live and experience certain things that occur in our lives.
Remembering the past, living in the present and looking to the future are all important, however remembering the past can affect how we live in the present and the future. The good and the bad of our experiences will both determine the acts of our futures. Ultimately reflection can empower us to determine what´s important to us and one simple way to start reflecting is through memory keeping.
Facebook reminded me of a memory this morning from 7 years ago. Sifting through photos and videos on my phone, calendars and journals is a way to piece together not just a narrative – not just the story of what happened but, like historians we can decipher which significant moments mattered in our lives.
The concept of remembering recurs prominently in the bible, especially in the Old Testament. God remembers his covenant with his people whereupon God´s people are encouraged to remember Him. There are many times stones are placed as a marker or piled together to stand out in a place. Climbing various Welsh mountains in my youth there were frequent cairns contributed to by those who had completed the task and left the stone as a lasting memory.
The most enduring memorial in the bible is one that can´t endure: the loaf and the cup at the Last Supper – and Jesus´ words, “Do this in remembrance of me.” What lasts is the meaning. The body and blood are seen and shown and shared in the memorial of that meal in the upper room. It vanishes through being consumed but it endures in not just the memory but the behaviour, the actions of those who by eating and drinking together come to see how they now form themselves into one body.
This week perhaps we can take time to name and contemplate what has shaped us in the past. We will each have formative moments that have shaped our life. Memories are reflections of the heart we happen to gaze on once in a while. The choices we make reflect the memories we create. As Christians we try to become more like Christ. As we pursue this transformation let us consider the invitation God gives to each one of us to be led and guided to a deeper awareness of His love and care for each of us. Calling on God to remember his people or an individual is the essence of prayer. The repentant thief alongside Jesus on the cross called out: Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom. We pray for all who have asked us to remember them in prayer this week.
Congregational Worship Leader
Yesterday I found a map and a torch in my car door and I realised that both reminded me of my journeying over the past few weeks. My map gets much less use now thanks to the Sat Nav but it is handy to show visitors where we are in relation to other parts of the island and to view the contours and communities in Tenerife. Both the Sat Nav and the Map have their place and I realise I am helped by visual descriptions – turn left at the red house on the corner or right at the petrol station beyond the bridge. Solely sticking to the signposts, road numbers and street names doesn’t give me the confidence that I will reach my destination. Trusting my Sat Nav totally means I rely on my phone battery not to let me down. The more I use it the less reliable it is. There´s a place for each at different times and in different places.
These last few weeks journeying has been from place to place in England but as well as the physical journey there has been a spiritual and healing journey at a retreat centre. My map has been my bible and the Sat Nav has been the opportunity to join with other Christians and with direction from team members. The journey has been about spending time with God who is both my destination and my origin. The familiar question asked by children as they are travelling, “Are we there yet?” was one I asked several times. Over time I realised that peace was not the absence of something but the presence of someone.
The torch I found in my car reminded me of the analogy I used when looking back and describing my time at Crowhurst. When a torch grows dim or stops working you don´t throw it away. You change or recharge the batteries. Some torches need AA: Attentive listening and Affection. Some need AAA: Attentive listening, Affection and Acceptance. Some use C: Courage and others require D: Direction. If after all these have been tried and there´s still a lack of light then there are those who simply sit alongside and share their light and The Light – Jesus, until the terminals are ready for the right batteries to be inserted and the torch can shine and shed its light once again, to illuminate other dark spaces and to light the way ahead. As Spurgeon said: To trust God in the light is nothing but to trust Him in the dark, that is faith.
We each have our own faith journey to take and we can’t walk anyone else’s. This week let’s pray that we will find the tools required for the journey that we are taking and know more of God who is with us, alongside and within us as we do so.
Congregational Worship Leader
Over the past months while out and about and passing children in their pushchairs or out for a meal at a restaurant something has struck me forcibly. Many children were sitting with a phone or tablet in their hand, and in fact one buggy had a clip with the phone mounted on it in front of the toddler. The children weren’t engaging with what or who was around them. Their heads were down and they were engrossed in whatever was on the screen in front of them. The thing that seemed sad was that in most cases the adult(s) with the child(ren) were also on their phones or speaking into the air, using airpods or similar. In a restaurant one family group of 2 children and 2 adults all sat looking at their screens and there wasn’t a word spoken between them from ordering their meal until it arrived – and then there were strong words exchanged between child and adult about putting the device on pause to eat the food while it was hot.
I contrast this with a family sitting across from me on a train recently. The children were excited about going to visit their grandparents. There was conversation between them and Mum had them looking for various objects out of the window to see who could gain the most points…can you look for…and they were given several things to look out for between this and the next station: a field with animals in? Can you count them? Are there more than 10? The list of things to find on their train hunt was interesting and kept them engaged and chatting together. Then out came a drink and a bag of fruit pieces with paper plates and the challenge to make something recognisable. There was a face, and a lighthouse and a pattern! The children were then given paper to write or draw something and then fold it over and pass it on – after it had done the rounds several times Mum then told them a story following those prompts. I´m sure I wasn´t the only one enjoying the adventures of the dog who had long floppy ears! When the time came to get off the train the children were eagerly looking out for Grandad who would be on the platform to help with the luggage and they rushed into his arms for a hug. Not one phone or screen between them for the duration of the journey and time for conversation, fun and listening well.
The contrast between this poverty of attention and the gift of being fully present was marked. I was reminded of a phrase I heard once: We are not machines that need to be fixed. We are humans who need connection.
Sometimes we accept this deficit of attention as part of life but we can feel a little less validated, a little less valued and a little less loved. Time and complete attention are precious gifts to give. One vicar in a parish many years ago had the gift of making you feel as if you were the only person he had to listen to and he was totally focussed on what you were saying when you were with him – no checking watch or phone for messages or rushing to fit you in to a full schedule. It might have been full but you were never made to feel anything other than you were the person to whom his complete attention was being given for the time you were with him.
Self-giving listening creates a safe place for vulnerability and trust. It allows pain and confusion to be articulated. This characteristic is one which God shares with each one of us. He is wholly present, utterly available and listening attentively. We have a God who suffers with – who meets us in our disappointments and joins us in our mourning for his world and people. In the Book of Job chapter 12 verse 10 we read: “In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind”. As we are conscious of our world and all its pain let us pray this week that we can allow the true nature of God to shape our pain and not let pain shape our image of God.
Exodus 3:7-9 tells us that God sees our misery, hears our cries, knows our sufferings, comes down to deliver and brings us into a new place. We know He suffered for us at Calvary and because of this he suffers with us today in our darkest hours. Desmond Tutu said: Hope is being able to see there is light despite the darkness.
We pray this week for our brothers and sisters in all parts of the world at war, for light in their darkness and hope in their uncertainty and we give thanks for all who offer aid and are present with and alongside them in the struggle.
Congregational Worship Leader
This past week I found myself noticing a scar which I have on my left hand and being reminded of how I received it – and the fact that because of my obstinate nature I carry it with me today. I´m not left with any pain or wound just the visible reminder of an experience of many years ago. We each carry scars, some more visible than others. But the thing about physical scars is that, while at one time they were wounds, they are now healed. They point us to a memory or an event but they are a healing of that same event.
On Sunday our Gospel reading was the story of the disciples together in a locked room following Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus came among them and offered them the gift of peace – “Peace be with you”. Thomas however wasn’t with them and despite their proclamations he announced that he wouldn’t believe Jesus was alive unless or until he could have proof – and that proof was to see the wounds that Jesus bore. A week later they were together again and Jesus appeared to them. He said to Thomas, “Look at the nail marks in my hands. Touch the sword wound in my side. Stop doubting and believe”. Thomas didn´t need to look or to touch. His doubts had gone. On hearing Thomas´ declaration of Jesus as his Lord and God Jesus responded: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” …that´s us! In all our wounds and scars of life Jesus offers us an eternal hope.
This midweek letter will be uploaded on Tuesday, the day before Revd Ron’s funeral when we will be coming together to share fond memories of Ron and give thanks to God for his life, but we don’t just have our memories of Ron we also have hope – the Christian Hope that death is not the final word – that although there is parting, there is also re-uniting; although there is death – there is also resurrection. At the Bible study which followed the midweek service the morning after hearing the news of Ron´s death I found myself staring at the chair where he usually sat and reflecting that Ron had left a large Ron shaped hole. It felt quite wound like.
Despite that, we know that Ron had a firm faith in the resurrection to eternal life. Ron preached on this very gospel to the Tenerife Virtual Church 2 years ago. He told us that the Early Church rather than kneeling were required to stand and look up, because Easter was such a glorious time. He likened it to the sense of Heaven and said, “When we get there as you go to kneel as you would naturally do before the throne of Christ, He will be lifting you up under the arms and looking you in the eye and saying Welcome brother / sister”.
He and those we know and love who have gone before us have experienced a total healing of all wounds and scars. As an Easter people we experience new life and hope and we pray today for Ron´s family and friends that, over time, rather than wounds scars will form and memories will be a source of comfort.
Congregational Worship Leader
What are your memories of Easter, I wonder? Hiding Easter Eggs for the children to find after church on Easter Sunday I was reminded that as a child in those days many patients brought their GP, my Dad, an Easter present – and knowing that he had 4 children we were inundated with chocolate eggs. They were lined up and as the oldest I got to choose first so my sister as the youngest inevitably got the smallest eggs. We experienced the same choosing but our memories are different and unique to each.
With Siri on my phone it was very easy to establish that Easter Sunday in 1980 was on 6th April. So it is likely that the chocolate had been eaten and the Easter holiday had been and gone by 25th April. Life was back to the normality of the ordinary. Except for many people their world would never be normal or ordinary again. Dan Air Boeing 727-46 G-BDAN, rather than landing at Tenerife North Airport, crashed into the high ground and forest in La Esperanza. This resulted in the death of all 146 on board, 8 crew members and 138 passengers. In All Saints we have a memorial rose garden and this coming Sunday 24th April after our 11:00 service we will be remembering all those who lost their lives and those who live with the impact of that memory.
Each family and friend will have their own jigsaw pieces of that disaster and its memory. The same could be said for the disciples and the women on Easter Sunday. They had pieces of a story and an experience – finding the tomb empty, running to tell the others, not believing the news, walking along the Emmaus Road and not initially recognising Jesus. Each had their own experience of the risen Jesus and the circumstances surrounding his resurrection and their part within it. They had been through the horror of Good Friday and the grief, loss and disappointments of Holy Saturday. Their Messiah had died and their hope had died too. It took time to experience the resurrection of Easter and that the cry of Jesus on the cross, “It is Finished” didn´t mean the end as they understood it. Jesus had defeated death. On the cross he spoke to the repentant thief alongside Him, “This day you will be with me in paradise”. Paradise – what´s your image? For me it certainly isn´t that death has the last word. The tomb of the Risen Jesus on Easter Sunday morning was filled with hope and freedom.
As we remember and pray for those impacted by the disaster and all who are grieving across our world today we pray the prayer from the Celtic Prayer Book:
Into my grieving weave the strength of the Father.
Into my grieving weave the compassion of the Son.
Into my grieving weave the comfort of the Spirit.
Into my grieving I receive the presence of the three in one.
Into my anger I weave the patience of the Father.
Into my numbness I weave the healing of the Son.
Into my confusion I weave the wisdom of the Spirit
And we shall grieve together, one in community with the three in one. Amen
Congregational Worship Leader
Earlier this week I heard of a friend who has decided to take up running. To ensure this isn´t a whim and that she doesn´t give up she has signed on to take part in a half marathon in a couple of months’ time.
As I was reflecting on our conversation I was conscious that no amount of inspiring books or motivational YouTube videos will make someone a runner. You just begin to run, just the tiniest distance initially and gradually building up. The only way for a non-runner to become a runner is to run. It clearly takes time to prepare for and time to recover from the end goal of the half marathon but each day is part of the preparations.
Our Christian journey through Lent has been an opportunity to walk more closely with Jesus. Perhaps we have been on a journey of taking on something new, learning and growing with Jesus, sharing hopes and dreams, setbacks and mistakes. This week we reach Holy Week. It´s often known as Passiontide. The Greek root for the English word Passion, which we often associate with romantic or sexual love, derives from Pashko which means “To Suffer”. Passion is not just about what/who you love but it is what/who you are willing to endure and suffer for. The Greek term Persona is translated Stage Mask. Suffering forces us to choose whether we want to lose the “persona”, unmask ourselves and embrace the true person. Putting the two together if we truly want to find ourselves in the midst of our losses we must be prepared to risk the uncertainty of vulnerability. In the Holy Week journey of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Jesus walks this path of total selfless giving and vulnerability. We know the end of the story. There is Resurrection.
Resurrection reminds us that light shines in the darkness, not outside it or into it from outside but within it. In the darkness of war zones, whether literally or our personal “war zone” of isolation, fear or loss, we who have seen suffering, pain and love will also be able to share in His resurrection.
How do we tell counterfeit money from real? By learning what real money looks like! Similarly with artists, we study their work, their ways and their style. This helps us recognise the counterfeit and the fake. So this week may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and know the truth of his suffering and death, his love for each one of us and the freedom we can enjoy in his resurrection life.
Congregational Worship Leader
On Tuesday March 22nd we in All Saints learnt of the unexpected and untimely death of Revd Ron, known simply to many as Ron. There have been many and varied emotions expressed since then. Conversations have included shock; sadness; no time to say goodbye; it doesn’t seem real; we didn´t know how ill he was; what happens now; it hits in waves. I’m sure these are only the tip of an iceberg.
Earlier I was watching 2 children playing with a ball in the swimming pool. After throwing and catching they started to push it down and then let it burst through the surface of the water. It went where it did. The further down they pushed it, the higher, more forcefully and more randomly it emerged. The way the ball behaved reminded me of grief. It pops out in unexpected places and the more we push it down the more likely it is to emerge randomly.
I am holding onto Psalm 31:7, “For you have seen my troubles and you care about the anguish of my soul”. Loss is woven into the fabric of life. The valley of the shadow of death and the way of suffering, grief and loss is a terrain which Ron walked and which we are now travelling. We read in scripture that Jesus promised life to the full. I´ve thought of that as a life of joy and miracles but this week I´ve been reminded that the life of Christ was marked by suffering as well as joy. The story of Holy Week which we remember from this coming Palm Sunday is one of disappointment, struggle and pain. Love and loss, presence and absence, suffering and resurrection aren´t sets of opposites. Rather they ebb and flow together in our life. In describing the loss of a friend C. S. Lewis writes: “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything”. We will each have our own memories of Ron and a grief journey to walk, both individually and as a church family. We will move through it at different paces. At our car boot sale on Saturday one of our young members spoke to me: “Do you know that Ron has died?” “Yes I do and I am very sad” was my reply. He continued; “But I love Ron. He can´t die. He was my friend”.
May the words of Julian of Norwich encourage us in the coming weeks: “From Him we come. In Him we are enfolded. To Him we return”.
There will be an opportunity for us to remember and celebrate Revd Ron and his contribution to life in All Saints in the coming weeks. Meanwhile we pray for his family and each other.
Congregational Worship Leader
This past few weeks I´ve found myself in various “waiting” situations – waiting for flights, trains, news and results. Many of these “waitings” have meant “watching” too – a watching with, a watching for or just simply being and observing the world around me.
Sometimes it´s easy to wait and watch. At other times the watching and waiting has stirred many emotions. Sometimes words have got in the way and what was important was just the being there, waiting in the stillness, alongside. At other times, as when I was sitting at a train station, I was aware of the birdsong, the people around me and the sound and smell of freshly mown grass (I was in England and not Tenerife)! I was both a part of and apart from life going on around me.
In Matthew´s Gospel in the Garden of Gethsemane while praying to His Father Jesus asked his friends to stay, to keep watch and to pray. They simply had to wait and watch, yet they fell asleep. Each time he returned and asked them to watch and pray. Each time they fell asleep and He was left to carry His present anguish alone.
We have seen many pictures of the Ukrainian people waiting in underground shelters, waiting for an end to the horrors of war and watching the devastation occurring around them. The world watches from a distance but with the instancy of the media we are part of the horror. Many have been moved to action and across the world many have committed to pray, that the present won´t be the ultimate reality, that there will be an end to the horror of war, with healing and peace overcoming the pain and darkness experienced by so many.
In the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus prayed to His Father, after asking his friends to wait, watch and pray, despite the darkness, pain and suffering it wasn´t the ultimate end.
Our feelings and circumstances can appear despairing and yet within them Jesus comes alongside us. He has known the pain of suffering and despair. He told his disciples: Wait to receive the Holy Spirit. He will give strength and power.
Have you ever climbed up a tower? The landscape is seen from a different perspective than from the ground view. It enables us to see further and to see beyond the immediate. Today we pray for strength and power for all those who are in the darkness of waiting and watching, for a different viewpoint and a sense of light in their darkness.
Congregational Worship Leader
This past year we seem to have become very used to having covid rules and regulations and their being changed depending on the situation locally. I’ve found it interesting how they have varied from country to country. My sister in Sweden has had very little disruption by any rules. Here in Tenerife the rules have depended on our “level”.
Are you naturally a stickler for following rules or do you tend to sail as close to the edge as you can get away with? Do rules give security or are they a frustration? One year for Lent I decided I would stick to the speed limit (shameful, yes I know) rather than regularly exceeding it.
Our upbringing can affect how we view rules too. “Do to others as you would like them to do to you” was a rule that was emphasised when I was at primary school. It encompassed love, peace, compassion, kindness, gentleness and inclusivity – encouraging us to include everyone in our games.
It´s interesting how some rules stick. We still today must keep our liquids to under 100ml when flying with hand luggage.
Perhaps you have your own rules for life. The Diocese in Europe encourages us each to have a Rule of Life. It includes 4 aspects.
The first is Knowing God: To commit ourselves to regular participation in an act of worship.
The second is Growing in Christ: To commit ourselves to regular prayer and intentional study of our faith and where possible to seek guidance from another to resource us as we seek to journey with Christ.
The third is Building Community: To offer time, treasure and talents to work constructively with our fellow Christians in building community within the church and in the places where we live.
The fourth is Living beyond ourselves: To seek purposefully to find a specific way or ways to relate our faith to the wider world in which we have been placed by God our Creator.
As Lent is a time when we can each focus on our journey of knowing Jesus and growing closer to Him I hope that using a Rule of Life could be one way to do this.
Congregational Worship Leader
For the past 2 days Tenerife has been hit by Storm Celia. We’ve seen videos of trees being uprooted, patios covered in palm leaves and husks which have been torn down by the wind, waves crashing high over harbour walls, lashing rain making tiles lethal to walk on and sand being whirled along beaches stinging anything in its path.
It’s one thing to sit inside and watch it happening from the warmth and safety behind the patio doors – though I have to admit to wondering whether the doors would be blown in as the sunbed was thrown from one side of the terrace to the other! It´s quite another to be outside in the midst of it. I live overlooking the harbour and from it there are frequent boat trips to see the whales and dolphins. There were no sailings over the past few days as the waves crashed onto the rocks and the turquoise swirling foam poured over the walls.
I didn´t venture very far during the height of it but last night I sat on the outdoor settee under the shelter of the roof, watching the palms bend with the wind and observing the changing colours of the sky. In one direction it was jet black and you could see the rain falling further out over the sea and La Gomera. In the other direction there were whisps of white cloud and pockets of blue sky. Suddenly the black clouds parted and a ball of brilliant sunlight shone through so brightly. I had to squint as it shone directly onto me. Despite what I could see the sun was still there, hidden, and it would be setting as it always did, whether it was visible or not.
Storms are part of life. They were certainly part of Jesus´ disciples´ life. On the lake as the disciples were tossed about in a boat fearing for their safety, Jesus slept. When I saw the water yesterday I asked myself how anyone would be able to sleep through a boat being tossed up and down in the storm. As a child I remember having a bible storybook and seeing a picture of a wooden craft with slender mast, sails and Jesus asleep in the stern on a pillow as the boat rode the crest of the swirling lake water. The disciples looked petrified as they clung onto the sides.
Haven´t we all been there, facing whichever storm we find ourselves in the midst of? Our media is full of the most unspeakable and unthinkable storms which the people of Ukraine are enduring. That storm is known to all and thankfully many are coming to their aid and standing shoulder to shoulder in support. However perhaps you are facing your own storm – known to a few or just yourself.
Let´s return to that boat on the lake in Galilee. Jesus was woken by the disciples. He spoke to the storm: Peace. Be Still. He told his fellow sailors: Do not be afraid.
He tells us the same.
In this coming week let us cling to the anchor in our storms, Jesus. In the final verse of Matthew´s Gospel we read: Know that I am with you always…Jesus is our companion in the storms as well as in the calm. Let us pray for all who are storm tossed and for those who are clinging to their boat in the hope that Jesus will speak words of peace to them, that they will know his presence alongside them and see the sunlight behind the darkness of their clouds.
Congregational Worship Leader