Pilgrimpace's Blog

advent journey – rest
December 23, 2017, 7:05 pm
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There is a very meditation by John O’Donohue For One Who is Exhausted a Blessing on the On Being Blog here.

Worth reading and listening to in these over-full days.

May God bless you this Christmas

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.


advent journey – “success”
December 22, 2017, 4:57 pm
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Christmas (and in terms of season I am solidly in both Christmas and Advent for these days) is a beautiful and strange time for clergy.  For myself there are the wonderful, huge number of services, assemblies, opportunities to share with people something of God.  But there is also the challenge of having time and energy for my family.  And, as we all know, there is a shadow side to the season.

We can find this a bit in social media, which (if you follow the same people as me) can be full of clergy who are justly proud of the numbers attending their services.  Now, I am fully in favour of having as many people in Church as possible (part of my ministry is a missioner), but I am also aware that many of us in urban housing estates and other places will be ministering as hard and imaginatively and faithfully as possible, but may have very few visitors and regular congregation in Church this weekend.  This can be crushing, especially when you are exhausted.

So, maybe we might think before we tweet or facebook our numbers.  And, to be honest, it might be best to stay off the computer for a bit.  Spend time with family and friends, watch a film, read a book.  Much more healthy.

My prayers for you all over the next days.

(and Sarah Schofield says similar things much better here).

advent journey – kindness
December 21, 2017, 3:34 pm
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“The past year has seen so many conflicts and disasters causing so much suffering and we can be left with a sense of paralysis and helplessness.  But through prayer and small acts of love in our own lives we can, at least, bring light and peace to the places where we live, valuing each and every person.  One of the mediaeval mystics, John Tauler, used to repeat often: ‘Be kind, be kind, and you will be saints.’  Our simple acts of kindness can help to neutralise the hatred in our world and make Christ present to others.”

– The Sisters, Wood Hall Carmel

advent journey – preparing
December 20, 2017, 10:09 am
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Gurmil roots in soak

advent journey
December 18, 2017, 4:38 pm
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clues to the way:


(and a reward if you find the Way?)

advent journey – slipping forwards

I spent Thursday in London for a meeting of the Estates Evangelism Task Group.  It is wonderful to see the progress that the Group is making and the enthusiasm for Estate Churches that is welling up in the wider Church.  There was the good news of the new Church Commissioners Strategic Development Funding grants to dioceses, several of which are concentrating on estates or other deprived areas.  You can read about the Blackburn grant here.  I am really looking forward to deepening the Birmingham partnership with this and learning from it.

In the meeting we reflected on the excellent Launde Abbey Conference a couple of months ago.  Bishop Philip will be in touch with the participants about taking the actions forward very soon.

I walked from home to the local railway station gingerly, slipping and sliding on the sheet ice, trying not to fall.  More importantly than my meeting, others were travelling to or across London to St Paul’s for the Grenfell Tower Memorial Service.


photo from Wikimedia Commons

You can read Bishop Tomlin’s moving Reflection at the Service here and listen to Isabelle Hamley’s Thought for the Day on it here.

There is so much on my heart as I meditate and pray on all this.  It is good to keep silent and still.  But one thing that keeps surfacing in my heart is that, as I reflect on the past year, I am very proud of the positive steps that the Church is taking with estate churches and ministry, but this is overshadowed by the stark fact that life is harder for so many of the people who live on them.  There is much work to do.  The shadow of the Tower hangs over us in judgement.

advent journey – catching
December 15, 2017, 4:20 pm
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Sorry for not posting as much in the last couple of weeks as I had hoped.  Things have been full.  20171208_101136-1223195239.jpg

It has been a week of snow and ice here.  Some things being cancelled.  Others taking much longer.  A hunkering down and keeping warm.  Lighting a candle, praying, holding people in the Light.  Doing our best to make sure those who can’t get out have what they need.  The before-time that we get in Advent with Carol Services and Christmas meals.  The going between icy cold and indoor heat.

You are in my prayers, and more posts as we walk through this season.

advent journey – 3
December 10, 2017, 5:12 pm
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A winter diversion


Heavy snow overnight.  An early morning walk to the next parish to cover for an ill colleague.  The snow topping my boots.  Passing three stranded buses on the hill.  The joy in people’s faces as children took the sledges out.

Eucharist with a small, intrepid congregation, then back to St Bede’s for our own service.  Again, a remnant, but glad people who are infirm didn’t risk it.  There is something beautiful in these circumstances about worship and prayer being for and on behalf of those unable to attend.

(and was anyone else unable to avoid the temptation to sing In the Bleak Midwinter, See Amid the Winter’s Snow and Good King Wenceslas this morning?)

In the sermon, I read Gillian Clarke’s Ode to Winter (you can read it here) which sets the possibility of this time of year of cold and little light.

And this evening, a friend has reminded me of Camus’ quote:

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer”.

This makes me happy.

– although, please remember to check on elderly neighbours, and to act if you see anyone sleeping rough

advent journey – 2


Advent began for me a week ago with the Urban Congress in Birmingham.  80 people coming together for the day from our inner city and outer estate parishes to reflect together on Staying in the City: Stories of Hope and Holding On.

The pictures of the day are here

Reflections on how this day helped map the Advent Journey to follow.

advent journey
December 4, 2017, 9:00 pm
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Advent.  God coming to us.  We, with the help of grace, travelling to God.

If we are on a pilgrimage to God, be sure that God is on a pilgrimage to us.

In among the busyness of this time of year, let’s journey together with a few Stations over the next three weeks.  Prayers for you all.