Pilgrimpace's Blog

advent calendar 21
December 21, 2016, 6:56 pm
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One of the highlights of the season this morning with the Christmas Service at the Learning Disabilities Chaplaincy at Monyhull.  It is very good to have a long established link between Monyhull and St Bede’s.  When St Bede’s was being rebuilt 25 years ago, the two congregations worshipped together at St Francis.  Things at Monyhull change.  Not just physically with the new housing development, but Care in the Community and pressures on the NHS meaning a dispersal of residents, and sometimes the importance of the spiritual care and community of the Church being overlooked and pressured.

I and St Bede’s receive so much from this relationship.  If you are jaded or exhausted by Christmas, this is a place of deep renewal and love.


advent calendar 8
December 15, 2016, 8:11 pm
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If you can listen to Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra this week, there are some gems:

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey

Richard Holmes’ The Long Pursuit (which reminded me of the fantastic chapter in Footsteps where he follows RLS and Modestine)

and Babette’s Feast.

Apart from The Box of Delights, what more could you want in the third week of Advent?

advent calendar 7
December 11, 2016, 2:47 pm
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I leafed through RS Thomas’ Collected Poems early this morning looking for Kneeling which fitted well into an Advent Sermon on waiting (along with AJ Levine’s insights on the Parable of the Widow and the Judge, where the widow uses a boxing term in her constant bothering of the Judge).

In the Thomas book, I read Welcome to Wales, which I haven’t seen for a long time.  I can’t find the text online, but you can hear it being read on youtube.

Read or hear it if you can.  It may me chuckle and then think deeply as I remembered the occasional hardness of the weather, of landscapes that wrecked my knee, of beauty, of wonderful and deep human hospitality.


Advent Calendar 6
December 10, 2016, 11:48 am
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“In a time of drastic change one can be too preoccupied with what is ending or too obsessed with what seems to be beginning. In either case one loses touch with the present and with its obscure but dynamic possibilities. What really matters is openness, readiness, attention, courage to face risk. You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope. In such an event, courage is the authentic form taken by love.”


spiritual journey, political journey, physical journey, temporal journey

no separation

advent calendar – 1

I owe you another two or three parts of the article on walking The Cistercian Way.  I promise to post these over the next week or two.

I am also aware that we are now a week into Advent.  Finishing the Sabbatical and starting work again has meant life has been a bit full. But let’s begin a journey through Advent together – some posts that might help us to navigate through life, perhaps some arrows on the way.  Things that might cast some indirect light upon the big things that matter.  Some fun as well.  Are you up for it?


Here’s our Advent Calendar at home.  The pieces are gradually added until, at the end of Christmas Eve, the picture is complete and things are clear.

Are you managing to give anything up for Advent, making space, helping others, reading or reflecting in particular ways.

I’ve picked up Henri Nouwen’s Genesee Diary – this account of a seven month sabbatical with the Cistercians in Upstate New York seems the right thing for me as I try not to lose myself and what I have gained these past months in the busyness of Advent and Christmas:

In the dark I found the chapel and prayed.  How much reason to say thanks, how much reason to pray that God will turn my heart to him and set me free by his love.

I keep all of you who read this blog, known to me and unknown, in my prayers.  If you pray, could you remember me in the time ahead – there is a lot of hard but creative ministry ahead as the task ahead with estate churches in my parish, my diocese and more widely unfolds.

advent journey – in tents
December 23, 2015, 11:20 am
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Those who sew at St Bede’s have made a Prayer Tent.  It will be around for people to use as they want. It’s located in the Children’s Corner.


We have found the tent, with it’s Christmas designs, very suggestive

travelling light, being ready to move, pilgrim people

remembering that John 1:14 can be translated as “The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us”

we reflected on Pilgrim God

on promise and miraculous births

(Sarah laughed in the tent when the stranger visited them at the Oaks of Mamre)

we remembered the joy and fun of camping

and remembered those who are in tents now through no choice, especially those in refugee camps




advent journey – oriens

My friend Carrie has reminded me that I asked her to write a reflection on the Antiphon O Oriens which is recited at Evening Prayer today.  It’s been weighing on her for ten or fifteen years, but today she has written and I think it is worth sharing.  I’m also really glad to have found the excuse for a good conversation about poetry with my friend Sammy this afternoon – a real antidote to nearly-Christmas tiredness.


I should be doing useful things,
Like putting up the tree.
Or ironing linens, polishing pews,
Braving the bloody battle lines
So we can actually eat on the 25th.

Instead, I am reading old Christmas card greetings
From someone I’ve never met;
Wandering, haphazard, tear-stained,
Into starlight and sheepdogs and poetry.

This is no time for verse –
At least not for prevenient Parsons like me,
Who have Strepsils to suck,
And no schedule for sentimentality

(or the Gospel).

And yet, just occasionally, the morning star rises,
Unexpectantly, improbably, through everyday things,
To make us stop and feel.

It happened today, that brightness dawning
Through the pages of a little book
By a middle-aged dropout called U.

And the Kingdom was born anew.