The random, thoughts, views and opinions of a young Methodist student minister, musician and University student.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

'A riot is the language of the unheard' -Martin Luther King Jr.

Quotes don't usually make me think for this long, but this short quote by Dr King, has me thinking and questioning alot of things.

In only three days, we've witnessed the mass destruction of our city by a group of very confused, angry and hurting people. I say people to express the fact, and break the media notion that those who are rioting are "youths" and "thugs". The oldest person arrested by police who was caught looting was 45.

'A riot is the language of the unheard'. What is it that we haven't heard? What is it that we are failing to hear? These are the question's we ought to be asking before we call for the blood of these people to be spilled. Who and what have we become as a people when we think "an eye for an eye" is the way to live? [and here I'm speaking to both sides].

I'm not condoning the violence - and I want to be extremely clear on that, but what I am saying is, it's not as simple as many of the middle-class men who run this country are making out. Many of the people we see looting and rioting come from very poor backgrounds, live in extremely run-down places, they come from broken homes, have been abused, mis-treated, ignored and branded by society as "thugs", "loosers", "a waste of space". They've been told they have no futures, verbally and by the actions of this coalition government - how would you react?

So we Tweet, blog, and create Facebook statuses about all the wrong things these people are doing - but how much time and energy did we dedicate to them or their [broken] families beforehand? The attitude of: "those losers will sort themselves out" is one that has led us right to where we are.

What has happened in London should be a stark reminder to us, that at the core of every human being there is the need and desire to love - and to be loved. It's quite simple "do as to others as you'd have them do to you". For far too long the rich have lived at the expense of the poor.

Don't look down on the "youths" on your television screens - pity them and have some compassion, you have NO idea what road they have walked, NO idea what they have seen or experienced, NO idea why they are the way they are.

This will never stop until the government and those involved with the riots enter into dialogue. Until then.......this violence will continue.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Blogging break.......

Friends, I've recently begun a process of "candidating" which is basically offering myself to the Church for ordination as a Presbyter within Methodism.
It's a hectic process and it has literally just cut it short -
I wont be blogging during this time, the process ends on the 6th April when I will hear whether the Church has accepted me or not as a student presbyter and I promise to blog on that day whatever the outcome!

Dominus Vobiscum and all that ;)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Powerful presence - authoritative preaching......really?

Well, I had my first assessed service - not my first ever assessed service but my first in terms of the assessment team coming from my new "base" in Cambridge rather than my usual colleagues in London. The service was a rather difficult one as it was taking place on remembrance Sunday and I'm a hardcore pacifist who was determined to preach a totally pacifist sermon!

Taking my pacifist views into the pulpit was not necessarily the wisest thing to do - but what do we do as preachers when the Holy Spirit urges us to preach on something difficult? After all the word of God is 'sharper than any two-edged sword'! Faced with this challenge I decided that I wouldn't tone down a sermon which I myself have to admit was bloody hard to write, let alone preach. In challenging the congregation, I myself was faced with a challenge, not only did I find myself having to go over my thoughts on war, but, I also found myself struggling to see how pacifism worked out in some very difficult situations. I soon realised that if we all waited till we had worked out everything that was floating around the topics we were preaching on - then we would never preach!

Doubts, fears, confusion, challenge aside - the sermon was preached, and to my surprise, it was well received!

After the service more than half the congregation said how helpful it was to be made to think for a change and how much they appreciated the challenging sermon. I still of course, had no idea what my assessors thought of it all and I had a three day wait before I was given the verdict.

Knowing how much of a risk I took by preaching such a hard to hear message - I was expecting the worst but every member of the assessment team agreed that I preached in an informed and challenging way and that it was great to have such a thoughtful response to a very hard topic.

I was then taken aback, when the focus changed from the sermon itself to the supposed authority and presence which I am said to carry....... I'm not aware of this myself but it did make me think.

For me, preaching has always been about making sure I preach about the 'hard to hear' things. After all, Is there really any point in us preaching if all we are going to do is patronise people by telling them what they already know - or - is it about dealing with some of the hard, tough, questions which the Gospel often faces us with?

I think it's the latter rather than the former and I hope we all keep challenging those we are preaching to, I hope we all keep challenging ourselves! And if you happen to be a person who spends more time in the pew than the pulpit then you ought to tell your preachers when they're not doing what they should be because you only get the preaching you deserve!

Sunday, 14 November 2010



I thought it's about time I updated this just a bit........I hope you like the name change and the new layout! In case you're wondering what a Hesychast is.....look it up :)

Anywho, I've arrived! I'm in Cambridge now, studying Theology at a small theological college for student ordinands (trainee vicars). Cambridge is a lovely city, very small (compared to London) and as a university city usually is, it's full of students.

I've been here nearly two months now and you know that "WOW" factor you always get at the beginning of a new venture...yup that fuzzy positive feeling - it hasn't (as usual) lasted very long!

Before the start of my first term here, I decided to spend a serious amount of time in a monastery of monks, where I lived the Benedictine life of prayer, work and study and spent some time reflecting on the common threads of spirituality in the lives of John Wesley and Benedict of Nursia. Living now, in a very different community, where speech is free, prayer not necessarily forced and manual labour not a routine there a many contrasts to be made. One thing I have come to value is the importance of silence in any community which is to grow and develop. Benedict in chapter 6 of his rule speaks of 'cherishing silence in the monastery' and in chapter 42 he says that 'silence should be sought at all times' - in the world it's not easy to make complete sense of this, however, having lived in two completely different types of "religious" communities I can see why Benedict makes silence such a strict obligation. It prevents petty argument, gossip, backchat and all other sorts of conversation which breed bad energy. So basically what I'm saying is that silence seems to be the glue that holds everything together in a community of Christians who have to live in the same place......I wonder how the early church felt about it and how this lack of silence will affect life here at college...........

In the mean time though, I shall continue to be the baffling, meditative hesychast that I am, pondering on the sayings of the fathers, reciting the offices and I mustn't forget to attend lectures and write essays too!

More later! x

Friday, 17 September 2010

Mini Update!!!!!!

I got back from Douai and had the greatest time there! The monks were so human, so normal, they had none of that pious bulls*** you get from some Christians. What you saw was what you got, they were literally as one of the brothers put it "we're ordinary people trying to do an extraordinary thing". The silence, the work, the prayer all taught me things I would never have learnt elswhere. One day I had a conversation with The Abbot who was full of wisdom and truly spiritual insight shared with me some of his thoughts on the relation between Wesley and Benedict and I was totally taken back by some of his words - truly inspirational!

Results day happened and yepp I passed my A-Levels and am going to study Theology at Wesley House Cambridge, the Methodist Theological college there :)

I move in on Monday so I'm in the midst of packing, I promise to blog properly once I get set up there ohhh and YAYYYYYYYYY lol I handed in my final lot of Faith and Worship assignments so accreditation is not far off!


Monday, 2 August 2010

I'm offff!!!!!

Okay guys,
I'm off now! Prayers please - I shall be praying for most of you too!
God Bless, and watch this space :)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Into Great Silence..........

4 days to go until, I enter the enclosure of Douai Abbey!

There's always something nerve-racking about entering a monastery, and knowing that you will be there for some time......with no television, no internet and no mobile phone!

Each year, I always try and make a retreat to somewhere, I usually go to my own Abbey which is Ealing, but as it's just down the road - it doesn't quite fit the retreat description! Anywho, I'm SERIOUSLY looking forward to spending time in Solitude, Silence and Prayer - things which I think most people in today's world could most certainly benefit from.
As a Methodist Oblate of a Roman Catholic Benedictine Abbey, I am often asked questions from both sides as to why/how does Methodist theology relate to Benedictine theology and spirituality and whilst I personally, (and many wise others) know and understand the links between both, there are still those who don't quite get it. This time in the monastery should, I pray, help me and them to better understand.
I'll be picking plums, talking to goats, praying the divine office and walking :) I might even get to meet the bees which I didn't get to do last time!

The brethren at Douai are very welcoming and as they no longer have a school to run, things are a bit more "Monastic" there. The thing people always say about Benedictines not taking themselves too seriously is very true and some of the brothers are a good laugh too!

I won't be taking much with me as always, just some books on different topics and a tunic, scapular and some trousers and shirts (the bare minimum)!
So watch this space, I shall keep you updated!
And in the words of Benedict himself:
"Let us open our eyes to the light that can change us into the likeness of God. Let our ears be alert to the stirring call of his voice crying out to us each day: today if you should hear his voice, do not harden your hearts". Rule of St. Benedict [Prologue]

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Listening to God

Sitting down and listening to Rev Alison Tomlin's Presidential address to Methodist Conference was more inspiring than I had expected. I was waiting for the usual. You know, those speeches about caring for creation, or revitalising mission or something to that effect but this year the President's speech went to a whole new level! Clearly, she is a woman of extreme experience and her anointing is definately the kind of anointing that reaches through your PC screen and slaps you in the face! lol

For once, the church was urged to do what I feel it needs to do most 'Listen to God'. "Real, attentive, listening" as she put it.
I can't help but feel that the next year will be a good one for Methodism. I'm hoping that the number of candidates will continue to slowly increase and that the Diaconate especially sees more candidates. I'm praying that our President and Vice-President challenge us more than we have been in the past and I hope they challenge outside the church also!
It's quite strange having two women leading the church. It certainly makes a change from the past presidents and vice-presidents who have nearly all been men! Eunice and Alison definately bring something new, not quite sure what it is as yet, but I'm certainly liking it!
I know that they will be a blessing to the church and an encouragement to all the female ministers for whom this will mean quite alot.
All we need now is a black President of Conference, and many others so that God's people in all it's diversity is represented!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The End of one Chapter....The Start of Another!

Thirteen years of school education FINALLY over!
Gosh how time fly's, I can still remember the day my mother walked me into my classroom at primary school and left me in that big huge building all by myself with thousands of strangers called teachers! Now I'm the one getting ready to sit exams and bounce of to University.

I guess I should be excited and in many ways I am, but I can't help feel that little bit anxious!

Saying goodbye to some really great friends last Friday (the last day of sixth form) made me realise how much I'll miss it and them of course! The funny thing is, I was only at Drayton Manor for two years most people in the Sixth Form had been there since year 7 but still I feel that I've definately made some friends for life and being the "preacher guy" in the year made an interesting two years, I can tell you! I do often wonder though why the Church isn't making more of an effort to reach out to certain people.......but that's a story for another day!

I hope I showed them something of Christ's love and helped them to realise that God loves them no matter what, I guess I have to leave Him to do the rest and finish off the job :)

So, apart from all that, I've just finished reading a book called 'Journey to the Inner Mountain' by James Cowan an Australian author who decides to take himself off on a soul-searching journey to Egypt in the footsteps of St Antony and he ends up coming across an anchorite(hermit) named Lazarus who just happens to be living in a cave on Mt.Colzim and also happens to be an Australian too! It's a great read and boy has it been a challenge. I can't help but wonder what it was that made him realise that in order to get closer to God and really experience Him in all His fullness he had to drag his sister to a bunch of nuns and leave her there, climb up a mountain, make a cave his home and live there in silence, meditation, demon wrestling and prayer until his death. The idea of being able to enter into katastasis supreme stillness, to so much a point that you're breathing and moving with God is quite amazing. Read the book guys I promise you it's worth it!!

Anyway, I probably ought to get back to my revision :( exams are here and it sucks!
So back to Plato I go! Catch you soon ;)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Inadequate For the Task Ahead?

It's funny, recently more than usual I've been thinking heavily about ministry, my vocation and the future. Not a good idea for a person in the process of candidating for ordained ministry. I think it's a bit like a person contemplating jumping off a diving platform and thinking carefully about the distance between them and the deep pool beneath. If they thought about it in too much detail they'd probably go back down the steps and go home!

As a child, candidating for ministry seemed a bit like a fairytale - something a long, long way off that if ever it happened wouldn't be successful and not go the way I thought it ought to go. This week I've been preparing my portfolio, signing forms and receiving e-mails from church officials about the candidating process. Suddenly the reality hit me!

The thought of being a Methodist minister, with my own manse, my own flock, my own church(es) is a VERY startling one!

The thing I can't get my head around is why God, who is so majestic, so perfect and so great would call a sinner like me to work in His vineyard................. speaking to an older minister I know she said that feeling never goes away and we both agreed that it'd be pretty odd if a person thought themselves worthy of God's work in any case. That's all well and good but the feeling is still disconcerting and hard to deal with.

What if it's a hint...............?

It's so easy to think too much about something and in the end, a bit like the diver i was talking about to feel so fearful that we turn our back on the challenge and take the easier path. Sometimes I think I'd much rather go back down the steps and go home.........not much of a diver me.

There's something about offering for ministry that feels a bit like signing up to the army. Candidates really do put their lives into the hands of the selection committee and just have to hope for the best outcome. How can these people who don't know me or know much about my vocation, make a fair decision on whether i'm "fit" for ministry or not?

True faith, they say, is trust. I'm not in the mood for trusting God at the's that time of year. Exams are coming, university awaits, driving tests, music tests and all sorts are approaching ohhh not to forget the candidating portfolio and the last of my preaching assignments as well as my final interview and all of that. To be honest I'd much rather do it in my own strength, in my own way, at my own pace and keep God out of the picture, but as we all know telling the guy upstairs to get lost only ends in complete mess, so I guess i'm sticking with Him for this one!

Prayers please! For me............................... ohhh, and all the others who are jumping off the diving platform into that daunting pool called the Candidating process!