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

Enjoy :)

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!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Into the Wilderness...........

So here we are, Lent is truly underway and I guess for most of us we're eagerly awaiting Easter Sunday whether it's just because we want to be able to start eating properly again or if more piously we're waiting to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Last week, I read a few of Wesley's Sermon's (yes call me sad)!! and in his sermon entitiled 'Satan's Devices' he says that when temptation comes our way, we should: 'praise God, trust God, and press on to glory!' I can't think of anything better for us to do when we're there with our saviour in the wilderness but to praise God, trust God and press on to Glory! It's in our praising of God that we remember all that he has done for us, in trusting him that we realise all he will do and by pressing onto Glory that we focus ourselves physically and mentally on our heavenly futures.
As the saying goes "the devil makes work for idol hands" so I guess, we all ought to get busy doing "kingdom business"!
So when temptaion comes and sin tries to take hold of us, we praise God, trust God and press on to Glory!
And when we fail as we sometimes will, we take ourselves to the cross and offer both our temptaions and our failures up to God in prayer.
God Bless you, this Lent!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Sharing Sacred Ground

One thing that frustrates me more than anything else is being misunderstood! I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.!
As Christians, we are called each and every one of us to share our faith. Whether through word or deed, however we do it, it's essential that we do. But I know from experience that it's not always easy.
Last year taught me many things about sharing faith. The most important lesson I learnt was that being human is so essential in ministry. I also learnt how important it is to meet people where they are. When talking to other people about my faith I've often had to water it down a great deal or often had it watered down for me! lol learning to swallow our pride is a hard lesson to learn but if we're to be any good sharing our faith we ought to have a little humility and accept people where we find them.
I don't know whether you've been watching Celebrity Big Brother this week but Stephen Baldwin has quite literally become the 'Big Brother House Evangelist', it's quite funny actually! Despite me taking the mick out of him whilst sitting on the sofa, he has actually made an impact in there. In one day he managed to change Heidi Fleiss' outlook on life. She was a prostitute in America who was well known for running a successful yet illegal prostitute ring and through a conversation with Stephen she seems to have realised that she is of value and worth, and that she is loved by God and this lead to her to deciding that she would never go back to working like that again. Apart from this he even had the whole house saying grace before dinner and doing Bible study! Now, it's not my method of evangelism at all but I do thank God for Stephen's witness and pray that the Spirit may speak through him.
At the top of this post is a picture of me and a very close friend Muzammil (Muzie), we were classmates in my first year at Sixth Form but our class was split up last year and we are now all in different classes! When I first started at the Sixth Form, me and Muzie instantly "clicked"! I was the preacher and he was the dedicated Muslim. We often share "sacred ground" in the Sixth form common room and have what we call "Religious talk" lol. It's a blessing to be a Christian in a Sixth form and have the opportunity to show people how two people of different faiths can get together and not have a heated argument and it's also great to show that the Church and those who serve within it are actually human! That we're not all life-less Bible-bashers and homophobics. But that actually we're not totally different from those around us!

Gracious God,
In this world which is so diverse and so complex,
so confused and so full of darkness,
so full of un-truth and deceit.
We ask and pray that you would help us bring your love and your light
to the people and the situations in which you place us.
Make us fountains of your love and your truth so that in your power and through your Spirit, we may make a change in this world and make it once again your Kingdom- creation healed.
In your name,

Monday, 4 January 2010

'A Brand Plucked from the Burning'

Tis I (lol)! A rather serene picture don't you think?? Courtesy of Debby Romain at All Saints Notting Hill :P
Well, I thought I ought to tell you something about me and what I believe.
So here we go.......
Firstly let me say that I believe in a God who loves all people, no matter who they are or what they've done. A God who is always ready and willing to forgive. A God who sees all people as equal and precious in His sight. And I believe this because I believe that this is the essence and the truth that is the Christian Gospel and any Christian who says or believes otherwise has never (sadly) experienced the love and grace of Jesus Christ!
lol okay now I've finished ranting!!
I'm also as many will know a Methodist, a High Wesleyan Sacramentalist to be precise and a very proud one too! Unlike most Methodists my age I wasn't always one, I was once a Roman Catholic and I think it still shows lol. You may think this a tad out of order but I do consider myself as Susannah Wesley once put it 'a brand plucked from the burning'! Each day I thank God for bringing me back to Methodism and believe me I wouldn't be anywhere else!
Methodism has always for me, represented a Church that has from the very outset been on the "frontline"! There helping God's people wherever they may be. One can look through history and find a Methodist doing something somewhere. Go see for yourself! I'm also a Methodist because I believe that as a Church we've got things pretty worked out for a denomination only 300 and something years old.
After being with what in my eyes is a fantastic denomination for about 11 years I finally decided that I had to do something with the Vocation (the call, the purpose) God gave me when I was younger 6 to be precise.
And to cut a veeerrrrrry long story short (though I promise to break it down for you sometime) I began training as a preacher in September 2007 at the crazy age of 15 and I don't regret a second of it!
I long to see more young Methodists encouraged to think about what their call my be and I urge you to think about what it is God is calling you to do for Him?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Jeremiah, Jarel and Timothy....??

Damn that Lemon Drizzle was nice!!!
Anyway, I thought I ought to explain the name of this blog.
It's pretty simple! Jeremiah and Timothy were both Bible characters. Jeremiah was called by God at a pretty young age and Timothy also known as St Timothy was St Paul's right hand man. As someone who began preaching at 15 I naturally related to both Jeremiah and Timothy as good role models. When I was in the early stages of vocational discernment and was really trying to work out exactly what it was God was calling me to, one passage from Timothy was quite literally a God-send!

'Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
15Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.' (1 Timothy 12-16) NIV

Here the Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy his "true son in the faith" who was appointed Bishop of Ephesus. My understanding is that Timothy came under much criticism for being appointed a Bishop at such a young age and so Paul writes to him as he always does, to encourage and support him.
I've always gone back to this piece of Scripture when I've felt that my calling has been undermined by older, "wiser" Christians. It's good to know that I'm not the only one whose call was doubted because of my age and it's helpful to read about prophets and preachers like Jeremiah, Samuel and Timothy who had similar experiences.
As Christians we know that God alone saves, but its essential for us too to realise that as Christians we can be God's instruments in bringing that salvation to others. After all, salvation is both and event and a process. While we are saved at the time of conversion, we are still being saved in the sense of being further formed into the image of Christ Jesus.

Loving Lord, as we prepare to get back to our busy hectic routines this coming week help us to be always a kingdom people. Help us to keep alive within our hearts the joy that you bring to us at Christmas. Teach us to learn how to be carriers of The Word so that we may share that joy with those we meet. Give us peace, and courage to face the tasks ahead of us and may your blessing and your peace which is so adequate, rest upon our hearts and souls, In the name of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

God Bless you and have a great week!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Lemon Drizzle!!

Well, today I actually got up before 3pm it's a miracle!!!! I was up at 11.30 what the hell is that about?? I guess it was a blessing in disguise because it meant I was able to send my preaching assignments off at the post office after about 4 failed attempts! It's all about meeting that 31st March deadline!!!! :D Apart from gettiing up early I also managed to understand a whole chapter of my A-level Philsophy book (for the first time ever) It was all about persons, non-persons, diminished persons and when exactly do persons stop being persons and become non-persons??? Baffled....yeahh me too!
I'm tired from a pretty difficult pastoral visit I had to do today so God Bless and Goodnight I'm off to kill some lemon drizzle :D

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year!!!!!!

So here we are! First day of the year. I'm sure I'm not the only one who sighed with relief as 2009 finally ended! This year for me will bring a hell of alot of change, not only do I have to make sure I pass my A2's for University but I'm also preparing to Candidate for methodist ministry in September which is a pretty huge thing for me. It's funny I've just finished reading a book on Rev Dr Leslie Weatherhead who is perhaps one of Britains if not the world's most famous preachers. He was the minister of City Temple a Congregationalist Church in Holborn where each sunday he would draw crowds of people who would queue up just to listen to him preach. When a young preacher like me reads about a preaching giant like Dr Weatherhead it can put so many doubts into one's mind "How can I ever live up to this"? "can I ever really preach like him"? I think we have to accept that when God calls us, he calls us just as we are warts and all. I think I have to accept too that God has called me primarily to be a good disciple and secondly a good preacher. I was only half way through Dr Weatherheads book 'Doctor of Souls' and thought right Jarel it's time to up your game! Time to be a better preacher, disciple, a better person in general and what better time to start than at the beginning of a New Year and Decade? Today I finished the book and came to realise that though Leslie Weatherhead was a "success" (to put it in worldy terms) he was also deeply human. He struggled with his faith, even doubted at times. He had a mental breakdown and was often deeply depressed in his ministry. He got angry and frustrated with himself and the Church and often felt very misunderstood. It's so easy to read about people we admire and place them so high above us and forget that they were actually human. Here's a man who in my eyes was one of the greatest Christians this country has ever seen yet he was evidently far from "perfect". This year I think we ought to realise that we all have our faults and our sinfulness. We ought to put our hand in God's and leave the rest to Him! Have a blessed 2010!