Friday, 27 November 2009

'All will be well' Julian of Norwich

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
– Julian of Norwich

These words have been a great comfort to me as we face a period of intense change And I have been helped by the following from Patrick Comerford's Blog

Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) is one of the greatest English mystics. When she was 30, she suffered a severe illness and, believing she was on her deathbed, had a series of intense visions that ended on 13 May 1373. She recorded these visions and then reflected on them in theological depth 20 years later in Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love– the first book written in English by a woman.

Julian’s positive outlook does not come from ignoring suffering or being blind to it, but arises from the clarity she attained as she struggled with her own questions. This struggle gave her the ability to see beyond the pain and suffering and to look into the compassionate face of God. Only this gazing could reassure her that – despite pain, and sorrow – in God’s own time, “all shall be well.”

According to Julian, the unfathomable mystery of love is the supreme sign of the reality of God, and sin is necessary so that we can become, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “instruments of love in the hands of God.”

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Wild horses couldn't keep me away !

Hamid Karzai's inauguration in Kabul was attended by 40 foreign dignitaries and a large crowd of Afghan Nationals. The city itself was quiet. a public holiday was declared. I watched some of the ceremony itself on Afghan TV. Nothing untoward has happened so far.

The BBC reported on the day. I also read some of the comments on the BBC discussion: Can this be a new beginning? So many were negative and written by people I can only presume have not got a clue about how things are here in Kabul. So I made the following contribution to the debate:

I am from UK but currently visiting Kabul. So far the Afghans I have spoken to seem pleased with the inauguration. One said that all the wild animals had been running wild in the zoo. Now most have been put back in cages. It takes time for any system of government to develop. Karzai is in between the rock and a hard place. Western preconceptions of what democracy should look like in a place like Afghanistan and militant commanders ready to run wild again. Give the man (and country) a chance.
There is a dignity about people here in Afghanistan and I discern a real desire to build the nation and restore normality (whatever that means). Karzai's Govt must make this work. The alternatives are unimaginable.
But even if the wild animals are loose again, the humanitarian work and Nation building needs to continue.

Wild horses couldn't keep me away from this place!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

11:11:11 Remembrance

At 11am on 11th of November we have a tradition to remember all those who have fallen in Armed conflict, since world war one (The Original Armistace day was 11o'clock on 11th Nov 1918) The tradition is marked by 2 minutes of silence and it is an opportunity to remember those who have died (in every conflict: Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan to name but a few) and pray for those who grieve their loss and also to pray for peace in the world today.

The following is some of the material I used in services of remembrance

WDYTYA - who do you think you are?

Many of us have been into family history, so now Armistace Day is when I remember 2 great uncles, both killed in Ypres – Pvt 8936 Albert Edward Toms of the 2nd Suffolk Rgt was KIA in Ypres in Feb 1915, 4 days before his 18th birthday, one of 54,896 listed on the Menin Gate and Cpl 5021 Ernest Gibbons of the 1st Royal Irish Rifles, KIA 1st Oct 1918 (after fighting most of the war) He was 'buried' in Dadizeele, near Ypres.

Harry Patch the last fighting Tommy died this year so there were no more WW1 veterans taking part in remembrance services around the country. 'The old boys are leaving' A YouTube video commemorates his life to the requiem music from Band of Brothers.


Poetry can capture some of the conflicts and contradictions of War and can speak in very personal ways. The 2 poems I have chosen are written in 1915 and 2009

'In Flanders Fields' Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.

Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lieIn Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies growIn Flanders fields.

HELMUND A poem by John Hawkhead

Author's introduction This poem concerns the current operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. My intention was to draw parallels between military operations using the poppy, which is grown extensively for opium and ironically is also the symbol we use for Remembrance Day.


Night on the cold plain,

invisible sands lift,

peripheral shadows stir,

space between light and dark

shrouding secrets;

old trades draped grey.

Here too poppies fall,

petals blown on broken ground,

seeds scattered on stone

and this bright bloom,

newly cropped,
leaves pale remains,

fresh lines cut;

the old sickle wind

sharp as yesterday.


The red poppy speaks powerfully of Flanders and has become the symbol of Remembrance, whilst the white poppy brings us up to date to the opium fields of Afghanistan and has also become a symbol of Peace.

We used paper red and white poppies as prayers

Red Poppy – write the name of someone who has died who is known personallly ( or to an 'unknown Soldier') or the name of a conflict.

White poppy - write a prayer for World Peace - or a place or person needing 'peace'

We then placed the poppies in a bowl or on a table at the foot of the cross (to the music of Benedictus sung by Hayley Westenra)


Playing For Change as a group of musicians from around the world who have come together (vitually) to promote Peace. It seemed very appropriate to play their video War/No more trouble during the service

War has eroded religious faith for many but it was out of the context of a WW2 concentration camp, that this powerful expression of faith in the face of adversity was written by a Jew:

‘I believe in the sun even when it is not shining

I believe in love even when I cannot feel it

I believe in God even when he is silent….'

Monday, 2 November 2009

'That's the way it is' Asia CMS

Aamir from Pakistan has put together a little video about Asia CMS

If you are interested in becoming part of this great little team, then look us up on Facebook
and participate in a little of what God is getting up to in Asia ......


Sunday, 1 November 2009

Morning Calm in Westminster Abbey, London

I attended Westminster Abbey sung Eucharist commemorating the 120th anniversary of the consecration of Charles John Corfe First Bishop of Korea.

The current Bishop of Seoul, Paul Kim, was the preacher - He spoke of Corfe a naval chaplain leaving a peaceful life in England to go to the wilderness of Korea in 1889. and the huge responsibility of creating something out of nothing. He was impressed by his 'faith, passion for mission and commitment' and this has in turn inspired the Korean Anglican church to 'listen to the cries for help of others' and to 'join hands with brothers and sisters in Asia'. The church has taken 'small steps to walk in Bishop Corfe's shoes'.

I was in Korea last month hearing about those small steps as the Korean International Mission (KIM) is forging relationships with Myanmar, Vietnam, Philippines as well as China. This is in addition to Korean priests serving in Japan, USA, Canada, UK, Zimbabwe N Cyprus and Mongolia. These are bold steps in the same pioneering spirit as Corfe.

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The service had its moments of inspiration - as the choir sung the Gloria and later Agnes Dei - and my eyes were lifted to the huge stained glass rose window, a moment of 'morning calm' in the midst of a general busyness

I discovered that our very own Bishop of Guildford, Christopher Hill is the Vice-President of the Korean Mission Partnership which was formed to support this historic initiative of the founding and nurture of the Korean Anglican Church. Their magazine newsletter is called 'Morning Calm' - their August edition is downloadable as a pdf. You can also read about the history of Anglican in Corea (not a spelling mistake)

Afterwards we had wine and nibbles in the Abbey Museum courtesy of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey surrounded by Kings and Queens of England. An opportunity to mingle and meet the many Korean guests, for whom this was a very special occasion.

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Korea is also known as the 'Land of Morning Calm'