Our Poverty, God’s Dwelling Place

More wisdom from Henri Nouwen. How tender though is our journey when we do let ourselves abide in our place of poverty, even though it is precisely where God also abides:

How can we embrace poverty as a way to God when everyone around us wants to become rich? Poverty has many forms. We have to ask ourselves: “What is my poverty?” Is it lack of money, lack of emotional stability, lack of a loving partner, lack of security, lack of safety, lack of self-confidence? Each human being has a place of poverty. That’s the place where God wants to dwell! “How blessed are the poor,” Jesus says (Matthew 5:3). This means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty.

We are so inclined to cover up our poverty and ignore it that we often miss the opportunity to discover God, who dwells in it. Let’s dare to see our poverty as the land where our treasure is hidden.

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Iraq: Pray – Act – Give

The Church of England is joining calls to encourage its members to pray, act and give to those suffering in Iraq.

Churches are being encouraged to Pray.

The Archbishop of York issued three prayers for Mosul and the third of these can be used for all those fleeing persecution whether in Ebril, on Mount Sinjar or elsewhere in the country. A collection of Prayers for peace can also be found here on the Church of England website.

Further prayer resources for Iraq have also been offered by Tearfund and Christian Aid.

Churches are being encouraged to Act.

Individuals and Churches are being encouraged to download this poster and to display it in homes, churches and noticeboards to display their support for all religious minorities fleeing persecution.

The poster uses the Arabic letter, “N”, which has been daubed on the homes of Christians (often called ‘Nasrani’ in Arabic) in Mosul to identify them as targets for persecution or execution. This symbol has been picked up around the world as a way in which we can identify with those from all religious and ethnic communities who are being targeted by ISIS. As a church, we are committed to championing freedom of religion and belief worldwide as a fundamental and internationally recognised human right. Even in the UK, we stand firmly against any labelling or targeting of people on the basis of their religion, and we work for a society that continues to be welcoming and respectful of all faiths.

The Archbishop of Canterbury issued a statement on the situation in Iraq here.  In the statement Archbishop Justin stated “It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety. I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom’s doors should be open to refugees, as they have been throughout history.”

The Bishops of Manchester, Leeds and Worcester have also called for asylum to be granted to those fleeing persecution. The Bishops of the Diocese of Lichfield have issued this statement.

Churches and individuals are being encouraged to write to their local MPs urging them to press the Government to increase Britain’s humanitarian efforts for all those affected by the crisis and to ask for asylum to be granted to a fair number of those who will be unable to return to their homes. Local MPs can be contacted via this site. The aim must be to assist those who have been displaced to return to their homes. In many cases this won’t be possible and alternative arrangements will need to be found.

UK humanitarian support has been welcome as has humanitarian support from the UN and others. But, the need is currently much greater than the support that is being provided. This will be a sustained crisis and support will be needed for the long term, as well as to meet immediate needs now.

Christians are being asked to Give.

Donations can be made to the Anglican Diocese for Cyprus and the Gulf which is part of the Church network functioning alongside the Kurdish authorities in the absence of the normal international relief agencies. The immediate need is funds for food. The next priority is providing accommodation for those sleeping in schools or even in the streets. People on the ground in Erbil expect even more refugees from the surrounding area. Funds from various church agencies worldwide are being pooled through this committee in the attempt to meet the needs of as many as possible, among both Christians and non-Christians, all who have lost their homes and livelihoods, and have been looted of all worldly possessions.

Churches can also fund the work of Canon Andrew White at St. George’s Church in Baghdad and his Foundation for Relief and reconciliation in the Middle East. Canon Andrew White has provided harrowing insight into the persecution being suffered by Iraqi Christians and the Iraqi people by ISIS.

Churches are also encouraged to give to Christian Aid’s Iraq Crisis Appeal. Christian Aid is responding to the humanitarian crisis by working through long standing partners that are operational in the North of Iraq and Kurdistan.

The above text is taken from the Church of England’s resource page on the Iraq crisis at https://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/international-affairs/north-africa-and-the-middle-east/iraq.aspx. The page will be refreshed regularly.

And with Edinburgh in mind…

Holyrood’s remodelled but the crown
And all the court is off to London Town.
The Thomsons though have just arrived from Perth
With stays for sale to help the court lose girth.
A few years later and they too have sailed
For Millbank (swamp not stonebuilt then) – and failed
First tailoring a while on Oxford Street
But soon as debtors locked up in the Fleet.
Three hundred years have past and (for six days)
We’re back near Holyrood on holidays.
But where I wonder will the Thomson clan
Belong if independence is the plan?
But Jean’s an Elliot of Binks, and so
It’s border reiving we will go: hey ho!

A Sonnet for Great Yarmouth


Turned tail on its once darling silver quay
The town o’erleaps its long redundant walls
Now lost among the streets and shopping malls
To mine a golden mile astrand the sea.
From ruined towers the gulls observe new prey
And watch as traders lure their catch with light
With ne’er a northern gutting girl in sight
For tourists are the herring of today.
So all is sleepy by the river’s side
Fine history hanging like a funeral pall
By blinded window, dumb and boarded hall
Where Norfolk ladies used to live with pride.
Nelson awake, your touch can still have weight
And may old Yarmouth once again be Great.

It’s a Small World (in the 18th Century)

The second half of our holiday has taken us to Norfolk, and this time it is Jean’s family that are waiting for us in the wings. We stopped by at Rougham which a rather distant ancestor, Roger North (the author of The  Lives of the Norths) retired as a non-juror. The Norths come into the family tree through a Boydell descendant who married Jean’s ancestor William Jones. They had a daughter Mary Ann, who married the son of society artist Sir William Beechey. Beechey was close to the royal family as he was in demand at the court and had a studio in the palace. (There is a family story about the Beechey children hiding under the throne while the King was sitting for their father on it, only to be discovered – fortunately to laughter all round.) Another close friend and sitter was Admiral Lord St Vincent who was godfather to Mary Ann’s husband, who was named St Vincent after him as was his son in turn (and confusingly both were also Canons, and Rectors respectively of Hilgay (where the Joneses lived) and Denver). Admiral St Vincent was Lord Nelson’s superior early in his career, and Nelson too sat for Beechey (portrait above), and also became godfather to one of his sons, similarly named Nelson after him. Beechey begged the bicorne hat, complete with bullet hole, that that Nelson wore at the Battle of the Nile as a christening present for him, and this stayed in that family for a while, but is now of whereabouts unknown. Nelson’s hats – he got through a lot – were made for him by Lock’s of St James, and a replica is in display at the Nelson Museum in Great Yarmouth, together with a book priced at just £1 entirely devoted to the subject. The museum is full of interesting information about Nelson and his family, of which the saddest parts are those to do with Emma (Lady Hamilton), who found herself after Nelson’s death imprisoned for debt in the King’s Bench Prison in London along with their daughter Horatia. Thankfully they were, as was often the case, allowed to live outside the prison in their own accommodation – permission which will have been given by the Marshal of the Prison: who was the William Jones with whom our story began.

Home and Away


The first part of our holiday this year took us to Edinburgh, along with my dad, both to see our daughter who lives there and to enjoy the Fringe. We stayed in an apartment just off the Canongate, and the trip was also something of an act of pietas, since the flat was just a stone’s throw away from where my folks lived in the eighteenth century. My five-greats grandfather, another David, was a staunch Presbyterian (the family were in Perth when John Knox – centre picture, from the Great Tapestry of Scotland – preached there), and would have worshipped at the Canongate Kirk alongside the poet Robert Fergusson, whose rather graceful statue (left) now stands outside it. The city of course was full of talk of The Vote (it was the time of the Darling-Salmond debate); which left me feeling rather strange. Was I ‘home’, or ‘away’? Was this a matter for me to engage with, or just something for those living in Scotland today? By nature, no surprise to those who know me, I am a ‘better together’ person: interdependence rates highly as a value for me, qualifying both those of independence and undifferentiated unity. But that is ethical theory not practical politics, and I am no politician. I feel rather proud of the new Scots Parliament, both its building (right) and its work, and I respect the right of those elected now to take the lead. But I also agree with Burke that the governance of society is a contract not only with the people of the present but with those of the last and the future as well, so I am loth to too quickly unpick a union that has served us well for nearly all the modern period of our history. Interesting times. 

ENEWS 8th August 2014

Come to the Diocesan celebration of Shared Ministry! Thursday 4th September 2014 – 6.15pm Reception – 7.00pm Service of Celebration 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church of England, and the 70th anniversary of the ordination of the first woman in the Anglican Communion.

Following the national celebrations in May, and the recent General Synod decision to allow women to be made bishops, our diocese will celebrate 20 years of this shared ministry at a special service in our Cathedral on Thursday 4th September.

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