Good Friday Reflection

Today is Good Friday in the Christian calendar, the day that commemorates when Jesus Christ was crucified. 

We had a service in church this morning that looked at the last seven sentences that Jesus spoke during the time on the cross, and members were asked if they wanted to provide a reflection on them. I wanted to speak and I was given the sentence “Woman, behold your son; son, behold your mother”. It was the third sentence Jesus spoke, and he said it to John his favourite disciple and Mary his mother.

The video at the end was also used during the service and formed the basis for our reflections.  The text below is my reflection on that piece of scripture. I have written it as it was intended to be spoken, and the pauses are written into the text.  God bless you.

Behold your son: behold your mother

If you have children you’ll know that feeling…when they are learning to walk and they bump into things…when they fall over and skin their knees or split their lip…when you see them leaning over the bannisters at the top of the stairs and your heart disappears into your stomach as you reach out to try to stop them hurting themselves.

Later on, when they are beginning to find their own way in the world and you stand by watching them mess up friendships…make mistakes at school…get frustrated because they don’t understand some bit of homework or something and you reach out to try and rescue them from the pain of their misunderstanding.

Each time they are ill and your sleep is disturbed with endless trips to the bathroom either to rub their back or to clean up after them… or to change their bedding after little accidents.

As teenagers, struggling with the hormone soup raging through them…wishing desperately that you could take some of that angst from them and getting upset because *they* are upset.

You feel proud of their mini triumphs and successes, and as you see them grow, you are happy that they are beating their own path, wondering at where that special wisdom they have all of their own came from.

You can imagine how Mary felt at the foot of the cross that day… proud of her son because he is fulfilling his destiny…yet…horrified at the torture he has already been through…living through every agonised breath with him, knowing that she couldn’t take him in her arms and comfort him as she would have done when he was a child…knowing that there was only one outcome here.

Behold your son.

The agony of your heart is up there…nailed to a cross…laid bare…his flesh is your flesh…he is dying…and you can do nothing but stand there with him.

And yet… in the middle of this agony…your son speaks. His concern is for you.

He knows that after today, without him, your life is over too…no one to look after you, no one to take you in, no one to feed you or clothe you, no one to provide shelter for you, no one to care what happens to you. And he speaks…

Behold your son: Behold your mother.

Words spoken to John, his closest friend…and to Mary his mother.

He is handing over the status of “son” to John, effectively pairing Mary together with him as mother and son so they will both have a future.

A chance at living life.

A chance for Mary…avoiding certain destitution…a chance for John too, to experience the privilege of being known as Mary’s son. Urging them to adopt each other.

Just as God adopts us into his family, Jesus asks John and Mary to adopt each other for the same reason.

In the throes of his own death, Jesus puts the needs of the two people who he loves most before his own pain and suffering.

As a parent, it is the most natural thing in the world to put yourself between pain and your child.

But for Jesus, with a habit of turning things on their head, the most natural thing for him to do is to put himself between pain and his mother.




Maundy Thursday

maundy thursdayToday is Maundy Thursday in the Christian calendar. It is the day before Good Friday and commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ and his Apostles. The Last Supper is an important event for Christians because it is where Jesus demonstrated his love for his disciples and his status as “servant king” by washing their feet before they ate their meal. Jesus issued his new commandment to them: “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another as I have loved you”.

The term “Maundy” comes from the that phrase in Latin (Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos) – “mandatum” meaning “commandment”.

The Last Supper is the event where Jesus revealed God’s new promise, that by his death and resurrection, sin was washed clean and death was not the end of life. He broke bread, representing the breaking of his body, and shared wine with them which represented the spilling of his blood on the cross. It was part of the Passover feast which is a Jewish tradition where a sacrificial lamb was eaten in thanks to God for him sparing them, setting them free from Egyptian slavery some 3,300 years earlier. Christians recognise Jesus as “the lamb of God”, the one who was sacrificed so that everyone else might live.

There are several traditions around Maundy Thursday, particularly in Europe. Among them, here in England, the Queen distributes “Maundy Money” to selected people in England, a tradition that dates back over 1600 years. Before the tradition died out about 400 years ago (possibly because the risk of catching a fatal disease from them proved too great for the King), the monarch would wash the feet of the recipients of Maundy Money too. Nowadays, that particular practice is carried out by some Catholic priests as part of saying mass, and it is symbolically done in churches all over the world by others.

Other Christians refer to Maundy Thursday as “Holy Thursday”. I know it is a Holy day, but I do like the history and quirkiness attached to “Maundy Thursday”. I think some antiquarian terms are worth hanging on to, especially when we understand where they come from.

What about you? Do you call today “Maundy Thursday”, or “Holy Thursday”?

Do you know anyone who has received Maundy Money from the Queen? Do they like to talk about it? Can you stop them talking about it??

Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.


Book Review – Lady of Hay

lady of hayTitle: Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine


The hard-hitting, tough journalist girl-about-town Jo Clifford is doing some research for a series of articles for a women’s magazine into regression and past lives, and finds that she is a very good hypnotic candidate herself. Whilst hypnotised she experiences a sequence of events that indicate she is tapping into/has slipped into the memories of Matilda, the Lady of Hay in the title of the book. As the story unfolds, Jo gets drawn into Matilda’s story more and more, and the line between the present and the past get more and more blurred.

Who are the main characters?

In the modern day, the central characters are Jo Clifford, Nick and Sam Franklyn and various hangers on. The historical characters were mainly Matilda and William de Braose, Richard de Clare and Prince (later King) John.

Where is it set?

The main locations are London and various castles in Wales.

My overall impression?

I first read this when I was about 17 or 18 at college in the 1980’s and the idea of past-life regression has fascinated me ever since, as had this particular book. The edition I read had a bonus short story as an extended epilogue, bringing the story right up to date which is why I picked it up again, and I was looking forward to reading it again. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed this time round.

First of all – the character Jo. She is billed as this tough, go-getter who takes no messing from other people. We are led to believe she is strong and independent, and yet throughout this book she is pushed around by everyone she meets. She is totally incapable of functioning without either a cup of coffee or a bottle of Scotch on the go and she comes across as so weak it’s as if the blurb on the book is talking about a different character.

Secondly – the book is overlong by about 30%. It was far too repetitive and could easily have been wrapped up without the long winded middle bit. I did enjoy the new addition at the end…but that again was a bit long and could have done with a bit of a trim.

Thirdly – there were far too many characters to keep track of. I get annoyed when characters share similar names (I kind of skim through names as I’m reading so if there are two characters with the same initial I get slowed down differentiating them) and this book had “Jo” and “Judy” to contend with. Also, until about half way through I kept getting the characters Nick and Sam confused in my head. They were badly drawn to begin with and I ended up not caring which was which. And that’s before we get to the 12th Century characters…

On a positive note, I did enjoy the “historical” story of Matilda and William and I did care about what happened to them, and I did like the way that the two stories were interwoven in the book. Barbara Erskine cannot be faulted for her historical research into the stories of the 12th Century figures and her knowledge of historic households and relationships.

Will I read the next in the series?

This was the original “past meets present” book from Barbara Erskine and I have read several of hers since then. Each one is different, but kind of the same if that makes sense? This one is the only one I’ve read where the present goes back to the past (Jo regresses to the 12th Century) and the others are all where the past comes to the present. They have all book good reads and no doubt I will read another in the future.

Would I recommend it to my friends?

Hmmm… I wouldn’t give it a thumping big endorsement, but neither would I steer people away from it neither.

It would appeal to anyone who is interested in historical fiction, and to anyone who is interested to read about hypnotism. I would warn you that there is absolutely no scientific proof that hypnotic regression actually exists, so this book is pure fiction in that respect.



The Three Sieves

3 sievesEmily came rushing into her grandma’s house. “Gran, Gran, there’s something I’m dying to tell you…”

“Wait a moment,” her grandma broke in with a wise smile. “Whatever it is you want to tell me, have you shaken it through the three sieves?”

“Three sieves?” Emily asked, puzzled.

“Yes, my love. Three sieves!” Let’s see whether your story will go through the three sieves. The first sieve is the truth. Have you thought about whether what you are going to tell me is true?”

“Well,” hesitated Emily. “I heard it from someone else, so I’m not absolutely sure…”

“Right,” said Gran. “That was an honest answer. So let’s try it through the second sieve. This is the sieve of goodness. Since what you are going to tell me is not necessarily true, then is it at least something good?”

Emily lowered her eyes. “Well, no,” she admitted. “Not really. In fact, quite the opposite.”

“Well,” the wise grandma continued, “Let’s use the third sieve and see whether what you are going to tell me, even if neither true nor good, is at least necessary.”

“Well, not exactly necessary…” Emily sank into a thoughtful silence.

“So,” Gran said, giving Emily an understanding hug, “since what you were going to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor necessary, I suggest that we bury it deep in the ground of forgetfulness, where it won’t cause any heartache to anyone ever again.”


Source Unknown



Book Review – The Shack

The Shack book cover
The Shack – William Paul Young

Title: “The Shack” by William Paul Young


The novel begins with Mack receiving a note in his mailbox from “Papa”, saying that he would like to meet with him that coming weekend at the shack. As Mack hasn’t seen his abusive father since he left home when he was 13, Mack is confused. It dawns on him that the invitation could be from God, whom his wife Nan refers to as “Papa”. With great trepidation and suspicion, Mack sets off for the shack without telling his family. Will this turn out to be a hoax? Is someone playing a trick on him? If it is true then why would God want to talk to him of all people?

My overall impression?

I thought this was going to either be a wishy washy evangelical attempt at a novel that would leave me cold and a little bit embarrassed, or it would be a thumping good read that would stretch me and make me think. I am glad to report it was the latter.

When Mack travels to the shack he has no idea what is going to meet him when he gets there, or how the weekend was going to play out and that was kind of how I felt about starting to read this book. I tried a couple of times to start it and (ironically enough) it was on my third attempt when I got hooked into it. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away because it really would spoil it for you if you decide to read it yourself, but I can tell you that it is a fantastically multi-layered story that gave me plenty of food for thought.

Mack does indeed meet God and over the course of the next few days they talk. And talk. And listen. And talk some more.

The content of their conversations are fascinating and they made me think a bit differently about the spiritual side of life and made me think a lot about relationships – how they are the glue that hold us together, how love never ever dies, and so much more. It made me think a lot about judgement, and forgiveness too in ways that hadn’t occurred to me before.

On the downside some of it was pretty far-fetched, even to a very openly spiritual person like myself. I didn’t like the personification of God in the way that was done here, although I can see why it was done that way. (As before, if I tell you how that is done then it will spoil the book if you read it yourself). I can also see how the book would challenge the established church, but by the same token who’s to say that they have all the answers anyway? 

Who are the main characters?

The central characters are Mack and of course God, and the story is told in the third person by Mack’s friend Willie. Mack’s wife and children also figure in the story, especially his daughter Missy.

Where is it set?

The American Northwest, specifically Multnomah Falls and Oregon. The countryside is described beautifully and it is somewhere I would love to go and visit myself someday.

Will I read the next in the series?

I’m not sure. I believe there is a book called “The Shack Revisited” but I think that everything that needed to be said was said in this one. I can’t imagine what else could be added with another book. Unless there is someone else who is working through some pain and grief in their lives in the same way Mack was but then, what would I learn new from the next one that hasn’t already been told in this one?

Would I recommend it to my friends?

I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in Christianity or who has questions about how others see how God works. It also works as a classic “whodunit” to a certain degree, although that part of the story doesn’t resolve fully. If you have any thoughts yourself about spirituality, or have questions about the holy trinity then this is one that would certainly give you something to go at.






Daybook Entry – 7th April


Outside my window… it is a dark and stormy night out there. My newly planted pea plants are drowning in the deluge – I just hope they recover when the sun starts to shine again!

I am thinking… that I need to recover my mojo for blogging. There has been so much going on recently and I have been working hard at my studies that it has taken a bit of a back seat recently. To be honest I’ve missed the interaction with all my bloggy friends as much as anything. Hopefully now things have calmed down a bit at home and with essay writing I can dedicate a bit more time online. (Don’t worry, I’ve been absent on email and Facebook too!)

I am thankful… to see the end of my latest assignment for the OU. I don’t know why this one has been so much harder than the rest but I really had to grind out my 1500 words for today’s deadline. I think being so poorly last week set me back a bit, and I’ve had other responsibilities at church to deal with first so it has all been a bit of a juggling act. The topic was to present my opinion on what were the three biggest developments that had impact on patients in the 19th Century, which was fair enough. The trouble was that every time I tried to argue that something was good for patients I managed to end up arguing myself out of it and saying that it had more impact on the practitioners than the patients. ARGH! I’ll be happy with a bare pass for this one, I was just so glad to see the back of it.

In the kitchen… I made my spicy beefy tomatoey pasta for tea tonight. I’ve not been up to cooking much recently and it made a nice change.

I am wearing… typically for my daybook, I’m ready for bed in my t-shirt and sloppy joe bottoms.

I am creating… I am halfway through crocheting a summer shawl for myself. I have been promising myself that I would make something for myself for months and months now, and I have been doing a few minutes here and there when I’ve needed to clear my head in between everything else. It is made out of cotton and quite lacy so should be nice for cool evenings. I’ll share a picture with you when it’s ready.

I am going… to start getting my revision notes together soon. My OU exam is about 8 weeks away so I need to start pulling together the themes of the course and preparing for the final assignment and the exam. EEEEK!

I am wondering… about my future. Things have changed a bit recently and I am being drawn more and more into church life. I have also been put on the preaching rota for next month which is a tiny bit daunting and a heck of a lot exciting. I wonder if the experience will show me that I am on the right path or if I need to change direction.

I am reading… “The Lady of Hay” by Barbara Erskine. I first read this book when I was at college back in about 1987 and just fancied reading something a bit familiar again. Feeling a bit mard I guess.

I am hoping… that the pain in my chest and the swelling on my stomach goes down soon. It’s getting really uncomfortable now and if it doesn’t go down of its own accord I will need medical help to shift it. Come one tummy you can do it!!

I am praying for… my daughter Emma who is away with the Navy at the moment. I spoke to her today which was lovely but she has been a bit ill whilst sailing the past few days and has only managed to eat properly for the first time today since Friday. I am also continuing to pray for my friend Rita who is about to take her third round of chemotherapy.

I am looking forward to… hitting the books again tomorrow. It’s always nice to start a new chapter and tomorrow I will be looking at the development of the germ theory.

I am learning… lots about the history of medicine! I am also learning a lot about the thing inside me that connects to those things outside of me in a spiritual way. And it is an exciting journey.

Around the house… I have had a house full of spring flowers this past week – daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and several potted mini-daffs that Emma brought for me for Mothering Sunday last week. The house has smelled divine.

I am pondering… what to preach about when it’s my turn next month. I don’t know what is expected of me yet so it could be on a reading of the day, or it could be some sort of personal testimony. Hmmm not sure but no doubt the solution will reveal itself shortly.

A favourite quote for today: “Whenever you feel sad just remember that somewhere in the world there is an idiot pulling a door that says PUSH”

One of my favourite things… is finishing assignments.

A few plans for the rest of the week: back to studying tomorrow, Lent group Wednesday night, band Friday. It’s a bit quiet this week hurrah!

A peek into my day…

Hyacinths and tulips on my fireplace
My favourite – daffodils on the mantlepiece


Come and join us at and join in!!

Wednesday Hodgepodge – 2nd April

Here are my answers to this week’s questions. Answer on your own blog, then add your link at the end of Joyce’s post (click badge below to go to the host site).

1. Since the questions posted on the first day of April it seemed only right to ask-when was the last time you did something foolish?  If you can’t answer that one, try this one-when was the last time someone fooled you?

I felt pretty foolish on Sunday morning whilst leading worship in my church. I am fairly new to leading and am still finding my feet but on Sunday – for some daft reason – I tried to be bolder when saying hello and welcome to everyone. I bounced out to the front of the congregation and began saying “hello everyone and welcome to our service this morning, isn’t it a lovely day….” and so on while everyone was still chatting their pre-service conversations, only to be drowned out by the congregation all shouting at me that they couldn’t hear me because – duh – I’d forgotten to pick up the microphone. It wasn’t really all that bad but as it came as I was trying to break the ice to begin the service I felt a tad foolish because we had to begin again. Oops!

Just on April Fool’s Day, of all the jests and hazes I read about yesterday my favourite was from the UK Cop Humour page on Facebook where they ran this story:

From today, any offenders who hand themselves in to Police, will not face conviction due to a new Government initiative to reduce crime levels.

“The Adults Potential Rehabilitation Initiative for Long-term Forfeiture Of Offences for Life Scheme is running for a very limited time trial and we encourage offenders to take advantage of it today,” a Home Office spokesman said. 

Love it!!

2. What’s the last biography or non-fiction book you’ve read? Was it any good?

Well, strictly speaking the last non-fiction book I read was the Bible but for the purposes of this question I am not going to count that because I read that quite a lot.

I do quite like reading poetry books – any compilations on a particular theme or by a particular poet, and one of the best I read recently was “If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking” by Emily Dickinson:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

 I love the way this poem speaks of hope and of purpose for life, and has helped me recently when I began to feel very down about things.

3. Garlic-friend or foe? What’s your favourite dish made with garlic?

I am a friend, most definitely! I think garlic can be added to most dishes (except on cornflakes perhaps…) and I love things like garlic mushrooms, cheesy garlic bread (especially the one made at the create your own counter at Asda), my three-bean soup which is made with (surprisingly) three different types of beans, chorizo sausage and added garlic. Delish!!

4. Several spring flower festivals happen in the US during the month of April. Of those listed which would you most like to see in person…The Skagit Tulip Festival in Skagit Washington, The Dogwood Arts Festival in Knoxville Tennessee, The North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington North Carolina, or Daffodil Festival Weekend on Nantucket Island Massachusetts?

Oooh I would love to visit the USA and visit all of those places anyway, but as my favourite flower is the daffodil, so I would opt for the Daffodil Festival Weekend in Massachusetts please. Please!

5. How do you choose which blogs to read?  What is something that will make you stop and read every time? Something that makes you say, ‘eh, think I’ll skip this and move on to the next’?

It depends – I have my favourites where I have got to know the bloggers themselves and so I always like to read what they are up to and their thoughts on things, but when choosing new ones to read I tend to go for the “uncluttered” blogs, where their message is easy to access and to understand. I don’t like reading blogs that are pale writing on a black background as they play havoc with my eyes so white on black is a definite no-no for me. I don’t like blogs that have lots of badges or “awards” in the side panels either. They are too distracting and it makes me think that the author is trying to big themselves up without having much to support it. Some do have the quality of content but not everyone and I just don’t like them. I do like to see recognisable meme badges though so I can surf from blog to blog on the same theme, for example the A-Z April meme.

6. April is National Mathematics Education Month so tell us, when did you last use maths?

Yesterday morning – I counted 40 boxes of loose change with my friend Paul to be paid into our church bank account. We have a coin counter, but it had a bit of a spasm and started counting coins when there weren’t any there so between us we had to tot up what had already been counted and work out where it had gone wrong. Headache….boohoo!!

7. In honour of the A-Z challenge which kicked off on April 1…choose one word beginning with the letter A to describe your yesterday.


8. Insert your own random thought here.

At the beginning of March I led a Sunday School session at our church and we learned about the parable of the sower. To help the children understand the idea of sowing seeds (and because it was an excuse to get dirty!) we planted peas with them and they all got to take them home to look after. It’s been a bit of a talking point since then and it has been great to hear the children talking about how their own pea plants are growing. It really seems to have struck a chord with them!

Here are three photos showing the progress of my own peas since then. I have had to re-pot them this week because they got too big. I can’t wait to see how the peas taste later in the summer!!

Apology For Asda Worker Who Was Slapped Across The Face With Large Fish

Apology For Asda Worker Who Was Slapped Across The Face With Large Fish –

It looks like an April Fool joke but apparently not! I can’t make my mind up whether to laugh at a harmless prank out despair at the lack of respect and decency we seem to have now.

Your thoughts please!

Watergrove Reservoir

I’ve been feeling a little out of sorts recently – nothing too serious, just a vague feeling of being a bit discombobulated – and when the opportunity presented itself today for a bit of fresh air I jumped at the chance.

Ethan was due to play with the Middleton Youth Band at a festival of music at Wardle Academy near Rochdale and when we dropped him off at lunchtime we decided that while we were in the area we would go and visit the Watergrove Reservoir near Wardle Village. We have been saying for ages that we should go and visit here as we’d heard different people telling us how lovely it was, so while we were in the area we decided to go and see it for ourselves.

The reservoir itself is in a pretty inaccessible place north of Rochdale. You can only get to it by one road (the last 500 yards or so totally cobbled and just a bit bumpy) or by hiking over the hills. We chose the easy route and went by car but next time we go we are thinking of doing a proper hike to go and see it. We weren’t properly dressed for this visit – me in thin trainers with barely any sole and a very thin hoodie, Kevin in just a jumper and his walking shoes – and the wind had a definite knife-edge to it. Boy oh boy did it cut! We didn’t stay long. Just long enough to climb up to the water’s edge and wander round a bit. We noticed that part of the retaining wall is made up of dressed stones that look like they are from a dismantled church or chapel. Next time we go I will definitely take more photos. Forgive me but it was that cold my fingers were going numb. I did manage to take one decent photo, a panoramic view of the water:

Watergrove Res
Watergrove Reservoir near Wardle Village, Rochdale

Hopefully next time we go the sun will be a bit stronger (and warmer!).

If you want to learn more about the reservoir there’s a great article here. It tells the story of the how and why the reservoir was built, and the cost to the local community (and village) when it was decided to locate it there. A very interesting read.

I did end up feeling a bit better for the walk in the fresh air in such a beautiful location. Thank God for nature and sunshine.



A random collection of thoughts, musings, rants, lists, descriptions and arguments about an eclectic mix of subjects


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