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Micha & Jayne

It has been quite some time since I blogged. The reason being that Jayne and I have been praying about the direction both for our own ministry and that of the Oratory.

We have been clearly guided by God to focus upon our responsibility to live out the ministry of prayer and contemplation. We believe that God has underlined the importance of our call to oversee this home of prayer. It is our home and interwoven with all the regular realities of life is this call to contemplation and prayer.

Jayne continues currently to work three days a week in her responsibilities serving adults with learning disabilities. Micha continues his pursuit of the contemplative life and works with those seeking spiritual direction and spiritual coaching. many of these individuals find themselves at a cross roads in their lives and once more want to discern all God has for them.

It has also become clear that God is inviting us to discover more about our calling to live by the faithfulness of God. This will prove a challenge, yet we believe that given the times within which we live, there is a danger that confidence in God’s provision, God’s faithfulness is waning. There is a need to recover a rhythm of prayer and rediscover a God who both hears and answers our prayers.

Consequently, much of our work is moving towards encouraging prayer and intercession. This is not simply laying down the challenge scripture presents. It is organising very practical retreats and workshops in how to pray and encounter God. The vision is to see a people of prayer rise up throughout the UK to see their intercessions answered in everyday life.

Our next newsletter will carry more details of this and how individuals might themselves join with us in this call to prayer.

If you have thoughts or want to make contact please email God is stirring our hearts, and we are excited at what lies ahead. We know the challenges will prove great and the ground will be contested. yet, we have determined to journey onto the net stage of our journey in search of God’s heart.

Pray for us and this vision, small as a mustard seed yet ready to flourish and see Gods Kingdom break in to our time space world.

Be encouraged and God bless.


As many know, I broadcast a daily devotion, Be Still & Know, Mondaty through Friday for Premier Radio. I recognise many of us find it a challenge to find a few minutes for God everyday, and this is designed to help us navigate into that Godspace regularly. I’ve included a recent devotion below as a sampler. These devotions are available in print form direct to your front door, or on your favourite mobile device. They are also now available on the app. Podbean as well.

“Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.”  Psalm 25:7

I vividly remember my rebellious teenage years. I tried to break every convention because I could. I know I caused my parents grief, yet I was proud of my unconventional and disrespectful behaviour. My meeting with God at 19 radically changed the direction of my life.

When I have flashbacks to specific incidents from my past, attitudes towards others, actions that make me cringe and feel deep sadness, it’s difficult to accept that such feelings reflect my current response while God has forgiven me and moved on (Hebrews 8:12). At the very heart of forgiveness is completeness; that is, my debts, my wrongs are cancelled completely.

Often the greatest impediment to my spiritual formation, and hence growth, is me.

I’ve just changed my car after 167,000 miles and 14 years of faithful service. I originally bought it on a loan deal. Once paid, I did not give that debt a second thought. When scrapped, the car bore all the signs of road weariness with many a scrape and dent, something my daughter calls “urban chic”. That’s a phrase I can live with. So it is with my life. It carries the evidence of my past and has its own form of “urban chic”. No matter how I dress things up, my life is completely dependent upon God and his unfailing love. Without it, I would implode.

Forgiving myself and letting God have my past misdemeanours, as well as those misdemeanours done to me, is a challenge for each one of us. Yet as long as we hold onto them, revisit them and seek to repent all over again for them, we fail to appreciate and enjoy God’s unfailing love.


Are there events and memories that you are continuing to hold on to long after they have been forgiven?


Lord, what grace that you look on me through the eyes of unfailing love because of Jesus.

Out with friends the other evening, I was reminded of the power of small things. We sat in the pub garden enjoying the summer weather and the ending of another working week. As we talked and laughed together we consumed alcohol in a moderate fashion. I was thirsty having walked to the pub up a long hill in bright sunshine.

Over the long evening I consumed a total of three Peroni lagers, the summer enticing me away from my preferred real ales. I thought little of the liquids I was consuming only later to discover that they added two pounds to my weight. Now why on earth was I measuring their weight effect? Simply because as Jayne has a chronic health condition, we have radically reworked our groceries to establish a diet that supports her. Certain foods, dairy, sugar, wheat, all processed foods and so forth have been removed. We eat well off a limited range of foods.

One delightful consequence is the loss of weight that has accompanied this. It is an unintended consequence of our pursuit of health and well-being. Consequently I have joined Jayne in a weigh in, which is a lot of fun when the fat is falling away. Alcohol, which Jayne has had to give up completely because of its high sugar content, ‘sugared water’ as our GP describes it, is no longer a part of our at home routine. Yet, I still have a beer when out as I did that Friday. But when I can actually see the impact alcohol has upon weight, it is evident that it offers little apart from a mild relaxant.

I am now in a quandary; to drink or not to drink? I haven’t finalised that decision, although I’m not sure where my inner indecisiveness arises from. However, I have discovered the power of small things to have a significant impact upon us. A principle that can so easily be applied to many other arenas of our lives to good effect. The power to change I imagine will be a lot more difficult to implement yet will offer great, tangible benefits.

It has been fun to see a young England football squad bring an often cynical nation together and offer a moment of hope. Whilst eventually their inexperience and tiredness was cruelly exposed by an effective and clinical Croatian team, their heads need only drop for a moment. After all this is the greatest football success since 1990, some twenty eight years ago.

I recently attended a gathering of individuals interested in encouraging those moving into the second half of their life to lift their heads a go again. Called ‘Half Time‘, it seeks to mobilise individuals and couples to consider how to finish life well. It offers practical support in managing a personal change of focus, a shift of gears, to devote time and energy to explore how to move from personal interest to Kingdom interest.

As many will know I have worked for a number of years as a life coach supporting people to close the gap between what might be called their everyday life and their spiritual opportunity. It is now inappropriate to think of life as a threefold drama; education, career and retirement. We have a life expectancy of eighty plus years. Our children can expect even longer, for life expectancy increases by two years every decade.

I trust it will be my privilege to offer practical encouragement and support to this initiative because if we are to run the race of our lives effectively we must make a personal and deliberate investment of time and resources to ensure we order our lives and work out God’s calling effectively.

God never finishes with us; we all too often finish with God far too early.

England will return home after one final play off and begin their preparations for a new competition. They will do so with a new found confidence that they can succeed, enjoy widespread national support and with what I imagine will be a renewed appetite to become the most significant English soccer team since 1966. Do you still have an appetite to go again in search of your Kingdom significance? If you do write and tell me about it.

England’s soccer captain Bobby Moore, carried shoulder high by his team mates holds aloft the FIFA World Cup in this July 30 1966 file photo. England defeated Germany 4-2 in the final of the 1966 tournament played at London’s Wembley Stadium. (AP Photo)

As we consider a world in which the post WWII consensus is collapsing through age and inability to engage with the fruit of globalisation, we will do well to consider how nature abhors a vacuum.

Many in the church, especially Protestatnt Reformed and Roman Catholic, have a tendency to lean in the direction of conservatism, yearning for the stability of the past ahead of embracing the challenge transition offers with its many uncertainties.

If ever there was a destabilisation of the political, social and economic order it was through the incarnation of Jesus and the words he spoke. Often summarised as speaking truth to power, we sadly shrink away from the most obvious consequences of living and speaking in such a way. For Jesus it meant his destruction by the establishment and so the price tag has been set.

Maybe, the failure even of the Confessing Church in Germany to live by the woirds of Jesus in the turbulent years following the election of Hitler, often concerned more with internal conflict and disagreement than the main game played out across the world at the cost of thousands of innocent victims. Read, reflect as I am myself and consider how it is you live, in your innermost thoughts as much as by your public declarations.

“The role of the Christian churches in Germany from 1933 to 1945 raises many troubling questions about the perceived lack of action on moral issues. Many people wonder if Nazi atrocities might have been reduced or prevented if the Churches had done more to protest what was going on. This essay will look at the role of the Confessing Church during the Nazi regime to see what role it played. By studying the events of this time period that involved the Confessing Church, it can be shown that the Confessing Church did resist the Nazi government efforts to subvert it and, by preserving the truth of Christianity, prevented the total apostasy of the German Evangelical Church….”.

Farewell to Shadowlands

(This essay was written for History 285.6, University of Saskatchewan, 8 April 1999)

The role of the Christian churches in Germany from 1933 to 1945 raises many troubling questions about the perceived lack of action on moral issues.  Many people wonder if Nazi atrocities might have been reduced or prevented if the Churches had done more to protest what was going on.  This essay will look at the role of the Confessing Church during the Nazi regime to see what role it played.  By studying the events of this time period that involved the Confessing Church, it can be shown that the Confessing Church did resist the Nazi government efforts to subvert it and, by preserving the truth of Christianity, prevented the total apostasy of the German Evangelical Church.

The history of the structure of the German Christian churches goes back to the sixteenth century.  After the Peace of Westphalia…

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cloud_unknowingWe had a wonderful retreat day  in pursuit of the Cloud of unknowing.

A journey of exploring those attachments that might unnecessarily tether us and leave us earthbound even as our Spirit within yearns to discover and explore more of the life of God. Attachments that are both positive, yet run  the danger of obscuring God, and also negative in that they deceive us and delay our movement deeper into God’s heart of grace and full acceptance.

We faced the questions that for so long had remained unexpressed, carried as a burden weighing us down, invisible to all but ourself and God. And then took time in silence to consider such attachments and found creative ways to respond to the degree we felt able to on the day, whilst carrying the insights away to continue our meditation in the days to come.

We each sensed a sobering sense of God’s immanence and, whilst we dared to face ourselves in the questions God presented, we equally experienced an increased sense of God’s acceptance and peace in that God accepted us questions and all.

As ever such a privilege to journey with others as we waited and watched before learning to walk with less of a limp.

Keep in touch, we are a community that offers hope and sustenance to one another in the Way.

St Cuthbert’s is first and foremost a prayer house. We pray the rhythm of morning and evening prayer. We meditate with Lectio Divina. We contemplate with breath prayer and centring prayer. Indeed we also train people in the ways of prayer, meditation and contemplation. This latter through day retreats, longer journey’s of personal reflection and teaching points.

We receive many requests for prayer by email, letter and over the phone. Our pledge to hold someone in prayer for five consecutive days after which we pray as and when they come to mind. Today Premier phoned as a reader of Voice of Hope wanted to chat about a situation. I phoned back and spoke with Pauline, whose daughter, Sarah, has an MRI scan on Wednesday this week as the neurologists think she has Multiple Sclerosis. Pauline wanted to chat because of my own journey accompanying Katey through her battle with MS.

What comfort might I bring? It is a frightening consideration, and as with Katey whose mother also had MS, but of the remitting/relapsing type and lived a long life, so Pauline’s mother had also had MS. Whilst I don’t think it is officially listed as genetic, it does appear to run in families.Pray-Together

Listening to Pauline, her fears, her pain, her despair all stirred again within me. I empathised with her situation, more difficult as she suffered from fibromyalgia, constant pain throughout the body as well as severe fatigue. I sought to encourage and support her, whilst affirming as good her very human reactions. God knows us as God made us. We can never disappoint God – he knows us through and through. I also explained the journey ahead remains as yet unknown, so it is best not to imagine the future, especially ahead of any final diagnosis. We are to travel by faith, even as the very reality of our pain and despair ground us and suck all hope from our heart.

This is a journey we must make as community. Sadly too few churches it appears are capable of walking at the pace of their slowest, so keen are they to run ahead toward imagined future possibilities. God invites us to live well with what we have together, not to constantly be scanning the horizon for what lies ahead. Pauline, like so many in her situation, has a shrinking fellowship circle, unable to make church meetings that often and therefore increasingly isolated.

So in a spare moment pause and pray for Pauline and Sarah, together with Sarah’s husband Jeff. Also consider how many of the wounded are in your fellowship circle or have you, as I so often have, left them in your wake as you pursue God in the future at the expense of the Christ in your present?


Royal Foundation St Katherine's. Founded by Qieen Matilda 1147

Royal Foundation St Katherine’s. Founded by Queen Matilda 1147

Yesterday I led through our London Retreat at the beautiful and peaceful Royal Foundation of St Katherine’s (RFSK). A mixed and diverse group saddled up their camels and journeyed with the Magi to Bethlehem in search of a revelation of Christ.

Having taken time to still and centre ourselves through a prayer exercise, our journey was divided into three parts. Initially we wrestled with the Magi as they considered their inner sense of call to pursue a star. Not any star but an unknown star that they interpreted as a portent of God’s presence and invitation. The wrestling was over the issues of attachment that so often thwart our inner desire to pursue Jesus. A price to pay when choosing to step away and letting go in the hope that just maybe their, and our, deepest hopes of a King above all Kings might exist and now be manifest in the earth.

We took time alone to consider what the nature of such attachments might be for the Magi and then risked all by inviting God to reveal to us those things we are attached to that only root us in a space that God is moving on from and inviting us to follow him. To take hold of more of God, we always have to let go of more of ourself, our preferences, all those aspects that give the greatest apparent security to our life.

Saddled and on the move we entered the desert. If the Magi journeyed from Babylon, with the average daily distance a camel map_magimakes of 25 miles, it would have taken them 20 days. However, an apocryphal Syriac text suggests that the Magi might have come from the Land of Shir in what is today N.E. Iran, a far greater distance. Desert (the word literally means abandonment) was a place of terror as well as a place of blessing. It was into the accursed wilderness the Scapegoat was despatched, yet it was within the desert that Israel discovered the provision of God in their wanderings. Desert is a place of discomfort and privation; a place where we are face up to who we really are; a space that is empty and expansive, where we are fully exposed, nowhere to hide, and where we need to find God. In that desert our resolve for God is fully tested. The desert always lies between the intention to discover God and the reality of a fresh revelation. We took a long time as individuals to sit within the desert and explore our greatest fear whilst considering how far we were willing to journey into the desert

Finally we emerged from that desert and with what reservations? This was a singularly challenging hour where we each sought deeper encounter with the Lord. We noted the desert is truly the Way of God.

In conclusion to our day, and recognising we did not journey alone but as a community, we sat together in small groups and explored the worship of the new born Christ by the Magi through Lectio Divina. We were reminded that scripture tells us that the Magi returned by a different path, and we left to explore the new path God had opened for us.

Slides and notes (PDF) are available from this retreat if you email the Oratory. The next retreat is on February 24 in Woking at St. Columba’s House, a short walk from the railway station and parking is available. On that retreat during Lent, we shall walk with Jesus in the wilderness and confront those things that tempt us most exploring God’s way of enabling us to deal with temptation and our darkest fears.


Collecting the laundry from the washing machine, as I folded and put away the clothes I noticed a hole in recently purchased pyjamas. My immediate reaction was disappointment with these now torn pyjamas. I had chosen them and liked both the soft cotton, always primarily a kinaesthetic person, as well as the colour and pattern. I had also wondered at the time of purchase about spending money on actual pyjamas when for so long I’d just used old T Shirts and jogging bottoms. However, I had found these were too hot to sleep in.

The pyjamas worked a treat. Cool and comfortable, I enjoyed wearing them. However, I was surprised at my emotional response which lay somewhere between crestfallen and frustrated, on

Holy hole

Holy hole

discovering this hole. After all they remained perfectly fit for purpose. It reminded me again of how easily we become possessive of ridiculous things and also how we find it difficult to move away from finding some level of identity in what we wear. I know how I feel comfortable, yet also carry some internal imaging software that links my self esteem to how I perceive I look.

Before we moved last year, we recognised there was to be a lot of downsizing. The biggest challenge to me, one that preceded the decision to move by quite some years, was God’s request that I dispense with my library of near on 3000 books. Again the challenge came at the level of identity and security. I had an eclectic taste, yet felt I might address any subject since I had a richly resourced library to run to. It was about my security and my intellectual pride. I argued long and hard with God and it took about ten years to reduce that library to the 200 books that have travelled with me, all related to my work in Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Prayer. What’s more God reminded me of the grace I had so willingly accepted, a grace that was freely given, and so I was directed to give all these books away through charity shops.

One of my biggest challenges is learning to travel light on the earth with God. It has been a struggle to discover my identity is completely and solely realised in God. The projections I like to bring to the world are no more than extensions of a bruised ego, by which I seek acceptance through appearance and performance. Learning that I am always no more or less than a sinner loved by God, to quote the Ancients, is tough when in my head I may aspire to be so many other identities.

When visiting Sr Margaret, one of my Franciscan teacher’s in Spiritual Direction at the Franciscan International Study Centre, and recounting this story, she asked, ‘And did you find greater freedom once you’d managed to give your books away?’ I’d not considered that question, yet she was right. I was no longer bound by my intellectualism, a need to know stuff for its own sake, and relieved not to have walls of bookshelves staring down on me, many of which I had never read. There was also a far greater lightness in my spirit as I reduced my investment in things and the material hold the world exercised over me eased another notch. In fact I recognise I sit so much more lightly to things and finance than at any earlier stage in my life, and this is indeed a level of freedom and with it peacefulness that I’d craved and now have found in far greater measure.

So I was surprised at the level of my emotional response to my torn pyjamas. My first instinct to replace them was substituted by a commitment to use them as a meditative reminder of the truth that life is full when lived in the presence of the Divine, and not enhanced in any way by the material world of consumer goods that so easily entraps us. Also that I am myself holed and in need of grace to navigate each day I live in relationship with myself, whilst being generous in my acceptance of others.

Epiphany is the great reveal, that moment when Jesus is revealed as the light to the nations. Magi arrive at his manger and discover the God of Gods for whom they had been searching.

Dom Robert Hale

Dom Robert Hale

I love the Chronicle of Robert Hale, a Camaldolese monk. I am attracted to this contemplative expression of the Benedictine way even though I am by instinct a Franciscan. I have enjoyed his reflection this Epiphany. He speaks how the Magi had consistently to look up to the light in order to discover Jesus. He was not in the obvious place where one might seek a king, in this case Jerusalem. This was a city with a long tradition of honouring God yet latterly was compromised through Herod the Great, the Roman appointee as King of the Jews. Human appointments are never an appropriate replacement for a God appointee. The Magi, having consulted Herod, an indication of their station in life since they enjoyed access to so powerful a leader, were guided to Bethlehem, literally ‘House of Bread’. Here they discovered the true Bread of Life, source of perpetual nourishment.

Throughout their search they had to keep their eyes gazing heavenward, whilst negotiating the challenges of walking across a wilderness, a journey that probably took a minimum of twenty days given a camel’s pace of twenty five miles a day.

I am reminded that seeking Jesus requires that we keep our eyes focussed upon the light that is leading us, that we avoid distractions that promise much (such as Herod starsand his court) whilst expecting the discomfort arising from embarking on any journey where we’re required to leave the known and the comfortable in search of what we as yet do not know. Robert’s encouragement is for us all as he writes, “ we need to muster up our Abrahamic faith and set out, not for the fortress cities of our own lives and time, but for our own Bethlehem, to be nourished by the Living Bread“.

So this is my reflection today, and I trust yours too, as we together set out into a fresh year. Opportunities and temptations there will be many yet I want to ensure I keep looking to the Light and discovering fresh nourishment from the Living Bread, revealed anew this Epiphany.

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