The Trinity Question(s)

As I write my piece this time I find myself stuck between Pentecost and Holy Trinity Sunday and so I thought I would share with a little play that I wrote for church tomorrow. I hope that you like it and that it makes some sort of sense…I’m hoping my congregations can make some sort of sense of it as well. And if you don’t understand the concept of the Holy Trinity then don’t worry…join the club and if any one tells you that they do understand it all, completely, then good luck to them, for I’m sure that I don’t!

Paul M Holdsworth

The Trinity Question(s) – A short, two handed play…

Passer-by: Hello

Minister: Hello 

Passer-by: Are you a vicar? 

Minister: Well, yes sort of. I am a minster, really, but some folk call me father and the members of the youth club call me pasta, for some reason. 

Passer-by: As in the spaghetti? 

Minister: Yes, but don’t ask. It should be pastor, of course, but they seem to prefer pasta…can’t think why… 

Passer-by: Er…Ok. So, pasta, can I ask you a question? 

Minister: Yes, of course. Fire away! 

Passer-by: Can you tell me what the Trinity is, please? 

Minister: Ah, yes, that old theological conundrum, the image of the divine that has challenged and even flummoxed theologians for centuries. That philosophical construct that has both tormented and inspired Christians for the best part of two millennia…the Trinity… 

Passer-by: Yes, the trinity. Can you tell me what it is, and what it means to Christians? 

Minister: Yes, I believe I can… 

Passer-by: Do you think that you could so that for me…some time today would be lovely… 

Minister: Ah, yes, sorry. Well the Trinity was first mentioned by the Ante-Nicene Fathers  in the early 2nd century and supported by Justin Martyr and Theophilus of Antioch later in the same century. It is based on the Trinitarian Christian doctrine of  the Trinity, from the Latin triad, from trinus or threefold, and defines God as three con-substantial persons or hypostases: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit —as “one God in three Divine Persons”. The three persons are distinct, yet are one “substance, essence or nature”. In this context, a “nature” is what one is, while a “person” is who is… 

Passer-by: Er, can you run that by me again, this time in English? 

Minister: Yes, sorry, it is a bit complicated. Let’s try it this way. We have one God, in three parts: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

Passer-by: Ah, so it’s like the Hindus: you worship several Gods. 

Minister: No, not at all. We are monotheistic – we worship one God. 

Passer-by: Just like the Muslims then. 

Minister: No. One God, just in three parts. Firstly God the Father, the Creator. 

Passer-by: Just like those who follow the Jewish faith: Abba Father. 

Minister: Well, sort of. But there is more to it than that. We also have the Son, that great gift to us all, the personification of love, who taught us to be like him and to love everyone around us. 

Passer-by: Sounds like one of the main ideas behind Buddhism to me. 

Minister: That may well be, but Jesus is the Son of God, both human and devine, and is also described in many other ways, such as the light of the world, the word, the great I am, the vine, Alpha and Omega etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… 

Passer-by: I see…anything else? 

Minister: Well then there’s the Holy Spirit, with the father at the point of Creation in Genesis and the helper of Jesus himself. Given to the disciples at Pentecost, and present in each of us and throughout the world even now. 

Passer-by: So, you are spiritualists then? 

Minister: No, that is a philosophical system of communicating with the dead, especially through mediums. 

Passer-by: You don’t do that then? 

Minister: No. We communicate with God, through Jesus, the intercessor, with the help of the Holy Spirit. 

Passer-by: I see. 

Minister: Are you sure? 

Passer-by: I think so…but may be you could hit me with it one more time… 

Minister: OK. The Holy Trinity. One God, indivisible, but able to operate in the three parts, and yet existing as one divine presence, within in each of us and throughout the whole of creation. 

Passer-by: I see. It sort of makes sense and I think that I understand the Trinity now. 

Minister: That’s wonderful…do you think you could explain it to me, please??

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How to be a leader?

I am not sure why but I find my thoughts turning once again to the subject of authority and the people who have it, especially those who wield it as if they have some sort of special power over us. May it is because I am writing this in the middle of Passion Week and I am reminded of all those in authority, who mistakenly felt as though they had power over Jesus, were constantly trying to find ways to trick him, trap him and terminate him. The Scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Chief Priest, all the way up to Annas and Caiaphas themselves were out to discover reasons to get rid of Jesus and they felt that they could do this because they had the authority to do this. As I see it, whenever I read the Passion Week Readings, Jesus was dealing with the very worst kind of people to have authority, and he pretty much states this at several points during the week, either in parables or directly to their faces (alas for you Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!!)

 

We can all see from what the authorities at the time of Jesus said and did that they were not really fit for purpose and this lead to what I like to call the Three ‘C’s of such authority, namely Control, Controversy and Conflict. They wanted to be in control and use (and abuse) all the power at their disposal, and this is sometimes done by using all sorts of devious and deceitful methods. What follows inevitably then is controversy as truths are hidden and dangerous ideas and ideologies are forced upon the people and finally, and perhaps inevitably, this leads to conflict. In the C1st Holy Land we can see all these three ‘C’s play out in the following progression. The authorities try to control the people, but their authority in only in place because of the Roman Empire. The Jewish leaders try to impose their own human ideas, which leads to controversy, but stirs the people up against Jesus. Jesus is crucified and after his resurrection and ascension, the conflict that he predicted happens as the religious authorities help to inspire the Jews to rise against the Romans, only to be completely annihilated and have their precious temple destroyed, just as Jesus said it would be.

 

A disaster for the people, but also for the authorities as well, as they lead the people into that mess in the first place. By contrast there are three other ‘C’s that would help those in authority to be good at what they do and be really helpful and useful to the people they are supposed to be leading, namely Credibility, Competence and Consistency. When those in authority over us have credibility, when they are properly qualified and experienced to do what we need them to do, then have a good basis to exercise t heir authority. If they carry out their tasks displaying a reasonable amount of competence, using their intelligence and integrity, then there is a chance that their authority will be just, fair and effective. And if they are consistent in what they do, not always changing their minds, not making things up as they go along and always treat people equally, than people will respect them, work with them and even follow them.

And this goes for people in authority in all walks of life, from politics and the way the country is run to churches and the way denominations are run. But people can change – just take Dylan Hartley, the current England Rugby Union captain. In the past he was a joke, always getting himself into bother and not always playing for the team. I despaired when I heard that he was going to be England captain, for all I could see was Control, Controversy and Conflict. However, clearly, I was wrong – England are now Grand Slam Champions for the first time in thirteen years, and this in no small part due to the fact that he pursued the route of Credibility, Competence and Consistency instead: better for him, better for the team as a whole…

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To write or not to write…

This month I was sourly tempted not to bother writing anything for the Mouthpiece, because I have been wondering for a long time whether it was actually worth carrying on. I have been doing this for quite a few years now and at the start it seemed a good idea, to create the  Mouthpiece. The idea was not mine, I hasten to add, but I was recruited into it at an early stage and initially people took turns to write pieces. These days, however, I am the only one left writing for the Mouthpiece and although I enjoy it, it seems a little odd, me just sat here, communicating through the Mouthpiece to the outside world by myself, when it was originally designed to be a conduit for Moravians of all ages, persuasions, shapes and sizes, not just for me. So, what to do, that is the question – to carry on or not to carry on.

 

Carry on, I think, for the moment, at least, despite the temptation to hang up my keyboard and mouse and pack it all in. After all this the time of year when temptation becomes very important to Christians, as we remember what Jesus went through during the time he spent in the Wilderness preparing for the his life as an itinerate preacher, healer and teacher. Do we give something up, or do we give of ourselves and our time, or even a combination of both. Lent came upon me all too soon this year to get my act together, concerning whether I give something up or give more of myself. After a week of Lent I realised that I had not been eating biscuits since before Ash Wednesday and so I decided that this would have to do – no biscuits before Easter.

 

Having said that I have been eating hot cross buns for weeks now, and so I would imagine that this would negate my heroic self denial on the biscuit front! And to add to all this I am supposed to be leading an assembly at Weston All Saints Primary School (only the second School Assembly I have ever taken – my last was at WASPS last December and involved making Christmas Pudding with some of the young people present, for some strange reason!) I still have a few days to go, and I have a few ideas, which include footballs, two glasses of water and a single straw, but it’s not finished yet or set in stone. I’m sure that it will all come together in the end. I’ll just make sure I try to engage the young people as much as possible and share with them what I understand about Lent and what Jesus was doing in the Wilderness all those years ago.

 

And as for the rest of Lent 2016, I know that it’s not all about biscuits and that I should be preparing myself for Easter, just as I am preparing for the WASPS Assembly. Making myself ready for Easter and the stunning revelations that will be revealed to us all, once again through our passion week readings and the Easter morning services all around the world. So, whatever you have given up or whatever you are doing extra for others, hang on in there…it’s only forty days!

 

PS: By the way, if you want to write something for the Mouthpiece then pleaswe let me know – after all, variety is the spice of life.

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The Sunken Ship and The Lifeboats.

 

I used to think that the Moravian Church in the British Province was like a ship that had a few challenges that were causing her to sink, slowly but surely towards oblivion. In fact this is one of the reasons why I offered myself for the Moravian ministry and one of the reason I cited when I was asked why I was applying in the first place. The call from God, such as it was in my case, was, I felt, a call to put my not inconsiderable bulk into whatever hole there existed in the side of the ship of the Moravian Church in order to do my bit to prevent her sinking out of existence forever. I also said those very words in my interview and, despite how strange the words and the sentiment may have sounded, I was accepted for training and here I am, serving the Lord as a Moravian Minister, still trying to stop the ship sinking completely.

However, as I look around at the beginning of 2016, I feel that it may all be in vane and that we are too late to save the ship. To me the ship may already have already sunk, or at least in its death throws, with the main vessel, what is left of it, plunging headlong into the icy depths, like the Titanic, after her date with destiny in the North Atlantic all those years ago. The bridge is already effectively gone and the officers of the watch no longer able to guide the ship, or even save it at all, overwhelmed by the tasks at hand. And what remains above the surface seemingly doomed to be consigned to past, for it may be even too late to rearrange the deck chairs at this point, if you know what I mean. Then what? We leave behind only a footnote, or perhaps a paragraph or two in a future history book of the world wide Unity of the Moravian Church. What once was, gone forever, and perhaps remembered only by the other provinces who had direct contact with us over the centuries

Not a very pleasant thought is it, especially when we are all supposed to be so optimistic at the beginning of another New Year? All this talk of doom, gloom and the stricken ship that is, perhaps, the Unitas Fratrum in the British Isles. And yet, despite everything that I have written so far in this piece, I firmly believe that there is hope for us all. The main vessel may be in big trouble, but we are still here and for me, it is now a case of lifeboats. We may not be able to save the ship, and the ship certainly may not be able to save us, but we are all still afloat in our lifeboats and very much alive, wherever we find ourselves this province. To me, each congregation is a lifeboat, with our brothers and sisters being not just surviving passengers, but active members of the crew of each lifeboat, working as best we can to keep the lifeboat on the surface and heading in the right direction.

And these lifeboats and their crews, in other words the remaining churches and their congregations, are not just desperate people clinging to tiny little wooden life rafts, waiting to be wrecked by the next wave or storm. No, they are sturdy buildings, for the most part, that have competent and committed people within their walls, ready to keep working, worshipping and witnessing to the world around them. We are still out there, a little battered, may be, bruised, yes and lacking in help from the main ship, perhaps, but still there, none the less. And the thing about our lifeboats, ones that are watertight and well run, is that they can still pick up other survivors as well. There are folk out there who are lost and in need of saving, and we can still be there for them. We can work with other lifeboats too, even of other denomination, and not only survive, but flourish and carry many more folk with us on our journey.

For me, I can no longer afford to worry about leadership or the ship as a whole, for it bothers me so much. Instead I believe in our sense of democracy, especially at congregation (or lifeboat level), and we can have conversations, listen to each other and decided together what to do next. And, most reassuringly of all, we still have our overall leader, the head of the Church, the head of denomination, the Lamb who conquered, who we serve and follow. With Jesus at the helm of our lifeboats we know we are in safe hands, just as the disciples were in their boat on Lake Galilee two millennia ago. Jesus saved them from the storm and lead them safely on, and he will certainly do that for us today, even if we might be feeling a little lost and lonely in our little lifeboats, wondering what on earth we are going to do next…He knows and all we have to do is ask, listen to the answer and go on, in faith, wherever He leads us…

Rev. Paul M Holdsworth

 

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The Challenge of Christmas

I am writing my notes for December, this time having just returned from one of my walks around the countryside beyond the A4174 and the M4 near to our home in Emerson’s Green. As I dandered back, passed the Willy Wicket Pub, I saw girl coming home from the local primary school with her mum and her grandma and I noticed that she had in her hand a Christingle. Now, bearing in mind the fact that we are still only half way through November and that it was one of those Anglican ones that we Moravians don’t like to talk about, I was still strangely delighted to see the orange with its tell tale accoutrements in her hand. I asked her granddad if they had been to a Christingle Service and his answer was, rather disappointingly, I’ve no idea mate! They seemed in a hurry to get home so I decided that it was not the right time to go into my John De Watterville and the birth of Christingles in Germany in the C18th speech, however it did remind me that time is pressing on and we will soon be reaching for the cocktail sticks again…

And so, we are here again, at the beginning of advent, with the festive season bearing down upon us and the end of yet another year just around the corner. It is simply unbelievable to me how quickly time flies by and now we find ourselves getting ready to celebrate Christmas once again, with all the usual palaver that goes with it. My diary for December is filling up with various services and activities hither and thither and I am hoping that Patsy and I are going to be able to remember where we are supposed to be and when we are supposed to be there – I guess that is what diaries are for, at the end of the day! And, on top of that, I have no idea what presents I am going to ask Santa to deliver to folk, although Patsy is so efficient that she probably has all that sorted out for us with Santa already. I still have to work out what Patsy would like: I suppose that I have some time left to attend to that, although that time will run out far too quickly for my liking!

Ever since Patsy and I left Bradford seventeen years ago Christmas has always been a challenging time for us, placed as we have been relatively far from the place we came from and our families, and yet set in the midst of our adoptive congregational families wherever we living at the time, if you know what I mean. I am not sure whether is fair or even correct to say that I am looking forward to Christmas and yet, before you all cry Bah Humbug!! at me, I can assure you that I will be joining in with as much gusto as the next person, belting out the tenor lines to all the Christmas Carols I know, very probably at a completely inappropriate volume as ever! And like everything else, Christmas is all about the preparation and taking the appropriate time to get everything ready for the big day. But it is also about getting ourselves ready for the big day as well.

It’s all very well having everything we need for Christmas Day, in order to avoid having to trail round looking for a petrol station that is open on that day so that we can purchase that one incredibly important thing that we’ve forgotten. However, we also need to be ready, in our hearts and in our minds, for the arrival of God’s most precious gift to us. When he gave us his Son God knew that the world might not be ready for him, but we must try our best to allow Christ to take his rightful place at the centre of our preparations and our celebrations. So, brothers and sisters, allow me to wish you a Joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year and may the Lord bless you and yours in all that you do, in his dear name…Amen

Paul M Holdsworth

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Authority

Recently I have found myself listening to Radio Four on a regular basis, especially during my nocturnal excursions along the M4 or along the A4174 around the outskirts of Bristol. I gave up on Radio One a long time ago, although Patsy is still persevering with it and trying to understand what all this modern nonsense is all about! I switched to radio Two a long time ago and now head out for Radio Four every now and then. I skipped over Radio Three – a little high brow for me, especially when there’s Classic FM to give me my Mozart fix from time to time! Now, this Radio Four lark can be very informative indeed, as I am sure you already know. There are so many interesting and entertaining things on it: who could have believed it? I can’t get my head around the Archers, unfortunately, but many other things are utterly fascinating.

 

The other night I was listening to Sir Melvin Bragg talking with some academics about Shakespeare and the plays that he wrote during the reign of James the First of England (James the sixth of Scotland). These include King Lear and Macbeth (the Scottish Play), which both have elements of countries and kingdoms being torn apart and the struggle for power within these nations. These days there is a lot of talk as to whether England and Scotland should be united and it was the same back at the beginning of the C17th, although the sharing of old James did not bring the nations together. This was also the time of the famous Gunpowder Plot, lead by people who were worried about the future of the Catholic Church in England, or more precisely the lack of it. For their faith the plotters were prepared to try to blow up the new king, parliament and all the trappings of C17th government.

 

Not the suicide bombers that we think of today, perhaps, but still people who were willing to shed the blood of others for their beliefs. It seems that Shakespeare was sailing close to the wind when he wrote his later tragedies, especially when you think that King James was still trying to establish himself after the death of Elisabeth I. During her reign Shakespeare wrote plays such as Richard III to help to reduce support for the Yorkists and to secure Elizabeth’s throne. It seems he did not offer the same support to James and Melvin Bragg’s academic friends were keen to point this out and to wonder how he got away with it. It does seem that Shakespeare was a little fickle and went with the authorities in his earlier days, but as Elizabeth grew older and weaker, and as the new King James arrived, he changed his stance and the way he wrote his plays for the rest of his life.

 

The political machinations of the C21st and C17th England and Scotland are nothing compared to what was going on in C1st Jerusalem and yet Jesus stuck to his task, whoever stood against him and whatever was going to happen to him. He didn’t waver and his message was the same, even though he didn’t get away with it when the authorities finally caught up with him. On Bonfire Night we will celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot and the survival of democracy. However, when everything is put into context, compared to awesome majesty and authority of the Lord God, what we do as human beings amounts to very little indeed. So yes, let’s remember the survival of democracy with our fireworks, but then really celebrate the one in whom all true authorities lie…our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul M Holdsworth

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Friendship

The other day I received a message from an old friend of mine on facebook and he reached out to me as a fellow ‘Muggletonian’ from the past. It was good to hear from him, especially as it has been about twenty five years since I last saw him. He was a founder member of the ‘Muggletonians’, which was a group established by my colleagues at Northern Theological College as a means of keeping us together after we left Luther King House in Manchester. And, for the record, the Muggletonian name comes from an C19th theologian who decided that God lived in the clouds and the best place to worship Him was in local pubs – makes complete sense to me! Now, there are lot of things that I really don’t like about this facebook malarkey, especially the wonderful new phenomenon of being de-friended, but there are some good things as well.

 

The idea of contacting or being contacted by old friends through the wonder of t’internet is a wonderful and has helped me to rekindle many an old friendship from the dim and distant past., which has been good for me, and hopefully them. As ministers Patsy and I have found that it can be difficult keeping friends, especially when you get moved from one end of the country and then back again every few years. However, friends are still very important to us and we do all we can to keep them, if we can, even if they are over the other side of the Irish Sea! And yet, despite our best efforts, we have lost friends along the way, as we all do – it’s a tragic inevitability in all our lives, I suppose. Some friends drift away as the years go by, either due to time or geography and sometimes friends simply loose contact. And occasionally things go wrong or people change and it becomes almost impossible to keep an old friendship alive, whatever you try to keep things going.

 

Such a loss can be upsetting and even hurtful, particularly if the friends were previously close, reliable and well trusted. A gap is created in our lives, especially if there is a moment when you know that there is no turning back and the friendship is broken forever more. I am sad to say that I know what this feels like, even very recently and it is still hard to come to terms with. But no one knows what this feels like better than Jesus himself, for it was, of course, one of his closest, most trusted friends, who denied him three times and another one who ultimately gave him up to his enemies and betrayed him with a kiss. Jesus had a lot of friends amongst his followers, and we know that when one of his best friends, Lazarus, died, Jesus was very upset, moved enough to bring him back to life. And yet, with regard to his disciples, Jesus chose them all personally, and they were with him for most of the rest of his life on earth.

 

I can only imagine what Jesus felt like to have one so close, so trusted, let him down in such an awful and ultimately lethal way. And what makes things worse is that Jesus know it was going to happen: he knew that Peter was going to deny him and moreover he knew that Judas was going to betray him. We all know what it is like to lose friends, under various circumstances and all we can do is to try to follow the example of Jesus and be the best friends to others that we can be – honest, loyal and true to the very end.

Rev. Paul M Holdsworth

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You got a friend in me…

 

A couple of weeks ago I had the consummate pleasure of travelling up north to join my father and his friends on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in West Yorkshire for a late birthday party for him. We were on board a train pulled by a lovely steam engine, namely a War Department (WD) Austerity 2-8-0 tender engine, number 90733 and we were in two restored 1930s carriages, one of which was the wonderful Jubilee Bar Carriage. It was a fabulous day out and a chance for me to meet up with some of my old friends from Yorkshire and three of my pals from Belfast, who flew over just for the event. It was great to be with friends in such circumstances, with the steam flowing from the engine and the ale flowing from the taps! It was also interesting to introduce different groups of friends together, from either side of the Irish Sea.

All this made me think about friends and friendship and how they are very important to each and every one of us. Some friends can be with us and there for us for all of our lives, whereas other friendships are a little more transient: here today and gone tomorrow. As a minister I sometimes find it difficult to create and sustain friendships, especially when the call system moves some of us all over the province. It is not necessarily a good idea to make within congregations, as this can lead to accusations being levelled against ministers about favouritism, although I can say that congregations have always been very friendly towards Patsy and myself throughout our ministry. This means that new friends can be hard to come by, and the friends that we have are absolutely vital and extremely important to us. However, sometimes friends can drift away or even let us down and hurt us – this is very hard to take.

Jesus knew all about this. In John 15:15 he told his disciples that they were his friends, which, as you can imagine, was a very big deal indeed – imagine being friends with the Son of God! And yet Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples, one of his closest friends and that must have hurt him deeply, perhaps even worse than the trials and tribulations that he would face because of that betrayal. But Jesus has to deal with that betrayal by a friend, as we sometimes have to deal with times when friends let us down, turn away from us or even betray us. One thing that we can rely on though is the friendship of Jesus, for he is the friend not only of little children but of all of us…What a friend we have in Jesus! And his friendship comes with no strings attached, he will always love us and, whatever happens, he will never ever let us down.

To quote another hymn, Can we find a friend so faithful?…no, of course we couldn’t, how could we? However, the very the least we can do is to try at least to be faithful friends to those around us. We might not be able to live up to Jesus’ standards, as for as friendship goes, and our friends might not be able to either, but we can certainly try to be the very best friends that we can be, whatever happens, under whatever circumstances…always faithful, honest and true, to the very end, just as Jesus was, is and always will be.

Paul M Holdsworth

 

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Taking Care of the Little Things…

A very good friend of mine, and brother in the Moravian Church, Mark Kernohan, once told me that there are various types of Moravians in the world, and in our province. His categories were, and I paraphrase here, Congregation Moravians, District Moravians, Provincial Moravians and Unity Moravians, Mark explained to me that Congregation Moravians are concerned only with their particular congregation and so not see much further than the doors of their church in terms of the Unity as a whole. He went on to say that District Moravians see a little further, to neighbouring Moravian congregations in their particular area, with bonds through family ties and or various district events. Next the Provincial Moravians have a broader view, namely of the whole province, because of synods and provincial committees or events that they attend. And finally, the Unity Moravians take and get involved with all of the Unity, by reading the Messenger and other Moravian publications, by supporting Moravians causes or even by what is known as ‘Moravian Tourism’ and actually getting out there amongst other Unity Moravians in their home countries.

Now, going by this simple scale, I realised that i have thought of myself as a Unity Moravian for decades, ever since I was fortunate enough to go to Moravial in 1987 in Prague (my favourite city in the whole wide world) back in Communist era. There, as a young, just before I went to Leicester to study law I met Moravians from all over Europe and different parts of the world. This included Br. Paul Peucker, a Dutch translator who would be my best man when I married Patsy nine years later, and the man that we are staying with when we go to Bethlehem Pennsylvania in July. This was the beginning of a period of time when I was a confirmed Unity Moravian, but all this changed a couple of year ago and I had to think again. You see I realised that I was taking on far too much for this Bear of Little Brain to cope with, for I started to be concerned about and even worry about everything! Every part of the Moravian Church , it my own congregation in Lower Wyke, the Yorkshire District, the British Province and the whole Unity, and every little thing that seemed to be going wrong anywhere, all at the same time!

This made me come to the conclusion that I simply could not deal with all this and that I had to concentrate and distil my concern quite radically for my own good. So last year I decided to be a Congregation Moravian, only focusing on the congregations I am actually serving. This was made easier for the PYCC decided to dispense with my services at Summer Camp and the PEC decided to take me away from the Irish District, thus forcing me to start again. And this I am currently trying to do, but with the emphasis being on serving Coronation Avenue, Swindon and Weston.  Don’t get me wrong, I had served Cliftonville and University Road as well as I could before, but always with the weight of the worry of the Unity on my shoulders as well. No this will be no longer the case…selfish, you may think, but I think differently. Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, in other words, if people and congregations are looked after, loved and nurtured, then districts will prosper, as will provinces and, ultimately, so will the Unity.

After all, it is the congregations that provide the people, who in turn provide the work, the witness and he worship and from this flow all kinds of possibilities for districts, provinces and the unity as whole. So, the upshot is, I am now a Congregation Moravian, for better or for worse…that’s my idea, and I am sticking to it, just so long as it fits in with God’s plan for me, the congregations, the district, the province and the Unity. If not, I might have to give it another few decades of prayerful thought….

Br. Paul M Holdsworth

 

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Not Good Bye but Good Luck!!

When Tom Baker came to the end of his time as the Fourth Doctor his last words to camera were, it’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for. And this is how I feel at the moment. My time in Northern Ireland, and Patsy’s as well, of course, has come to an end and we must away to pastures new and new congregations over the sea. Some folk have said that we are going home, but this is not true, for Belfast is our home and Bristol is a long way from where we come from (Bradford is 216 miles away from Bristol). We are, in fact, leaving home and our task now is to get over this as soon as possible and to make a new home over in Bristol and the beautiful west of England. As a Leicester Tigers fan I am going to find it hard living so close to Bath and their Recreation Ground, especially as two of my new three congregations are in that fine city, but I will simply have to cope with that and may be become a temporary Gloucester fan to make up for it! At least they have David Humphreys coaching them!

I am already certain that the good folk of Bristol and beyond are marvellous and I look forward to meeting them and may be even taking to the stage with some of them (Bristol Gilbert & Sullivan Society have already invited me to join in with Pirates of Penzance in Autumn!) And yet the main problem is that we are leaving Belfast behind, our beloved Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland and, for that matter, the whole of this island of Ireland. We absolutely love this place, and have done for many years, even before we settled here. I have said many times that the folk here are as daft as a brush, and perhaps that is why I have felt so much at home here and why I have come to love the people of this wonderful place. Yes, there have been various challenges here, for no places is perfect and nobody is perfect, but we have enjoyed trying to rise to those challenges and meet them by working alongside Northern Irish brothers and sisters, whether they were town or country people.

But the time has come to move on. Whenever a minster arrives at a congregation or in a district there is always a finite time that they will stay there and the call is an inevitability that will come at some stage. For us it has been ten and a half years (only ten and a half years, I hear you cry – it has felt like decades!!) and now we must obey the call and go to pastures new, with new congregations to work with and new flocks to look after. It has been a great privilege and honour working in this district and at the congregations we have served (and yes, I am speaking for Patsy as well, something I rarely dare to do!!) And, you never know, the Call and the future might have a plan in store for us that brings us back to the Emerald Isle and if that does happen then we will be back, with bells on and that’s a promise!

However, in the mean time, whilst we get to grips with our new parishes over the water, on the large island to the east, the work, witness and worship will continue back here in the Irish District, with brothers and sisters who are willing to serve the Lord in any way you can. I know that the Lord will bless you in everything that you do in His great name and, as Pentecost fast approaches, we will all be reminded that all things are possible with and through the Lord, especially when we allow that great gift of the Holy Spirit into our lives and into our hearts. So, it’s good bye from me and good bye from her in doors and, as the old Irish Blessing goes, May the road rise to meet you, may the sun shine ever on your back!

Rev. Paul M Holdsworth

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