Dear Friends,

Even though the General Election was only a week ago (as I write) it already feels like a distant memory. Instead, the fallout from the various resignations and reorganisations is now hogging the limelight. And yet fleeting though Election Day was, I wonder whether we really appreciate the significance of our right to vote? At times, I too feel like my vote doesn’t have much significance in the grand scheme of things, and yet I have always taken pride in exercising my right and responsibility to vote.

Dear Friends,

When people who don't know me find out I'm a minister, they have two reactions. Firstly, they look surprised. Apparently, I don't look the way a minister should (either a bearded man wearing black or Dawn French). Secondly, they ask: 'So what is it you actually do?' Some of you may also wonder - though I know you're too polite to ask. So welcome to a week in the life of one minister!

I know Sunday is the first day of the week - but a ministerial week begins on Monday. And in the case of a minister serving a group of churches, it begins with the question: Where am I on Sunday? Am I leading worship at 9.30? At 11am? Both? If the latter, how close to each other are the churches? If the former: is there a church meeting after the service? Am I prepared for it? And is there a sneaky afternoon or evening service that I forget to my peril and everyone else's irritation?

Dear Friends

I have just been looking at what the month of March this year brings us…apart from Mad March Hares and beautiful Spring flowers!

There’s St David’s Day which is also Tear Fund Sunday, the Women’s World Day of Prayer from The Bahamas, Mothering Sunday, St Patrick’s Day, the International Day of Happiness, End Racism Day, World Water Sunday to name but a few! We will also be in the season of Lent leading to the roller coaster of events and emotions expressed throughout the Easter Story itself. Phew!

There’s no doubt about it; the death of Jesus was unexpected, and although he gave quite a few hints that it would happen, the disciples either didn’t believe him, or just didn’t want to. And when it did finally happen, it left the disciples in a state of shock and dismay that they wouldn’t have recovered from had it not been for what happened next. For if Jesus’ death was unexpected, his resurrection was doubly so … or was it?

Dear Friends

How many groups do you reckon you belong to, beyond family? My guess is, quite a few. For, while it's not impossible to live a good life without reference to God, it is impossible to be Christ's body without other people. The letter to the Hebrews tells us: 'Don't give up meeting together!' and churches like ours take that advice very seriously. We thrive on interest groups, like the Chandler's Ford craft group or Freemantle's badminton; on groups set up for particular people, like the Avenue St Andrew's lunch club for older people or the Isaac Watts Boys and Girls Brigades, on groups making decisions, like each of our Elders and Church Meetings. Then there are the non-church groups that are also part of our lives: hobbies, volunteering, campaigning. For, if all your social groups are church people, you're missing out on a lot that God has in store for you!