January Blog 2024

Firstly, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very fulfilled and blessed 2024.

This morning at our first staff prayer meeting in this new year, we were praying for one another and the coming year, and there was a sense of darkness through which the light pierced, a picture of protection with the outstretched wings of an eagle covering us, and a sense of ‘unknowing’. In Lectio 365 this morning there was a quote from the 17th century mystic, Madame Jeanne Guyon, ‘If knowing answers to life’s questions is absolutely necessary to you, then forget the journey. You will never make it, for this is a journey of unknowables – of unanswered questions, enigmas, incomprehensibles and most of all, things unfair’. And as we look out into the wider world today, and witness the horror of war, natural disasters, climate change; and closer to home, poverty, debt, homelessness, mental health problems, and daily challenges of living, we know this quote to be true. Life is unfair, and we face many unanswered questions, and perhaps cry out to God for the injustice that we see around us.

Some of you will know that just before Christmas when leading a New Wine Service at All Saints in Hoole, and a Confirmation service at St. Mark’s, I had a vision of Aslan (in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, the lion Aslan represents God) entering into both churches; and then I had a vision of Aslan entering Bishop’s House in Chester in the middle of the Archbishops Council which was being held there, and roaring ‘I am who I am’ – these are the words that God spoke to Moses at the Burning Bush. He also went on to say, ‘This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations’. (Exodus 3. V14-15). A few days later my attention was drawn to the Lion, placed on the top of the Pepper Street Car Park, overlooking the whole City of Chester!

I shared these visions with the Bishop of Chester and with Bishop Keith, because as I have spent time praying through these visions and reflecting on them, I feel that God is saying, ‘Wake up from your slumber, I am alive and on the move. Your thoughts, actions and words are not hidden from me. You can’t hide from me in the dark – I am the Light of the whole World – bringing what is hidden into the Light of Christ. I am the all-powerful one, the mighty one, the one who reigns over all I have created, roaring I am who I am and this is my name forever, and this my title for all generations’. I am the same yesterday, today, and forever’.

Then to my amazement the Lectio 365 reflection this morning went on to say, ‘Justice arrives like a roar; it halts the decline and despair of a world in pain and utters the proclamation that our God reigns. Let us pray for a roar of God’s presence, kindness, and power to be released through our lives’.

May I suggest that if we really saw a lion walking through our churches, the Bishop’s House, or the streets of Chester, then it would be in the national press the next day. Why then do we keep the best news ever, which we have just been celebrating this Christmas, shut up in our churches?! God is not tame and safely tied up in our churches, rather He is loose, and has made Himself known by becoming flesh and blood and moving into our neighbourhood (John 1. Verses 10-14 The Message). He is alive, present with us, and wants us to wake up and roar the good news of Jesus Christ from the tops of car parks to the gathering of babies and toddlers, and all the other opportunities we have at St. Mark’s, in our local community, City, and frontlines.

In my November Blog I reminded us of the 3 words, ‘surrender, trust and freedom’, and my Spiritual Director suggests they go together with the vision of Aslan. We need to continue to surrender our whole lives to the one who rules and reigns over His Kingdom, we need to trust Him with our whole lives, with the unknowables – of unanswered questions, enigmas, incomprehensibles and most of all, things unfair’. And we need to remember that it is God who on the Cross set us free from sin and death and spoke forgiveness over all humanity. Knowing His forgiveness and freedom, are we witnessing His grace, mercy, peace and love to others, and truly living our lives in the fullness of Christ? (John 10.10).

I leave you with the final prayer from this morning’s Lectio reflection. ‘Holy Spirit roar your kindness through my life in this New Year. Make me whole-hearted in seeing the places of need in your world and open my hands, heart and wallet to be generous in your name’.

Aslan roars – I am who I am!


New Year Blessings