Sunday reflection

Trooping the colour

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names……”. 

St Matthew 10:1, NIV.

“That was a fitting event. It’s the least that we could do and indeed the most that we could do under the conditions” – Colonel Hugh Bodington.

The military ceremony held at Windsor Castle yesterday for the Queen’s official birthday was very different from the traditional Trooping the Colour but was still an impressive feat with social distancing throughout. It brought particular challenges for the soldiers and musicians taking part – imagine having to carry out precise manoeuvres before the Queen in warm sunshine and a thick uniform whilst playing a cornet, keeping two metres apart, wearing a busby, listening for the words of command given by those in authority and being televised! The ceremony was adapted, new manoeuvres developed and the troops rehearsed in just two weeks so it was a remarkable feat of achievement at a time of national crisis – as the Garrison Sergeant Major said, “We could not deliver the usual scale but could nonetheless deliver exceptional quality.”

That quality was delivered through rapid response, adaptability, discipline and hard work as those taking part had previously been carrying out Covid-19 tests to release NHS staff for nursing duties. What a contrast for them to go from dealing closely with potentially infected people and swabs in car parks to the magnificent surroundings of Windsor Castle – what a change and what a challenge, too!

Many of us are also having to face challenges in whatever circumstances we find ourselves and with changing guidance from those who exercise medical, scientific,  governmental and economic authority during these uncertain times. That’s also reflected in Jesus’ words to his disciples in the Gospel reading for today, the first Sunday after Trinity: he calls his followers to him and delegates authority to them to bring about healing. The authority is directed towards driving out evil spirits – which would be termed mental health issues today – and to heal sickness including dis-ease. At a time when many are not at ease with what is happening due to the pandemic and social unrest, and with concerns emerging about mental health, relationship issues, emotional and physical abuse during the lockdown, Jesus’ words and the authority he gives to his followers are as relevant today as then. 

The disciples are named before being sent out and the appreciation shown by the media and the public in naming medical staff, key workers and all those engaged in the battle with Coronavirus reminds us that the work of healing is being carried out by so many today. Who would be named on your personal list of those bringing healing and help today, like those first disciples, and who is receiving it? Is there anything you could contribute, such as praying the diocesan prayer for this week, below? St David suggested doing the little things well and that includes prayer, which is possible anywhere, anytime and for anyone. If quality rather than scale has to be considered in the face of dis-ease and disunity, even small things could make a healing difference so that Love is shared to create, “A wonderful, reassuring moment that some things really do carry on”. 

Robert Hardman, commentator at Windsor Castle.
Perhaps that is the least we could do and indeed the most we could do under the conditions…… 

Healing God, the frailty of our mortal nature has become real to us this year with clarity and sorrow. Grant us wisdom as we rebuild our lives, that we may learn lessons of gentleness and care, and better reflect your love for all your people and for the beautiful and fragile world around us. Amen.
Canon Carol Wardman 
With my prayers,

Trinity Sunday reflection

Trinity Sunday
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
St. Matthew 28:16-20, NIV.

“How scared are you?…… If ever there was a week when we needed clear answers about how scared we ought to be this is it.” Andrew Marr.

We continue to live through a pandemic that is still wreaking havoc and it’s clear that fear as well as hope is widespread amongst us. For good reason, perhaps because they are self-isolating, vulnerable or scared, many folk are staying at home to avoid contact. Others are venturing out, meeting up with family or friends, going to work or school and attending the ongoing demonstrations following the death of George Floyd where social distancing broke down as heated emotions were expressed. Some are confused about what to do for the best or scared of a second spike, despite the official advice from government and medical officers as they listen to the daily Coronavirus updates. So, it may help to know that the disciples also had their doubts as they met with their leader to hear what he had to say to them. This was their last meeting and the final words of Jesus to his followers form the Great Commission, so life-changing then – and today.

However, St Matthew’s Gospel makes it clear that the disciples were not united – some worshipped Jesus but others still had doubts, despite his resurrection, the appearances since Easter Day and time spent with him. Perhaps exhaustion or confusion had also set in as they struggled to understand what was unfolding while their way of life changed so fundamentally. That may apply to us, too, as we come to terms with having to live so differently, and as we perhaps look back longingly to what was rather than face what now is.

But, as he commissioned them to go to all nations, Jesus gave the disciples clear guidance for their future – they were to make disciples, baptise them and teach them, in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This Trinitarian God is in relationship and in community, coming to a world and followers in dis-unity both then and today. Those first disciples found their doubts transformed by the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and their commission began to be fulfilled as the Gospel gradually spread the world over. Today, we have their example to follow and our own commission to fulfil as we face the challenge to decide for ourselves how to answer the questions being asked by and of each one of us. We’re already finding new ways of relating, of worshipping and of living with Covid-19, which will not easily be defeated. But, whatever our individual circumstances, we can still be heartened by the enduring Gospel message of resurrection hope and find its expression through relationship and in comm-unity, whether or not we can actually meet. This Trinity Sunday, who knows what a difference that could make, whatever lies ahead?

God of Glory:
The union of the Trinity models life in community,
held together by creative love and each honoured in perfect equality.
May we recognise that without honour for each human person our common life is diminished;
but where distinctiveness is valued, we reflect the beauty of your presence amongst us.
Amen. Canon Carol Wardman

With my prayers

Come, O Creator Spirit, come! Tyrd, O Ysbryd Creawdwr, tyrd!

Come, O Creator Spirit, come! Tyrd, O Ysbryd Creawdwr, tyrd!

A Pastoral Letter to the Teulu Asaph from Bishop Gregory Wednesday, 3rd June, 2020

Llythyr Bugeiliol at Deulu Asaph oddi wrth Esgob Gregory Dydd Mercher, 3rd Mehefin, 2020

The moment which always electrifies me in the Ordination service is when all the ritual drops away for a moment, and we join together in singing one of the most ancient hymns of the Church, the Veni Creator (Come, O creator Spirit, come, and make within our hearts your home. To us your grace eternal give, who of your being move and live.) Sung in plainsong chant, unaccompanied where possible, it seems to me that, after all the build up, and before we actually come to the ordinations, everything is stripped away, and we simply seek the merciful action of the Holy Spirit, who alone can give meaning and significance to all that we are doing in that service.

Yr eiliad sy’n fy ngwefreiddio bob tro mewn gwasanaeth Ordeinio yw pan fydd y ddefod yn diflannu am funud a phawb yn uno gyda’n gilydd i ganu un o emynau mwyaf hynafol yr Eglwys, y Veni Creator (Tyrd, Ysbryd Glân, Greadwdwr mawr, ymwêl â’th weision ar y llawr; Â’th ras cyflenwa oddi fry, galonnau’r rhai a greasit ti.) Wrth gael ei chanu mewn plaengan, yn ddigyfeiliant os bo’n bosibl, rwy’n gallu gweld ar ôl yr holl godi at yr uchafbwynt, a chyn i ni ddod at yr ordeiniadau mewn gwirionedd, fod popeth arall yn diflannu ac mai’r cyfan rydyn ni’n ei wneud yw gofyn am weithred drugarog yr Ysbryd Glân, yr unig un sy’n gallu rhoi ystyr ac arwyddocâd i bopeth rydym yn ei wneud yn y gwasanaeth hwnnw.Come, O Creator Spirit, come!

If the Father is immortal and infinite, beyond our grasp, and the earthly ministry of the Son two thousand years ago, yet the Holy Spirit is the unending gift of God to his people to be with us, alongside us. In the Gospel according to John, there are, in the same form as so many other passages, two extended reflections by Jesus on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in Chapters 14 and 16. The Spirit of God is named there as “paraclete”, a term, which in the Greek has the sense of “one called forth to be alongside”. The name is translated variously, as “advocate” or “counsellor”, and neither word does it full justice, for the paraclete draws alongside us, to act on our behalf to bring us into God’s presence. “We do not know what to pray,” says Paul, “but the Spirit himself pleads for us in yearnings that can find no words” (Romans 8.26)

Os yw’r Tad yn dragwyddol ac yn anfeidrol, y tu hwnt i’n gafael, a gweinidogaeth ddaearol y Mab ddwy fil o flynyddoedd yn ôl, mae’r Ysbryd Glân yn dal yn rhodd ddiddiwedd Duw i’w bobl i fod gyda ni, wrth ein hochr. Yn yr efengyl yn ôl Ioan, mae yna, ym Mhenodau 14 ac 16, yn yr un ffurf fel ag mewn cymaint o ddarnau eraill, ddau fyfyrdod estynedig gan Iesu ar weinidogaeth yr Ysbryd Glân. Gelwir Ysbryd Duw yno yn ‘”ddiddanydd” neu “eiriolwr” (paraclete), term yn y Groeg sy’n golygu ‘un wedi’i alw i fod wrth ochr”. Mae’r enw’n cael ei gyfieithu weithiau fel “eirolwr” neu “cynghorwr” ond nid yw’r un o’r ddau air yn gwneud cyfiawnder â’r enw, oherwydd mae’r paraclete yn dod wrth ein hochr, i weithredu ar ein rhan, i ddod â ni i bresenoldeb Duw. “Ni wyddom ni sut y dylem weddio, ond y mae’r Ysbryd ei hun yn ymbil trosom ag ocheneidiau y tu hwnt i eiriau” (Rhufeiniaid 8.26)

Pentecost is the fiftieth day after Easter, and it falls around the same time as the Jewish festival of Shavuot, as Easter falls around Passover. It is the day which the Bible records as the occasion when the disciples were transformed by God’s Spirit which was revealed as wind and fire, sending them out with courage and passion to proclaim the Resurrection. And the Spirit stays with us still. The Spirit’s work is promised in every Baptism, invoked in every prayer, and it is the Spirit who gives life to faith. I believe that the Spirit is at work in every situation to bring life out of death, light out of dark, love out of misery, hope out of despair. The Spirit whispers to us when we pray, and prompts us as we live out our discipleship. The Spirit is our advocate, because he makes us bold enough to seek God’s grace, and binds us into communion with the Father and the Son. St Augustine spoke of the Spirit as the Love that binds the Father and the Son, and who binds us into the life of God. The Spirit also seeks to guide us into the path of fullness of life. “If you wander off the road to the right or the left,” promises Isaiah (30.21), “you will hear his voice behind you saying, “Here is the way. Follow it.”

Y Sulgwyn yw’r hanner canfed diwrnod ar ôl y Pasg, sef tua’r un adeg â’r ŵyl Iddewig Shavuot, gan fod y Pasg tua’r un pryd â Gŵyl y Bara Croyw. Dyma’r diwrnod mae’r Beibl yn ei gofnodi fel y digwyddiad pan gafodd y disgyblion eu trawsnewid gan Ysbryd Duw, oedd yn cael ei ddatgelu fel gwynt a thân, yn eu hanfon allan gyda dewrder ac angerdd i gyhoeddi’r Atgyfodiad. Ac mae’r ysbryd yn aros gyda ni byth ers hynny. Mae gwaith yr Ysbryd yn cael ei addo ym mhob Bedydd, yn cael ei alw ym mhob gweddi a dyma’r Ysbryd sy’n rhoi bywyd i ffydd. Credaf fod yr Ysbryd yn gweithio ym mhob sefyllfa i ddod â bywyd allan o farwolaeth, goleuni allan o dywyllwch, cariad allan o drallod a gobaith allan o anobaith. Yr Ysbryd sy’n sibrwd wrthym wrth i ni weddïo ac sy’n ein procio wrth i ni fyw ein disgyblaeth. Yr Ysbryd yw ein heiriolwr, oherwydd mae’n ein gwneud yn ddigon beiddgar i chwilio am ras Duw ac yn ein clymu mewn cymundod â’r Tad a’r Mab. Soniodd St Awstin fod yr Ysbryd fel y Cariad sy’n clymu’r Tad a’r Mab ac sydd yn ein clymu ni wrth fywyd Duw. Mae’r Ysbryd hefyd yn ceisio ein harwain ar lwybr llawnder bywyd. “Pan fyddwch am droi i’r dde neu i’r chwith, fe glywch â’ch clustiau lais o’ch ôl yn dweud “Dyma’r ffordd. Rhodiwch ynddi.”

I believe that God’s voice does speak to us in our hearts, if we train ourselves to listen. “My mind is full of thoughts,” someone might say to me, “How can I know which of them is the Spirit?”, but that is where stillness helps, where learning to measure the voice of God through Scripture and prayer and worship and fellow Christians and the testimony of the Church through two thousand years assists us in correct discernment.

Credaf fod llais Duw yn siarad gyda ni yn ein calonnau, os byddwn yn ein hyfforddi’n hunain i wrando. Gallai rhywun ddweud wrthyf “Mae fy meddwl yn llawn meddyliau, sut allaf i wybod pa un ohonynt yw’r Ysbryd?” ond dyna ble mae llonyddwch yn helpu, mae dysgu mesur llais Duw trwy’r Ysgrythur a gweddi ac addoli a chyda ein cyd Gristnogion a thystiolaeth yr Eglwys trwy dwy fil o flynyddoedd, yn ein cynorthwyo ni i’w ddirnad.

Above all else, the Spirit seeks to encourage and embolden us. And the Spirit is Love. When we are prompted to care for our neighbour, that is the Spirit at work in us; when we feel compassion for the weak or the outsider, that is the Spirit leading us into Jesus’ example of love exercised for the sake of another.

Yn anad dim, mae’r Ysbryd yn ceisio ein hannog a’n gwroli. A Chariad yw’r Ysbryd. Pan fyddwn yn cael ein procio i ofalu am ein cymydog, yr Ysbryd sydd yn gweithio ynom ni; pan fyddwn yn teimlo tosturi dros y gwan neu’r dieithryn, yr Ysbryd sydd yn ein harwain at esiampl Iesu o gariad yn cael ei ymarfer er budd rhywun arall.

Let us allow the Spirit to make a home in us. Let us use Pentecost to seek him to change us and mould us. Let us invite him to lead and to shape the Teulu Asaph. Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Gadewch i ni ganiatáu i’r Ysbryd wneud ei gartref ynom ni. Gadewch i ni ddefnyddio’r Sulgwyn i ofyn iddio ein newid a’n ffurfio. Gadewch i ni ei wahodd i arwain ac i ffurfio Teulu Asaph. Tyrd, Ysbryd Sanctaidd, tyrd!

Sunday reflection – Pentecost

Dear all,
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place…… all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…… Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” – Acts 2:1,4,13 NIV

“We are at a dangerous moment.” – England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

Today is Pentecost, sometimes called the birthday of the Church because of the gift of the Holy Spirit to those first followers of Jesus, who included Mary, other women and some of his family. Coming in the form of a rushing, mighty wind and tongues of flame, the effect on those followers was immediate. Rather than remain shut away in the seclusion of the upper room, they began to speak in tongues which amazed the gathering crowd of people who could hear their own language being spoken. Some were perplexed by what was happening while others just thought they were drunk – not realising that they were intoxicated with God’s love. What happened empowered the disciples to lose their fear and speak openly to those who would listen as, with Peter’s address and three thousand people later being baptised, the Holy Spirit “took the embers of isolation and fanned them into an unmissable flame” – Steven Quantick.

Today, the embers of isolation may also be a consideration for each of us as, having been told to stay in the safety of our homes for so long, we now face uncertainty as the restrictions introduced due to Covid-19 are eased. In Wales, this is currently at a slower pace than in England but, as some scientists voice concerns and heated controversy results over the actions of a certain Government adviser, a second spike of cases is still a considerable risk. Potentially, this could be a dangerous moment – but it’s also the moment when liberty and individual responsibility are slowly being restored. There is confusion and risk – but hope and possibility, too.

Each of us will have now have a choice about the decisions that are appropriate for the situations we individually face – and that may be a perplexing prospect after so much loss and change. The ‘new normal’ will be very different – but the cost of this emerging freedom to choose has been paid by those who have shown so much courage or borne such terrible suffering. Some will honour what’s now being asked of them while others may not and, just as some of the crowds at Pentecost misunderstood what happened then, some of us may do too. But over two thousand years ago at a turning point in history, frightened people were inspired, not only by the courage and suffering borne by Jesus, but his resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit. They made the choice to follow him then in showing and sharing costly love in a way that changed lives, transformed fear and eventually grew into the church we know today.  
During the turning point in history that we are living through, we are also being faced with various choices which will affect our individual, local and national circumstances. May what happened that first Pentecost hearten us in the challenges of finding new ways of leading our lives in relation to those around us, of being church and of proclaiming afresh the message of God’s transforming love that can change lives today as much as then. This Pentecost, as at the first, may the Holy Spirit take the embers of isolation and fan them into an unmissable flame:
Emmanuel, God with us,
On the day we mark as the birth of the church,
the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles in wind and fire,
leading them to new boldness and adventure.
May the wind of the Spirit give us the courage and love to speak the Good News,
and the Spirit’s flames empower us to abandon fear and doubt,
as we take our place in the future you have prepared for us. Amen.
(Canon Carol Wardman)
With my prayers

Bishop Gregory’s Pastoral Letter Llythyr Bugeiliol Esgob Gregory

How long, O Lord, how long? Am ba hyd, O Arglwydd, am ba hyd?

A Pastoral Letter to the Teulu Asaph from Bishop Gregory Wednesday, 27th May, 2020

Llythyr Bugeiliol at Deulu Asaph oddi wrth Esgob Gregory Dydd Mercher 27 Mai 2020.

One of the persistent features of Scripture is waiting. The people of Israel wait in Egypt for God to free them, they wait in the wilderness for the Promised Land, they wait for God to send the Messiah. In the book of Psalms, the psalmist often asks “How long, O Lord?” as in the title of this letter – taken from Psalm 6, but one reference among many. At the Ascension, Jesus instructs his disciples to wait afterwards until the coming of the Holy Spirit. So, with Ascension Day last Thursday, and Pentecost this coming Sunday, we too wait, in liturgical time, for the coming of the Spirit.

Un o nodweddion cyson yr Ysgrythur yw disgwyl. Pobl Israel yn disgwyl yn yr Aifft i Dduw eu rhyddhau, yn disgwyl yn yr anialwch am Wlad yr Addewid, yn disgwyl i Dduw anfon y Meseia. Yn llyfr y Salmau, mae’r salmydd yn gofyn yn aml “Am ba hyd o Arglwydd?” fel yn nheitl y llythyr hwn – o’r chweched Salm ond yn un o lawer yr un fath. Yn y Dyrchafael, mae Iesu’n gofyn i’w ddisgyblion ddisgwyl nes y daw’r Ysbryd Glan. Felly, a hithau’n Ddydd Iau Dyrchafael ddydd Iau diwethaf, ac yn Sulgwyn y Sul nesaf, rydyn ni hefyd yn disgwyl, am ddyfodiad yr Ysbryd.

The biggest wait of all, at the moment however, must be the wait for the end of lockdown. Britain took to the lockdown remarkably well, I think: I suppose we had the example of Italy and others ahead of us, and there was almost a stirring of the wartime spirit, especially as we also had VE75 Day to mark. “We will meet again” Her Majesty assured us, echoing Vera Lynn. Yet, in our prayers now, we’re probably beginning to join the psalmists, and wonder “How long?” The answers we pick up in the media do not inspire confidence. Even when the English government tells the schools that they can go back, there are many that don’t want them to, and we remain in a sort of indecision: we want to see the end of lockdown, but we aren’t quite sure that it is safe to go out yet.

Ond mae’n rhaid mai’r disgwyl mwyaf oll, ar hyn o bryd beth bynnag, yw disgwyl am ddiwedd y cyfnod clo. Derbyniodd gwledydd Prydain y cyfnod clo yn rhyfeddol o dda, rwy’n meddwl. Mae’n debyg ein bod ni’n gweld enghreifftiau’r Eidal a gwledydd eraill a oedd o’n blaenau, ac roedd yna bron atgof o naws adeg rhyfel, yn enwedig gan ein bod hefyd yn dathlu diwrnod VE75. “We will meet again” sicrhaodd Ei Mawrhydi ni, yng ngeiriau Vera Lynn. Eto, yn ein gweddïau ar hyn o bryd, mae’n debyg ein bod ni’n dechrau dweud fel y salmydd ac yn pendroni “Am ba hyd?” Dyw’r atebion sydd ar y cyfryngau ddim yn codi hyder. Hyd yn oed pan mae Llywodraeth Lloegr yn dweud y gall yr ysgolion ail agor, mae yna lawer sy’n gwrthod, ac rydyn ni’n dal mewn rhyw fath o amhendantrwydd: rydyn ni eisiau gweld cefn y cyfnod clo ond dydyn ni ddim yn ddigon siŵr a yw hi’n ddiogel i ni fentro allan.

The apostle Paul encouraged the early Christians who suffered for their faith, and who were waiting for the return of the Lord in glory. “We can take courage when under pressure,” he writes in Romans 5.3,4, “knowing that such pressures produce endurance. Endurance produces constancy, and constancy, hope. Hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit.” I understand this to mean, in other words, that God’s action comes first, and the fact that God’s love has been poured out upon us in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit, means that God is already at work in us, seeking to bring us through endurance to hope.

Roedd yr Apostol Paul yn annog y Cristnogion cynnar oedd yn dioddef dros eu ffydd ac a oedd yn disgwyl i’r Arglwydd dychwelyd mewn gogoniant. “Yr ydym hyd yn oed yn gorfoleddu yn ein gorthrymderau” mae’n dweud yn Rhufeiniaid 5.3,4 “oherwydd fe wyddom mai o orthrymder y daw’r gallu i ymddál, ac o’r gallu i ymddál y daw rhuddin cymeriad ac o gymeriad y daw gobaith. A dyma obaith na chawn ein siomi ganddo, oherwydd y mae cariad Duw eisoes wedi’i dywallt yn ein calonnau trwy’r Ysbryd Glân y mae ef wedi ei roi i ni.”. Rwy’n meddwl mai ystyr hyn, mewn geiriau eraill, yw mai gweithred Duw a ddaw gyntaf, a bod y ffaith fod cariad Duw wedi’u dywallt arnom ni yn Iesu a’r Ysbryd Glân yn golygu fod Duw eisoes ar waith yn ein plith, yn ceisio dod â ni, drwy orthrymder, at obaith.

In a strange way, the busyness of life and ministry before lockdown may have stopped us languishing. The empty days of lockdown have presented us with the space of opportunity: but we have to generate our own energy, and we find ourselves getting weary. Yet God seeks to transform this cycle. He wants to edge us out of self-reliance into a greater communion with him, to open us to the renewing of the Holy Spirit in order to guide us upwards in the journey of life. “I have arrived at the door,” says the risen Jesus in Revelation Chapter 3 (verse 20), “and I knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to dine with them, and they with me.”

Yn rhyfedd iawn, efallai fod prysurdeb bywyd a’r weinidogaeth cyn y cyfnod clo wedi ein hatal rhag llesgau. Mae dyddiau gwag y cyfnod clod wedi rhoi lle a chyfle i ni: ond mae’n rhaid i ni gynhyrchu ein hegni ein hunain ac rydyn ni’n gweld ein hunain yn llesghau. Eto mae Duw yn ceisio trawsnewid y cylch hwn. Mae eisiau i ni symud yn araf allan o hunan ddibyniaeth i gymuno mwy ag ef, agor ein hunain i gael ein hadnewyddu gan yr Ysbryd Glân er mwyn ein cyfeirio uchod ar daith bywyd. “Wele yr wyf yn sefyll wrth y drws” meddai’r Iesu atgyfodedig yn nhrydedd bennod y Datguddiad (adnod 20) “ac yn curo; os clyw rhywun fy llais ac agor y drws, dof i mewn ato a swperaf gydag ef, ac yntau gyda minnau.”

I am interested that the living Jesus of the book of Revelation uses the imagery of the dinner party. ‘What shall we do when you let me in? We’re going to feast’ he seems to be saying. I’m sure that we have had the experience at some time of life of pushing the last guests out of the door after a party, and them saying “We’ve had a great time, thank you.” This is what time spent with God should feel like. Perhaps we should see the lockdown as some sort of pitstop, in which God wishes to refresh us, and nourish us with spiritual bread for the journey. Now I know that a Formula One pitstop is only 16 seconds at most, and lockdown will be a lot longer, but every moment used for spiritual refreshment can help us on our way.

Rwy’n codi fy nghlustiau pan glywaf yr Iesu byw o lyfr y Datguddiad yn defnyddio delwedd parti swper. Mae fel petae’n dweud ‘Beth wnawn ni pan fyddi’n fy ngadael i mewn? Byddwn yn gwledda. ” Rwy’ siŵr ein bod ni i gyd wedi cael profiad ryw dro yn ein bywyd a wthio’r rhai diwethaf i adael drwy’r drws ar ôl parti a hwythau’n dweud “Diolch i chi am amser gwych.” Dyma sut y dylai treulio amser gyda Duw deimlo. Efallai y dylen ni ystyried y cyfnod clo fel rhyw fath o fan aros, lle mae Duw yn ein hadnewyddu, yn ein bwydo gyda bara ysbrydol ar gyfer y daith. Ychydig o amser mae rhywun yn ei dreulio mewn man aros, bydd y cyfnod clo yn llawer hwy, ond gall pob eiliad sy’n cael ei defnyddio i’n hadnewyddu’n ysbrydol ein helpu ar ein taith.

Invest in the ways in which you find God refreshes you. It may be silent prayer, or reading the Bible, investing in those you love, or finding inspiration in art, or poetry or music or the garden. Goodness me, it might just be all of them.

Gwnewch y gorau o’r ffyrdd y mae Duw yn eich adnewyddu chi. Efallai drwy weddi ddistaw, drwy ddarllen y Beibl, drwy wneud eich gorau dros y rhai rydych yn eu caru neu gael ysbrydoliaeth mewn celf, barddoniaeth, cerddoriaeth neu’r ardd. Ac efallai, yn wir, ym mhob un.

These thoughts seem to be a tale of two halves. One the one side, the acknowledgement of the weariness that can fall on us; on the other the refreshment that God wants to offer. Keep the faith, dear friends. Seek new strength from God. Look for the joy. May God bless you richly,

Mae’r myfyrdodau hyn i’w gweld yn dod mewn dwy ran. Ar un ochr, y gydnabyddiaeth y gall llesgedd ein trechu, ar y llaw arall y lluniaeth y mae Duw eisiau ei gynnig i ni. Cadwch y ffydd, gyfeillion annwyl. Ceisiwch nerth newydd gan Dduw. Chwiliwch am lawenydd. Bydded i Dduw eich bendithio, yn hael.

St Melangell Day 2020

This faceless sculpture of St Melangell and the hare within her cloak stays in the garden here during the summer and is taken into the centre for protection from bad weather in winter. At this time of Melangell’s Feast Day there would normally be many people coming here. However, the church and centre are both locked while the Covid-19 pandemic continues and so I did some gardening. As, alone, I weeded around the statue I viewed it from differing angles and began to see it in a new light. Perhaps it was because of the buzzards and red kites flying overhead at times, but it seemed to me that, with her cloak flying around her, Melangell is taking the hare under her wing when it runs to her, actively giving it protection as well as just letting it hide. Did that lead to her taking others under her wing when she later became Abbess to the community that developed here and, as Mother Melangell, gave protection, hospitality and care to those in need of it in the place still called the sanctuary land today?

During this time of crisis, as well as the care being provided by NHS, hospice, carers and key workers, there are many others who need to find or be given shelter and support – perhaps that applies to us as well as those around or in the news. Who can we run to or what can we do to offer protection to others when we may be in isolation or at a social distance?

Psalm 91 uses the image of a mother hen to remind us that refuge can always be found under God’s wings and, as Mother Melangell prayerfully provided sanctuary for those who needed it, so can we. With care being so much needed in the complex issues facing us all, why not consider someone you know or in the news and take them under your wing in prayer for them and their situation? In the face of uncertainty and with little idea of what the ‘new normal’ will involve, may Melangell’s prayerful example inspire us to take others under our wing in prayer and know that we can all find refuge and help within the love of God, whatever the future holds:
“…under his wings you will find refuge… will not fear the pestilence that stalks in the darkness nor the plague that destroys at midday….I will be with them in trouble ….. and show them my salvation.” Psalm 91, vv4,6,15,16, NIV

Sunday reflection and video from Esgobty

Hello one and all,

This is the reflection I wrote for today’s online service from Esgobty, based on the Gospel reading for this, the Seventh Sunday of Easter – the Sunday after Ascension Day. The passage is St John 17: 1-11 and it’s good to see Enid Jones reading it in Welsh during the service and to share the prayers of Christine Hainsworth – thanks to them both for participating and to Michael and John who did their filming.

The videoed service is available from the Diocesan website on this link:

  Worship from Esgobty – Diocese St. Asaph

Bishop Gregory invites you to join him and others for a collaborative service of worship. Click on the image opposite to watch the latest service from Esgobty or catch up with previous services via the links below.

  and,  as not everyone can access the videoed service, two photos are included in the reflection.

With my prayers as St.Melangell’s feast day draws near,


I’m in the garden at St Melangell’s and I hope you’ll occasionally hear some of the glorious birdsong all around. This being the time near St Melangell’s feast day, there would usually be many people coming here. Today, though, it’s deserted as the terrible toll of the Covid.-19 pandemic continues. In what’s been described as the coronacoaster of emotions and challenges we’re all having to face, the dappled sunlight shining through chestnut leaves onto the bluebells here and the dappling of these colourful flowers or in the woods behind me seem to reflect the many shades of emotion being experienced as suffering continues while creation is revealed in its spring glory. 

“Glory be to God for dappled things….. Praise him,” wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins in his poem Pied Beauty. This came to mind because of today’s Gospel, in which 

Jesus prayed, “Father, I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” Earlier, his disciples were bewildered: “What does he mean?” they ask, “We don’t understand.” Despite his own needs before his crucifixion, Jesus patiently helped them to grasp what he was telling them. “You believe at last!” he says, with evident relief, “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home.” 

These words may have an added resonance as we hear them amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, and as we today are scattered, many of us confined to our own homes. Perhaps, like those first disciples, we don’t understand what’s  happening and are bewildered by what we’re being told. But Jesus not only prayed for himself and his disciples, he also commissioned his followers to continue what had been begun as he prepared to leave them. The disciples were too scared to do that at first, and locked themselves away after the crucifixion. But the resurrection and later ascension of Jesus not only made God visible here on earth, humanity was raised to new heights too in Jesus’ return to the glory whence he came. Those disciples eventually rose to the challenge of a new way of life when inspired by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the good news of resurrection hope began to be shared. If that can happen then, it can happen today as we respond to the same commission: our lives can also be transformed when we face up to our fear, ask for God’s help in dealing with it and try to rise to the challenges before us all despite Coronavirus.

The word corona means crown, shown in the spikes of the virus. It can also mean halo and in Holman Hunt’s painting The Light of the World, Christ is shown with three coronae: the crown of thorns from his crucifixion woven into the golden crown of kingship and the halo signifying holiness.

THOSE coronae, borne of his suffering, death and resurrection, indicate that the love of Jesus is also spreading amongst us in these dark times but his words remind us that this involves suffering as well as hope:  “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

St.Melangell’s life shows that too. She had trouble accepting a way of life that she didn’t want and ran away, choosing uncertainty rather than privilege. Melangell may have spent ten solitary years here before the encounter with Prince Brochwel and she could have run away from the hunt but, in peacefully confronting violence, she drew a response of generosity from the Prince. By giving her some of his land, they both enabled this area to become a place of sanctuary, healing and hope. It still is today and, as we face isolation and uncertainty, Melangell’s bravery and Brochwel’s generosity may inspire us not to fear change and solitude but also try to rise above what threatens to drag us down in a way that may draw out the best in us all.

As with Jesus, no-one knows what Melangell looked like and her sculpture here is faceless. By contrast, the faces of many of those particularly affected by the pandemic are often seen in the media. But there are countless others too, whose faces may be unknown yet who are also contributing in often unseen ways to do what they can to help the isolated. We may be separated, but social media enables us to be reunited, though very differently. So, as we face the current closure of church buildings, the challenge to meet for worship in new ways and all that is being asked of us each day, we too can be strengthened by the prayer of Jesus for all his followers as he asks God to ”protect them …. so that they may be one as we are one.” Jesus prays for protection, not from troubles or difficulties, but for the sake of unity. 

Today, whether isolated or together, we can also be united in persevering with hope and prayer even though the future is so uncertain. It’s hard and there may be times when anxiety and grief overwhelm us and the terrible heartache and mess that this Coronavirus has created seem to dominate. But the coronae of Jesus in Hunt’s painting remind us of the resurrection hope Jesus won at such great cost, and that there will also be glorious moments when we glimpse costly Love spreading amongst us, find courage in the face of adversity or notice the glory of spring unfolding all around us, wherever we may be. And at those times, amidst the many shades of emotion caused by Covid-19, may our hearts nevertheless be lifted to echo Hopkin’s words: “Glory be to God for dappled things… Praise him.” 


From Bishop Gregory Oddi wrth Esgob Gregory Ascension 2020

yPower from on High Nerth oddi Fry 

A Pastoral Letter for the Teulu Asaph, on the Eve of the Ascension 2020 

From Bishop Gregory 

Llythyr Bugeiliol i Deulu Asaph ar noswyl Dyrchafael 2020 

Oddi wrth Esgob Gregory 

The Ascension of Christ into Heaven – the feast which the Church keeps tomorrow – is a break point. It is the end of the earthly ministry of Jesus – the last time he was physically present to the disciples before he returned to the Father. This mysterious event is described in the scriptures as a literal ascent, but it is not quite like the space shuttle achieving the momentum to break free of Earth’s gravity in a literal way: it is rather a transfer from this temporal realm into the eternal, into the ubiquity of God’s presence. Although I say it is not a literal breaking free of Earth’s gravity, however, this phrase has a truth which actually makes for a magnificent metaphor.  

Mae Dyrchafael Crist i’r Nef – gŵyl y mae’r Eglwys yn ei chadw yfory – yn drobwynt. Mae’n ddiwedd gweinidogaeth ddaearol Iesu – y tro olaf yr oedd yn bresennol yn gorfforol gyda’i ddisgyblion cyn dychwelyd at y Tad. Mae’r digwyddiad dirgel hwn yn cael ei ddisgrifio yn yr ysgrythurau fel esgyniad llythrennol, ond nid fel gwennol ofod yn cyrraedd momentwm i dorri’r rhydd, yn llythrennol, o afael disgyrchiant y Ddaear ond, yn hytrach, trosglwyddiad sydd yma o’r deyrnas ddaearol hon i’r deyrnas dragwyddol, i bresenoldeb y Duw hollbresenol. Er fy mod yn dweud nad torri’n rhydd yn llythrennol o ddisgyrchiant y Ddaear sy’n cael ei ddisgrifio, mae gwirionedd yn yr ymadrodd sy’n ei wneud yn drosiant gwych. 

The gravity of Earth might be used to symbolise everything that holds us back from holiness, from the ability to enter into that fullness of life which God wills for us. In our own lives we see the failure to be all we’d like to be, and all that God would like us to be (which is what the Bible calls “sin”). In the world, we see mankind’s sin as a whole rolled out in the manifold injustices, oppressions and violence that can wrench our world out of kilter. In the Ascension, Jesus quite simply breaks free of all that, but also invites us to break free as well. In the Gospel according to Luke, almost his last words to the disciples are: “… wait patiently … until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24.49) This is an invitation to await the Holy Spirit, who will break in and empower the disciples at Pentecost to turn the world upside down, and to break free with the Gospel.  

Gellir defnyddio disgyrchiant y Ddaear fel symbol o bopeth sy’n ein cadw rhag sancteiddrwydd, sy’n ein rhwystro rhag mynd i mewn i lawnder y bywyd sef ewyllys Duw ar ein cyfer ni. Rydyn ni’n gweld yn ein bywydau ein hunain y methiant i fod yn bopeth yr hoffen ni fod, yn bopeth yr hoffai Duw i ni fod (sy’n cael ei alw’n “bechod” yn y Beibl). Yn y byd, rydyn ni’n gweld holl bechodau dynolryw yn y gwahanol anghyfiawnderau, gorthrymderau a thrais sy’n gallu taflu ein byd oddi ar ei echel. Yn y Dyrchafael, mae Iesu’n torri’n rhydd o hyn i gyd, ond mae hefyd yn ein gwahodd ninnau i dorri’n rhydd hefyd. Yn yr Efengyl yn ôl Luc, ei eiriau olaf, bron, i’w ddisgyblion yw: “… disgwyl yn amyneddgar … nes eich gwisgo chwi oddi uchod â nerth”. (Luc 24.49). Gwahoddiad yw hwn i ddisgwyl yr Ysbryd Glân a fydd yn ymddangos ac yn nerthu’r disgyblion adeg y Sulgwyn i droi’r byd wyneb i waered, ac i dorri’n rhydd gyda’r Efengyl. 

Even religion, however, can feel like gravity pulling us down at times. Weighed down with obligations, we struggle to keep going and to meet expectations. However, God simply doesn’t want faith to be like that. We are called to be a people who become acquainted with the Truth about life, embodied in the fullness of life lived and taught by Jesus and extended to us by invitation, and “the truth shall set you free” (John 8.32) 

Ond gall hyd yn oed crefydd deimlo fel disgyrchiant sy’n ein tynnu i lawr ar adegau. Llwyth o gyfrifoldebau’n pwyso arnom ni wrth i ni ymdrechu i ddal ati a chyfarfod y disgwyliadau. Ond, nid yw Duw eisiau i ffydd fod fel hyn o gwbl. Rydyn ni’n cael ein galw i fod yn bobl sy’n adnabod y Gwirionedd ynghylch bywyd, wedi ein hymgorffori yn llawnder y bywyd yr oedd Iesu’n ei fyw a’i ddysgu ac sydd wedi’i estyn i ni trwy wahoddiad, a ‘bydd y gwirionedd yn eich rhyddhau” (Ioan 8.32) 

I have written in previous weeks about how I believe that we in our own discipleship, and the nation in its life, cannot go back to old ways when we are released from lockdown. I believe that there is also a great deal of “gravity” which keeps the Church in a state of heaviness, from which we are called to break free in the power of the Spirit. The renewal of the Church will not be about going back to the glories of the past, but about finding a confidence for the future. The faith remains the same, but the Church which bears witness to it has to change. I would like to see a Church which is free of doing things the way we’ve always done them, to become a Church which reimagines worship and word and sacraments for what they are – channels enabling us to draw close to God, that he might fill us with his “power from on high”. I would like to see a Church which sees its job, not as maintaining buildings and services as they were for the last hundred years, but as building full lives, which are based on faith, on following Jesus, on serving the world in love. I would like to serve in a Church where the question on everyone’s lips is not: “How will we keep going?” but “How can we be more like Jesus?” 

Rwyf wedi sôn yn yr wythnosau a aeth heibio sut rwy’n credu na allwn ni, yn ein disgyblaeth ein hunain, nac ym mywyd y genedl, fynd yn ôl at yr hen drefn pan fyddwn wedi cael ein rhyddhau o’r cyfyngiadau symud. Rwy’n amau hefyd fod yna lawer iawn o “ddisgyrchiant” sy’n cadw’r Eglwys mewn cyflwr o drymder, a’n bod ni’n cael ein galw i dorri’n rhydd yn nerth yr Ysbryd. Nid drwy fynd yn ôl i ogoniant y gorffennol y mae adnewyddu’r Eglwys, ond drwy ganfod hyder wrth wynebu’r dyfodol. Mae’r ffydd yn aros yr un fath, ond mae’n rhaid i’r Eglwys sy’n tystiolaethu iddo newid. Hoffwn weld Eglwys sydd wedi’i rhyddhau o wneud pethau yr un ffordd ag o’r blaen, ac yn Eglwys sy’n ailddarganfod addoliad a’r gair a’r sagrafennau am yr hyn ydyn nhw mewn gwirionedd– sianelau sy’n ein galluogi ni i nesau at Dduw, fel ei fod yn gallu ein llenwi gyda’i “nerth oddi fry”. Hoffwn weld Eglwys sy’n gweld ei gwaith, nid fel cynnal a chadw adeiladau a gwasanaethau yr un fath ag yr oedden nhw gan mlynedd yn ôl, ond sy’n adeiladu bywydau llawn, yn seiliedig ar ffydd, ar ddilyn Iesu, ar wasanaethu’r byd mewn cariad. Hoffwn wasanaethu mewn Eglwys ble nad y cwestiwn ar wefusau pawb yw: “Pa mor hir fyddwn ni’n cadw i fynd?” ond “Sut allwn ni fod yn fwy fel Iesu?” 

When Jesus said to his disciples “I came that you might have life, and life in all its abundance” (John 10.10), I am sure that he saw faith as life giving, joy imparting, strength inducing, peace communicating. When I was a student in Cambridge, I remember a church which had a big notice on the way in: “In this Church we believe the fundamentals of the Christian Faith, i.e. the Authorised Version of the Bible and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.” I can’t help feeling that that particular Church was confusing the medium with the message. The King James Bible can be a magnificent medium, and a quiet Prayer Book Communion can still nourish my soul, but they won’t do that for everyone, and Jesus told us to go out, and bring the joy of faith to others. 

Pan ddywedodd Iesu wrth ei ddisgyblion “Yr wyf i wedi dod er mwyn i ddynion gael bywyd a’i gael yn ei holl gyflawnder”(Ioan 10.10), rwy’n siŵr ei fod yn gweld ffydd fel rhywbeth bywiol, yn rhoi llawenydd, yn cynhyrchu nerth, yn cyfathrebu tangnefedd. Pan oeddwn i’n fyfyriwr yng Nghaergrawnt, rwy’n cofio eglwys gydag arwydd ar y ffordd i mewn iddi: “Yn yr Eglwys hon rydym yn credu yn hanfodion y Ffydd Gristnogol, h.y. y Fersiwn Awdurdodedig o’r Beibl a’r Llyfr Gweddi Cyffredin 1662.” Alla i ddim peidio â 

theimlo fod yr Eglwys honno’n cymysgu rhwng y cyfrwng a’r neges. Mae Beibl y Brenin Iago’n gallu bod yn gyfrwng mawreddog, ac mae Cymun tawel y Llyfr Gweddi’n dal i allu bwydo fy enaid, ond nid pawb sy’n teimlo fel hyn a dywedodd Iesu wrthyn ni i fynd allan a dod â llawenydd y ffydd i eraill. 

People want to see how things make a difference in the modern world. If faith leaves people as grumpy and as staid as ever, then people leave the faith. It’s as simple as that.  

Mae pobl eisiau gweld sut mae pethau’n gwneud gwahaniaeth yn y byd heddiwOs yw ffydd yn gadael pobl mor bigog ac mor sidȇt ag erioedyna bydd pobl yn gadael y ffydd. Mae mor syml a hynny! 

If I am honest with you, Clare and I need to declutter in Esgobty. When our Church buildings reopen, we will all need to declutter our discipleship, and seek “power from on high”, so that God will help us break free from the gravity of all that holds us back, and be caught up in a vision of the heaven which beckons us onward. 

A dweud y gwir, fe ddylai Clare gael gwared ar lawer o stwff o’r Esgobty. Pan fydd adeiladau ein Heglwys yn ail agor, fe ddylem ninnau gael gwared o’r “stwff” yn ein disgyblaeth a chwilio am “nerth oddi fry”, er mwyn i Dduw ein helpu i dorri’n rhydd o’r disgyrchiant sy’n ein dal yn ôl, a chael ein cadw yn y weledigaeth o’r nef sy’n ein galw ymlaen. 

May you have an amazing Ascensiontide, and a powerful Pentecost, 

Boed i chi Ddyrchafael dihafal a Sulgwyn syfrdanol

Ascension Day

“While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the Temple, praising God.” St Luke 24: 51-53, NIV

Today is Ascension Day, the fortieth day of Easter – sometimes called the coronation of the king as Jesus returned to the glory whence he came. Tonight, there will be a celebration for Ascension Day from St Martin in the Fields on Radio Four at 8pm – one way of being church together whilst apart!

In St Luke’s account, we’re told that Jesus’ last words to his disciples before he left them were of blessing and that, rather than being sorrowful at their leader’s departure, they were joyful. Clearly, the time spent with Jesus since his resurrection had changed those fearful followers, who initially locked themselves away after the crucifixion. As he left them, the disciples were now able to rejoice and openly praised God in the Temple – what a transformation!

In taking human experience into heaven, that transformation can still continue for us today as St Paul reminds us that Christ Jesus “…. is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34, NIV. There is much that may make our hearts and spirits sink currently as the Covid-19 pandemic continues but Ascension Day gives us the hope that hearts can still be lifted and voices raised in praise, for “The heart that broke for all the broken hearted is whole”. May Malcolm Guite’s sonnet hearten us as we try to rise to the challenges before us and praise God this Ascension Day!


We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .

Malcolm Guite, from his collection Sounding the seasons. Used with permission.
With my prayers,