Sunday reflection

Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter.
“He was led like a lamb to the slaughter….. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants?” Isaiah 53:7,8, quoted in Acts 8:26-40, NIV.
“For there is nothing lost that may be found, if sought.” Edmund Spenser.

At the start of the chapter from which today’s reading is taken, Stephen had been violently martyred and the followers of Jesus fled in fear for their lives. They might perhaps have kept quiet for their own safety but they still spoke of the good news of his resurrection with them and word began to spread far beyond Jerusalem. Philip went to Samaria, a country beyond Israel whose people were traditionally seen as hostile by Orthodox Jews, but he had a huge impact there and a large number of Samaritans had become believers.

However, he was then told to go on the desert road to Gaza – but what if Philip had wanted to stay where he was being so well received and where so many lives were being changed? Nevertheless, Philip did as directed and there he found an Ethiopian eunuch, a man returning from Jerusalem where he was not allowed to worship in the Temple because of what had been physically done to him. This spiritually hungry man would have travelled about 2,500 miles from Ethiopia on his journey but, despite his high status as a Treasury official, he is nameless, marginalised and excluded, although he probably had guards or servants with him. However, the eunuch was reading the above words from Isaiah that must have resonated with him, given his rejection from the Temple and his inability to have children.

This is a passage now traditionally read on Good Friday and Philip begins to explain Isaiah’s words to the eunuch, who responds wholeheartedly to the Good News he then hears about Jesus. When he asks to be baptised, Philip responds and both men go into the water there and then, after which Philip is taken away and the eunuch goes on his way rejoicing. The immediate response of them both leads to the inclusion of one so isolated and excluded from the Temple but now brought into the fold because of this encounter with the One who is called the Lamb of God, as well as being the Good Shepherd seeking the lost and stragglers in the flock.

I see this in a different way this year following my experience with Baahney, the newborn lamb of which I wrote last week. At first he couldn’t hold up his head or walk but, after colostrum, was trying to stand up and, in Melangell’s valley, seemed to deserve a chance. Baahney was such a brave creature, learning how to hold his head up properly and stand unaided, walking a few steps and beginning to make progress. However, on his fourth night, he became unwell and eventually died – roughly 10% of lambs don’t survive and the struggle for life is sometimes too much. In his short life, Baahney taught me a lot and a photo of him standing up for himself is below. 

Jesus, the Lamb of God, didn’t stand up for himself in that he didn’t resist going to his death for the sake of the flock whose care he then entrusted to those early followers like Philip. Their response meant that, being originally dispersed for fear of their lives, the Good News spread from Jerusalem to Samaria, to the Ethiopian eunuch and then further afield on the missionary journeys of Paul, Barnabas and others. Hearts were touched, the excluded enfolded and the humiliated restored through those followers of Jesus seeking the lost and marginalised in his name. Ironically, the church today is not always known for welcoming those seeking God’s love or for acting promptly like Philip in such an unusual situation. However, one of the hopeful things about the pandemic is that barriers are being broken down, new ways of worshipping online being established and the word is now also bring spread electronically through Zoom, the media and the unity sought in enforced separation. Mindful of the terrible suffering in India and elsewhere, may that also help to raise awareness and resources for those still fighting the pandemic with so few resources and such overwhelming cases.

An Ethiopian eunuch reading aloud from Isaiah on the desert road to Gaza sounds an unlikely scenario – but then who would ever have thought that Jesus would be born in a cattle shed? Through the Magi, whose travels to Bethlehem and back may have taken them as long as two years, it was already clear then that God’s love is for all people, Gentiles as well as Jews. On a journey without being sure where he was going, Philip had the courage to reach out in God’s name to the eunuch who, ethnically, physically and geographically, represents those who are far off and very different to himself as he travels in his carriage along the desert road to Gaza. A wonderful thing then happened as death, fear and isolation gave way to a new way of life, inclusion and greater understanding.

That can be our hope too as the UK now emerges from restriction without being sure of the way ahead. May Philip’s example of reaching out in God’s name to the eunuch enable us to do the same to those we encounter or become aware of. When we do, may we also discover like the eunuch that we can begin to go on our way rejoicing too!

With my prayers,

Sunday reflection

Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Easter.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me.” Jesus, in today’s Gospel, John 10:11-18.

“The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty.” Abraham Lincoln.
Today is the fourth Sunday of Easter, known as Good Shepherd Sunday because of the Gospel reading where Jesus declares himself to be the Good Shepherd willing to lay down his life for the sheep. Jesus is also called the lamb of God by John the Baptist and, in this sheep rearing valley with its many sheep and lambs, St Melangell’s shrine reflects this. The crockets, or hook-shaped decorations near the top of the shrine, remind some people of the profile of a sheep’s head, so appropriate in a place that has provided pastoral care, sanctuary and healing for so many pilgrims over the years.
However, in the time of Jesus, shepherds and hirelings were seen very differently from today. Shepherds then lived harsh, unclean lives which often kept them away from their families and meant that they would not be able to keep the Jewish ritual and dietary laws so they were often shunned by religious people. The sheep were wiry creatures hard to distinguish from goats and it was difficult sometimes to provide food or water whilst attacks from wild animals, theft and injury meant that the work was sometimes dangerous too. So, by calling himself the Good Shepherd, Jesus is saying that he’s prepared to leave the respectable comfort of those who lead upright lives to go out to the edges of society to seek the lost or the stragglers and confront danger in doing so if necessary. Being a good shepherd then meant leaving safe places, running the risk of religious disapproval and facing hardship – which Jesus did throughout his ministry. 
His example contrasts with a church that has sometimes lost its way and is not always welcoming of those on the margins but the pandemic is making many people rethink what it means to be church today and to explore new ways of following the Good Shepherd. There are many ways of getting to know and be known by him as I realised recently when a flock of sheep and lambs raced after their good shepherd’s vehicle, knowing that he was bringing their food – their delight and bleating was wonderful!
Perhaps, amidst the challenges of the pandemic, it’s easy to have lost sight of our zest for life and to have become understandably worried by the dangers around and the loss of liberty. Lincoln’s words above remind us that much ahead will need reassessing and exploring but joy and hope will return in time when we listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice and realise afresh the resurrection truth of what he said this Eastertide.
Meanwhile, I see all this in a different way having on my lap a poorly newborn lamb and being liberally spattered throughout last night with what it produced and the milk it needed. My labradoodle, Barney, sadly having to be put to sleep recently means that the Guardian of the Guardian is no longer around to shepherd me or warn me of danger as he sometimes did. However, the blanket seen in the photo was his and it’s now giving warmth and comfort to this tiny creature who may not survive but might be able to return to the flock if it does. So, this Good Shepherd Sunday, I thought there was only one name for the lamb in these circumstances: Baaarney!
With my prayers,
Christine, Guardian. 

May services

The Shrine Church and Centre of St Melangell – May Services

May 27th is the feast day of St Melangell and, this year, although restrictions are easing, the main celebrations will be online as this tiny church can’t accommodate at a 2m distance the numbers of people likely to arrive. As we have only one door and no windows that open, it’s also not possible to provide a one-way system or aerate the building well. So, to reduce the risk that could occur, it’s suggested that the church will be open for said services only and for those who want to say a prayer but that the website is used to mark reminiscences of previous services, memories of visits or thoughts about Melangell as well as a prayer about the saint that people might like to write. Please contact the website at to be involved with this – it would be good to have some local stories there as well as the wider comments that are received.

 Meanwhile, anyone wanting to attend must book beforehand via or 01691 860408 as seating will be limited while the current restrictions apply. Face masks will need to be worn in accordance with the Welsh Government’s guidance and all services will be held according to the restrictions required by the Church in Wales. The centre and accommodation remain closed currently but if the advice changes, please contact the website for up to date information.

May Services in Church:

Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 2nd, 3pm: Service of reflection.

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 9th, 3pm: Service of reflection.

Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 16th, 3pm: Service of reflection.

Pentecost, May 23rd, 3pm: Service of reflection.

Feast day of St Melangell, 27th May, noon: Said Holy Eucharist in church.

Trinity Sunday, May 30th, 3pm: Service of reflection.

As well as these services, there is a Zoom discussion and online worship group on Thursdays at 11am for those who are unable to come to church yet.

For further information, please contact the Guardian as above.

Melangell must have seen great changes in her lifetime – as her feast day is celebrated once more, and in such a simple way, thanks be for the steadfast woman who left the riches of a wealthy lifestyle to live so modestly in this valley and whose legacy is still evident today.

With my prayers,

Christine, Guardian.

Sunday reflection

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter.
Please note that, if you would like to hear the song mentioned in this reflection, this link will take you to it:

“As they talked, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognising him.” From Luke 24:13-48.

“For a man like no other it was a funeral like no other…. There was no mistaking the Duke of Edinburgh’s hand in every detail.” Gordon Raynor, journalist.

“Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues,
We’re on the road to nowhere – let’s find out where it goes.
It might be a ladder to the stars, who knows?” Song by Port Isaacs Fisherman’s Choir.

Today’s reading involves two of the downcast followers of Jesus walking along the road to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem, that first Easter Day. They are not disciples – the Eleven remained in Jerusalem – and so perhaps had not spent as much time with him but, being joined by Jesus, they are unable to recognise him. They tell him everything that has happened since his arrest and death and, as they travel, Jesus then explains the scriptures to them to help them understand what is happening. Still they don’t realise that it’s him and it’s only when he’s invited in to share a meal with them that they recognise Jesus as he breaks bread in that unmistakeable way and they can comprehend the reality before them. Until then, their grief and confusion overwhelmed them but, now, their burning hearts spur them into action and they completely change their plans. Immediately, although it’s getting late, they set out to return to Jerusalem where they find the disciples and what has happened is shared. Jesus is alive and recognised by his actions.

Yesterday, at the funeral of Prince Philip, members of his families also set out on a sorrowful journey in Windsor as they accompanied him on his last journey to rest in St George’s Chapel. But this was a royal funeral like no other and details important to the Duke of Edinburgh left an unmistakeable sign of his service, character and priorities despite the solemnity of the occasion. The representatives  of the Armed Forces, the adapted Landrover bearing his coffin with his cap and sword from his days in the Navy, as well as his carriage with his hat, gloves and sugar lumps for his horses and the service itself had clearly been carefully planned to reflect Prince Philip’s interests. Only thirty distanced people could be present due to the Coronavirus restrictions and many spoke later of the balm this and the carefully planned service with its words of faith and beautiful music must have brought to the hearts also aching from death, grief and loneliness during the pandemic as millions of others watched through the media. Events since his death seem to have created a new perception of Prince Philip who had sometimes been seen by some as cantankerous and difficult but who, in the stories shared about him and his preparation for his funeral, was also a man of thought, care and detail.

Perhaps, as we travel through life, we may need to look more carefully at the details of what’s before us as well as the broader picture, also keeping a more open mind about the people we meet and the assessments we make of them. Sometimes, events mean that we can’t see things clearly and, like those two unnamed people on the road to Emmaus, we may need to listen to those we meet who may broaden our horizons or help us understand more through unmistakeable gestures and actions. Perhaps, like the Cornish choir’s song, we may think we’re on the road to nowhere when, actually, it may be a ladder to another situation – who knows? Or perhaps we may not even be seeking the one who may be alongside us without us noticing or realising – as TS Eliot put it in The Waste Land:
Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?

Who indeed?

With my prayers,

Christine, Guardian.

Sunday service

At 3pm on Sunday 18th April 2021, we will be having a service in the Church. 

If you would like to attend, you will need to contact us to book a space, (as physical distancing is vital). 

Best wishes from all at St Melangell’s

Sunday reflection

Reflection for the second Sunday of Easter

Thomas…was not with the disciples when Jesus came….. He said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” From John 20:19-end, NIV.

“Somebody once said about him that he had a questioning faith, as if this was a bad thing, but you’ll never grow spiritually without questions and curiosity.”
The former Bishop of Norwich, Graham James, of Prince Philip.

The man now known as Doubting Thomas got his name because he wasn’t present when the resurrected Jesus came to those frightened disciples hidden away for fear of what might now happen to them. Although they told him Jesus had appeared, Thomas refused to believe until he’d seen for himself, perhaps thinking that they might have seen a ghost or exaggerated what had happened. He told them he must see for himself the marks of the nails and touch the wound caused by the spear. When Jesus returned a week later, Thomas was present and was invited to see and touch the reality standing before him. His needs were answered by Jesus and, after openly wrestling with his doubts, Thomas became the first person to call Jesus not only Lord but God. Later, Thomas took the Gospel to South India, clearly convinced of the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus – he was a man of an enquiring mind, wanting to see and touch reality for himself. Although called the doubter, Thomas was a man who became sure of the good news about Jesus and wanted others to know of it. As Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Through the questioning of Doubting Thomas, the honest man who wanted to find out for himself, Jesus’ word of hope comes down the years to encourage us as we struggle with the issues we face today.

Another man who had a questioning mind was Prince Philip, also the Earl of Merioneth, and the former Bishop of Norwich was convinced of the importance of this to develop a robust and lively faith. As well as the support and service he gave to the Queen and his many charities, the Prince was also known for blunt speaking and the gaffes he sometimes made on his visits. However, he had had a very difficult childhood with his family having to flee Greece in 1922, his father later leaving home and dying at an early age, his mother being in a psychiatric hospital for five years and the death of his sister Cecile’s entire family in a plane crash in 1937. Of the latter, he said, “I thought I would never get over it. It was such a terrible blow.” Prince Philip knew much of loss and death at an early age but Gordonstoun School and service in the Royal Navy gave him a structure on which he built without self pity. It’s clear from the tributes to him that he was a man of vision and action to whom the United Kingdom owes much in the service he gave to so many. Perhaps, in the wake of the mental health crisis now facing so many, his fortitude and example will inspire others to find fresh courage in the face of their own adversity.

Not many people organise their own funeral to the point of customising a Land Rover to carry their coffin and, because of the pandemic, Prince Philip’s funeral will have to be simpler than even he had hoped for. In common with so many others, there will only be thirty members of the Royal Family present due to the current pandemic restrictions. Perhaps that will also bring balm to the souls of those who couldn’t mark the death of their loved one in the way they would have wished or see them before they died like Prince Philip’s family during the last year and while he was in hospital. 
In speaking to schoolboys in Woking in 1947, Prince Philip said, “Let me remind you that the only prize worth winning is a clear conscience at the end of your days that you have lived a useful Christian life.” At the end of his life of service and duty, it’s clear that Prince Philip did this and overcame initial doubts about his role to serve his Queen, country and the Commonwealth with honesty and commitment. Dying during Eastertide, the story of Doubting Thomas is very much part of the Easter hope and transformation the Earl of Merioneth embodied – may the example of both men, so many years apart but sharing some similar characteristics, inspire us to continue the service and dedication they embraced and to do so with enquiring minds. So may God grant to the living, grace; to the departed, rest; to the Church, the Queen, the Commonwealth and humankind, peace and concord. Amen.
With my prayers,

Prayers for the Duke of Edinburgh

God of our lives,
we give thanks for the life of Prince Philip,
for his love of our country,
and for his devotion to duty.
We entrust him now to your love and mercy,
through our Redeemer Jesus Christ. Amen.

Merciful God, be close to all who mourn,
especially The Queen and all members of the Royal Family.
May they know the comfort of your love,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Eternal God, we give thanks for the life of Prince Philip,
founder of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
We remember his vision and imagination,
his interest in young people and his support for them.
Inspire us with the same commitment
to serve friend, neighbour, and stranger alike,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Dawn at St Melangell’s

Dawn at St Melangell’s – the gates and the door are open for worship today as the restrictions begin to ease. May the light of Christ shine this Easter for Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Easter Sunday reflection

Reflection for Easter Sunday

“Simon Peter saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple….went inside. He saw and believed.” From John 20:1-18, NIV.

“I’ve gone from building houses to building hope in people’s lives.” Dan Cant, a carpenter who lost an arm in a car crash and was fitted with a replacement. He is now in training and known as the Bionic Priest-to-be. 

Like so many, I’ve been saddened to see the amount of rubbish being left behind by those celebrating being able to meet up again outdoors, although in a restricted way. Piles of it have been left scattered across parks, beaches and streets as some of the public celebrated release from lockdown but not in the best way. The rubbish could have been taken home or put into the bins available and that did happen sometimes. However, an awful lot was left scattered around for others to deal with, causing further cost to the public purse as well as risk to refuse collectors from broken glass, some  drug use and the hazard of contagion from it. The rubbish needed proper disposal – but it was just left for someone else to deal with it.
That was the case for Jesus, too, who was put to death at Golgotha, just across the Kidron valley from Gehenna, the place where rubbish, waste and even dead bodies were left outside the walls of Jerusalem. It was a place of smells, maggots, death and decay and visible from Golgotha. Jesus, being crucified outside the city wall near that awful place, was mocked by some of those who witnessed this although his death would show all who drew near that there was another of dealing with the refuse, mess and nastiness of life: sacrificial love.
For that reason, the following photo shows a panel shown found dumped in a skip full of rubbish in Nottinghamshire. It was fished out by the skip operator and was sent, via his son, to St Melangell’s. On Good Friday, it was used in part of the Zoom service and, during Holy Eucharist in church today, was put into a place where it will be a reminder that Jesus took upon himself the rubbish and detritus of humanity to show that there can be a new and different way of life. He died to save life and is alive and at work in our world today – his love can’t just be chucked out and thrown away in a rubbish skip even if his effigy can. 
St Melangell’s was open on a restricted basis for the first time today for a said Easter communion and on the altar today was not the usual crucifix but an empty, plain cross as a sign that the suffering and death of Jesus is over. Today, the resurrection prevails and new life begins to emerge both then and now after the pandemic. For this beloved son brings us the hope and trust that death is not the end and that a different way of life is now possible as our lives during the pandemic remind us of what we’ve missed, taken for granted or now realise is important. As lockdown eases, we’ll discover afresh what that means as a new way of living becomes possible and that may involve us asking for God’s help in getting rid of the spiritual rubbish and mess we so often accumulate. What was left in the grave of Jesus was treated carefully and led to belief in the resurrection. That same belief will enable us now to deal carefully with what we no longer need and to dispose of it properly. That’s so for Jesus too, set free from the tomb and the confines of the churches where we sometimes prefer to keep him, now enabling worship through Zoom and the media.
This will not necessarily be a happy Easter as the effects of the pandemic rumble on but it can be a blessed one as, with God’s help, hope begins to be rebuilt while our new way of life develops and we begin to emerge from what confined us. For Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

With my prayers,


Services for Holy Week

The Shrine Church of St Melangell – Services for Holy Week
Please note that, if you wish to use the church for private prayer, be present at any of the Zoom services or attend the Church service on Easter Day, it is essential to book beforehand by contacting

 or ringing 

01691 860408

 It is regretted that, as yet, not all the usual services can be held this Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday, 10am – Zoom service of reflection.
11am: Chrism Mass at St Asaph cathedral by Zoom
Good Friday, 2.15pm: At the Cross, a Zoom service. 
Church open for prayer and reflection according to social distancing. 
Easter Day 10am: said Holy Eucharist according to current guidelines.
3pm Easter Praise – Zoom.
May a blessed Easter be yours as a new way of life begins!
Christine, Guardian.
Holy Week Services from St Asaph Cathedral

A wide range of online worship resources will be available through the Diocesan website and can be accessed here:   

Led by members from across the Teulu Asaph, services include:

• The Palm Sunday Liturgy and Blessing of Palms
• Devotions for the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week led by the Archdeaconries
• The Stations of the Cross
• A Good Friday Service from Hope Street
• Prayer and Meditation for Holy Saturday
• Ceremony of the Easter Light on Saturday evening, live at 19.30.
• An Easter Day Eucharist


Supplementing these diocesan services will be live Cathedral services for the Commemoration of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday evening at 7pm, and the Good Friday Liturgy at 14.00