Sunday reflection

Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent and Dewi Sant

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Jesus, in today’s Gospel Mark 8:31-end. 

“Rejoice always, keep the Faith and your faith and do the little things that you have heard and seen me do.” Dewi Sant, in his final sermon.
“I thank all the volunteers and the health care professionals at the vaccination centres…. just grinding out this victory jab by jab, blow by blow, against this virus.” Prof. Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer.
Today’s Gospel would have been shocking for the disciples as Jesus begins to speak of his suffering and death, which is why Peter reacts so strongly in rebuking him and then finds himself called Satan as a result. Although Peter doesn’t realise it, he’s tempting Jesus to find an easier way rather than follow what God is asking of him. In resisting this, Jesus has to repeat his words on two further occasions (Mark 9:31 and 10:33,34) before the disciples begin to accept what he’s telling them – how hard it must have been for him and them. 
Perhaps it’s hard for us to hear, too, that we can’t have faith on our terms but must also follow in the footsteps of Jesus who walks where it can be so fearful to tread. That may be why, when faced with suffering, it can be tempting blithely to suggest that we all have our cross to bear rather than acknowledging the terrible and overwhelming cost that is sometimes involved. However, the pandemic has meant that suffering, loss and devastation have been inevitable for many people and the cost has been emotionally and financially huge. Self denial has been necessary in the restrictions that have been imposed but, after such a terrible ordeal, now that the vaccines are making a difference there may be hope on the horizon and joy may, in time, result.
That can be hard to hear for those who have been badly affected by Covid 19 and the words of Dewi Sant, “Rejoice always” may be ironic to hear as the pandemic continues today. How can there be rejoicing in such circumstances? 
In his lifetime, David knew times of great challenge in leading a simple life, founding at least a dozen monasteries with a strong emphasis on hard work and making the sick and the poor a priority. Yet he also encouraged the community around him in doing what needed to be done and his words “Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd” – “Do the little things in life” – are still central for many today. 
There are many little things that need to be done as roadmaps for emerging from lockdown are produced and as the Lenten time of inner reflection continues. Not everyone will have choice, power or opportunity to do great things – but many wonderful things can develop from the small. Captain Sir Tom Moore, whose funeral was held yesterday, raised nearly forty million pounds for the NHS by initially setting out just to walk a hundred laps of his garden and perhaps raise one hundred pounds. It was said of him by the commentator that, “He was the character who never intended to be what he became… A reminder that a profoundly ordinary Yorkshire man found an extraordinary way to remind a nation and the world that, even when there is mortality everywhere, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.” 
Faced with the mortality of Jesus, it was too much for Peter initially. Perhaps he and the other disciples were unable to hear that Jesus wasn’t only telling them that he would die but that he would rise again (Mark 8:31) and that those who lost their life for his sake and that of the gospel would save it (8:35). Jesus is giving hope for the future as well as the present and that would later be confirmed on Easter Day but, this time, trust was, understandably, an issue for his followers.
Perhaps that’s so for us too with much still to endure but the resurrection of Jesus, the lives of his followers and the saints like David and Melangell who have shaped the faith that has come to us today show that love and hope will not be defeated, though it may sometimes seem so at the time. Dewi’s challenge to do the little things remains and, during this Lenten time of reflection, perhaps we need also to renew trust in ourselves and to ask whether we are now the character we never intended to become and what little things need to be done in the days ahead.
With my prayers – pob bendith,
Christine, Guardian.

Sunday reflection

Reflection for the first Sunday of Lent

“At once the Spirit sent Jesus out into the desert and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan.” From Mark 1:9-15, NIV.
“I’m safe on Mars. Perseverance will get you anywhere.” Tweet from the NASA rover. 
The news this week that the Perseverance rover had landed safely on Mars was an astonishing feat of technical and scientific brilliance. Despite the perils, the dry and dusty Jezero Crater became its base as the rover now begins a search for signs of life in the remains of this former lake. What amazed me almost as much as its landing was the rover’s words, “I’m safe” – an astounding thing to programme in a robotic machine and also reminiscent of the Biblical I am sayings linking Moses (Ex. 3) and Jesus.
There’s a link between Moses and Jesus regarding temptation too. Moses led the Israelites out of slavery and through the sea into the desert, where temptation and quarrelling awaited them. Jesus, after his baptism by John, was sent by the Spirit into the desert where he also faced temptation, the first in both cases centring on food. The Israelites complained about hunger, which was overcome by manna sufficient for the day (Ex. 16) and echoed in Jesus’ request for daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer. Secondly, they tested God with complaints about water (Ex. 17:2) and thirdly, they worshipped the golden calf they had made at the base of a high mountain rather than worship him. The Israelites gave in to these three temptations whereas Jesus resisted what he faced by quoting scripture from exactly the same stories in the book of Deuteronomy: he overcomes the temptation to turn stones into bread (8:3), refuses the temptation to worship Satan to gain worldly power (6:13-15.) and will not test God by throwing himself off the highest point of the temple (6:16). Having been declared to be the Son of God at his baptism, Jesus is taunted by the words, “If you are the Son of God” yet he is faithful in spite of the subtlety of the temptations he faces. This is only Jesus’ first temptation – Peter later tempts him to avoid the cross (Matthew 16:23) and, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus will struggle with the temptation to avoid the suffering that lies ahead (Luke 22:42-44).

There are many subtle temptations facing us as we continue to endure the desert experience of isolation and lockdown during the pandemic. Confronted with the example of Jesus, whose experience in the wilderness enables him to overcome temptation, and that of the Israelites who fail to resist it, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised that the lengthy solitude of lockdown may bring out the best and the worst in us – especially when trying to work out the various ‘ifs’ that lie ahead if the schools go back, if the economy improves, if holidays become possible……. It may be a comfort to know that Jesus, in his humanity, knows what it’s like as temptation is faced for this is no robot for whom temptation was not a real issue. To overcome temptation in any wilderness situation takes time, effort and will – perseverance is key, for NASA rovers and humans alike! 

With my prayers,
Christine, Guardian. 

Reflection for the start of Lent

Reflection for the start of Lent

It’s now Lent in the church year, the time recalling the forty days and nights Jesus spent living very simply in the wilderness, facing temptations and reflecting on his future after his baptism. Following his example, Lent was traditionally when people fasted, gave up things that tempted them and reflected on their journey through life. Intended to strengthen the spiritual aspects of faith, it sometimes became just a battle with food and ended in disappointment when people quickly gave up as the biscuits won or excuses were made. I still remember the story of a child being asked by her mum to hull some strawberries while she went out. Knowing that her daughter loved eating them, her mother told her to turn her back if the devil tempted her to eat the berries. On return, seeing the telltale stains around her mouth, her mum asked why she hadn’t done this. The daughter replied that she had turned her back on him, but the devil had then pushed her onto the strawberries and made her eat them!

This Lent, whether we believe in the devil or not, so much has already had to be given up through being in lockdown and many people have had to live without seeing their family and friends or doing what they want to do when they want to do it. Realising that we can’t always have our own way or liberty can highlight how much we take for granted and how fortunate we may have previously been. However, this has been going on for much longer than forty days and part of the temptation has been to ignore the restrictions or become dispirited. For many, it’s been a desert experience of profound loss and the way ahead uncertain so, rather than only give things up for Lent this year at an already harrowing time, why not also take on something that will create fresh hope as the vaccines are given and a new, safer way of life becomes a possibility? 

There are many online and media resources currently available for doing this but one local possibility could be using the new booklet about Welsh saints which includes Melangell. It’s a bilingual study resource which has been developed by the Methodist Church’s Learning Network Cymru Wales: Pilgrimage in Wales – walking with the saints. It focuses on the theme of pilgrimage and is based on the lives of four of the best-known Welsh saints, David, Winefride, Illtud and Melangell. Suitable for Lent, it can be downloaded without charge from and the booklet is helpful for Zoom discussion groups as well as individual use. It’s also available as a free A5 size paper booklet by emailing 

Wherever your journey takes you this Lent, may the desert experience brought by the pandemic teach us that, in following in the footsteps of Jesus and the saints down the ages, the wilderness can be fruitful when we learn how to survive in it and resist the easy temptations that are part of it. For that reason, the Lenten altar at St Melangell’s carries the traditional purple array, sackcloth and ashes as a sign of repentance and regret – but there is also a burning candle and some snowdrops as a sign of light and blessing. The loss and cost has been great but the new life bursting out in the flowers, trees and beauty all around us after the dearth of winter also testifies to re-creation and fresh hope – whether or not we can find the Lenten discipline to persevere. God bless us all in our wandering, wondering and seeking of the way ahead.

With my prayers,
Christine, Guardian.

Sunday reflection

Reflection for Transfiguration Sunday, the Sunday before Lent.
“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” From Mark 9:2-9.
“The Love that dances at the heart of things
Shone out upon us from a human face.” From ‘Transfiguration’,  poem by Malcolm Guite.

“Happy Valentine’s to all of you in love and all of you looking for love. Never lose the faith!” Jane McCubbin, BBC reporter.

Today is Transfiguration Sunday, when Jesus is irradiated with God’s love in a way that dazzles as well as terrifies those with him. It’s also Valentine’s Day, when lovers express their feelings with cards and gifts – often at great cost, emotionally and financially. The custom originated as a feast day to honour the third century Christian martyr who was decapitated and its connection with love may have begun through Chaucer declaring that birds mated then: “For this was on seynt Volantynys day. Whan euery Byrd comyth there to chese his make.” From ‘Parlement of Foules’.
Whether marking beheading or betrothing, with the price of flowers up by at least 10% due to Brexit as well as the pandemic and isolation still meaning that many can’t be with those they care for, this is a costly time for lovers. But love is often challenging: when a prison chaplain, I recall one inmate complaining that his wife’s unreasonable behaviour had put him in prison. She had come home early and they’d had a fight when she caught him in bed with another woman – yet he indignantly protested that she should have been grateful that he was loving the family, the other woman being her mother! 
The true price of love has been all too visible throughout this year with NHS, key workers and volunteers risking their own safety to care for others, the isolation and loneliness of so many people and the loss of loved ones and livelihoods. Mental health and domestic abuse concerns with disruption to education and the economy as well as the growth of scams have resulted but so has the realisation of what is important, the development of new ways of communicating, exercising and worshipping through technology and the growth of creativity and humour. The sacrifice being endured is not in vain as infections are now falling sharply, hospitalisation is lower and death rates are beginning to fall. Just as love shines from the face of Jesus in Guite’s poem, showing the costly love of God for all humanity, so it shines in the faces of those who glimpse the power of love being revealed in so many ways. That doesn’t have to be shown by expensive flowers or gifts, but in the response to this transfiguring love that could enable the creation of a more loving and appreciative way of life now and in the new way of life when we emerge from lockdown. The cost of that is priceless – but, as we can all play our part in it, so is the hope. 
With my prayers,

New bilingual booklet featuring St Melangell

Available for free download here or via the links to those who authored it below.

Pererindod yng Nghymru – cerdded gyda’r saint

Adnodd astudio dwyieithog newydd gan dîm Rhwydwaith Dysgu Cymru yr Eglwys Fethodistaidd ar y thema pererindod ac yn seiliedig ar bedwar o’n seintiau mwyaf adnabyddus, Dewi, Gwenfrewi, Illtud a Melangell. Mae wedi ei lunio ar gyfer grwpiau trafod neu ddefnydd personol ac yn addas i’w ddefnyddio adeg y Grawys. Gellir ei lawrlwytho o ac mae hefyd ar gael fel llyfryn maint A5 am ddim trwy ebostio


Pilgrimage in Wales – walking with the saints

A new bilingual study resource from the Methodist Church’s Learning Network Cymru Wales team on the theme of pilgrimage and based on four of our best-known saints, Dewi, Gwenfrewi, Illtud and Melangell. It is designed for discussion groups or personal use and is suitable for use during Lent. It can be downloaded from and is also available in a free A5 size booklet form by emailing

Sunday reflection

Reflection for Creation Sunday

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made….. The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.”  From John 1:1-14.
“Clergymen are at the heart of this country’s history. Why else do the novels of Anthony Trollope and programmes such as the Vicar of Dibley strike such a chord with us? They are pillars of the community, a bit like Captain Tom in his way.” Amanda Platell.
Who needs Netflix?” Sir Chris Hoy on Handforth Parish Council’s Zoom meeting on UTube.
Today, the Church in Wales marks Creation Sunday and in the valley here, the shrubs and flowers in bud, the birdsong and the pregnant mud-splattered sheep are testament to the renewal of creation after the dearth of winter. In the midst of the pandemic, the new life in creation and the anticipation of the vaccines seems to be bringing hope to those whose spirits have been so low during this crisis as we begin to emerge from it.
John’s Gospel, that also of Christmas Day, reminds us that the Word came to us from God and is at the heart of all creation. The remarkable creation of the various vaccines in so short a time is a tribute in itself to the scientists and technicians who work so closely with living organisms often only visible under a microscope and millions now await the word to go for their vaccine and begin to develop greater immunity to the virus and its consequences. 
The word vaccine itself also reminds us of the links with creation around us, originating from the Latin word for cow, vacca, and first used by Edward Jenner in 1798 during his work with cowpox to prevent smallpox. Jenner’s initial realisation and work gave rise to what is happening today as humanity builds on the legacy of the experience and learning of those gone before us. It’s a costly business, as seen this week in the irony that, having raised so many millions of pounds for the NHS during this time, Captain Sir Tom then died of the virus himself. However, the healing power of nature and gardens has long been known and one of the legacies of his fundraising is the creation of healing gardens and quiet places within hospitals, care homes and institutions, to bring balm for the soul as well as the body. As word of Captain Sir Tom’s death spread, amongst the sadness was also great celebration for all that this frail yet remarkable man achieved during his one hundredth year and for what is now being created because of it. 
Not all saluted what happened, though, as the controversial comments of a cleric in London indicated before his post was removed. In commenting on what he wrote, Amanda Platell mentioned fictional clergy but the actual scientists, politicians, NHS and key workers who are pillars of the community all have a real effect on our lives as well the committees and administrators who are creating schedules and organising the rollout. As the way ahead becomes clearer due to the creation of the vaccines, each of us will have to battle individually with the new way of life that is being created by the pandemic to do what we can to create hope, truth and wellbeing where we are. That is a hard task – and a great challenge lies before us all, not least those attending the Zoom meetings of Handforth Parish Council!
With my prayers,

Reflection for Candlemas

Reflection for Candlemas

“Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation……” Simeon, in Luke 2:22-40, NIV.

“So we begin our journey of hope, light and new beginnings….” Paul Elliott, Poet.
Today marks the Presentation of Christ, transferred from 2nd February, which is also known as Candlemas. When Simeon, the devout old man in the Temple, sees the baby Jesus, he takes him in his arms and declares him to be the light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. Over time, it became the custom in churches to light a central candle to represent this and to bless all the candles there so that those who saw that outer light would be reminded of the inner vision. The snowdrops which appear around this time are often called nature’s candles as the darkness of winter gradually gives way to the light of spring and my Welsh father always picked a snowdrop at Candlemas to bring into the house as a sign of this. He also used to quote:
If Candlemas day be fair and bright, winter will have a second flight.
If Candlemas day be dull with rain, winter will not come again. 
We’ll see on Tuesday what happens and whether the saying about the weather will be right this year!
The presentation of Jesus in the Temple has great significance, not least because of the encounter between the generations. The baby and his parents, one younger and one older, meet two aged people, Simeon and Anna, as they come to honour the Law and rituals of their faith. In the encounter, both help each other understand more about themselves. Faithful Simeon, who knows that he won’t die until he had seen the Christ, realises that Jesus is what he has been waiting for and that his end is near. As he prays words that are still said at Evening Prayer, the Nunc Dimittis, he blesses Mary and Joseph but also tells Mary that her baby will cause the falling and rising of many and that a sword will pierce her own soul, too. What a thing to say to a new mum! 
Although her words aren’t recorded, Anna then also gives thanks to God and speaks about the child’s future. Luke tells us that she never leaves the temple, fasting, praying and worshipping night and day. Both Simeon and Anna are faithful, active people who see with the eyes of the heart and recognise God’s purposes, which may enable the new parents to understand more than perhaps they do. Luke says earlier in his Gospel that, after the events of Jesus’ birth, Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19, NIV. Perhaps Simeon and Anna’s words now did not unduly surprise her but gave Mary more food for thought as she and Joseph then began their journey of light and new beginnings to Nazareth where Jesus grows up. 
Today, because of the pandemic, older people have been asked to stay at home or self isolate and are often seen as vulnerable or frail. That may be sometimes the case – though by no means always! The wisdom, experience and humour of that generation has been inspirational to many, helping others to realise that this pandemic, too, will pass. Equally, the strength and willingness of some younger people has enabled shopping to arrive or journeys be made to have the vaccine, whilst grandchildren may bring hope for the future whatever the present troubles. 
Each generation needs the others and, as we see this happening in the lives of Simeon and Anna as well as Joseph and Mary, may prayer enable us to ask for God’s help in our generation and to draw strength from their example – and that of the seemingly delicate but actually robust snowdrop!
With my prayers, Christine

Sunday reflection

Today’s reflection is from the Grandchamp Community, a monastic community of about 50 sisters who come from different churches, countries and cultures. Evolving in the early 1930s and based initially in Switzerland, the sisters welcomed German and Dutch women into the community shortly after the Second World War, committing themselves to working for reconciliation as well as unity: “Ecumenical prayer, prayer for unity, was there at the heart of the life of our community from the start, and that is clearly the work of the Holy Spirit.” (Sister Minke)
In adopting the Rule of the ecumenical Taizé Community in 1952, the sisters developed this outreach and have devised this year’s resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. So, rather than write a separate reflection, theirs for Day 7 follows as a means of establishing common ground. Perhaps you could light a candle where you are to add to those in the photo as a sign of the unity and hope that can be found despite the divisions that still remain in the body of Christ and the world we all share. 
With my prayers,
Christine, Shrine Guardian
Prayer for Christian Unity.
Growing in unity

“I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn 15:5a)
1 Cor 1:10-13; 3:21-23 Is Christ divided?
Jn 17:20-23 As you and I are one

On the eve of his death, Jesus prayed for the unity of those the Father gave him: “that they may all be one … so that the world may believe”. Joined to him, as a branch is to the vine, we share the same sap that circulates among us and vitalizes us.

Each tradition seeks to lead us to the heart of our faith: communion with God, through Christ, in the Spirit. The more we live this communion, the more we are connected to other Christians and to all of humanity. Paul warns us against an attitude that had already threatened the unity of the first Christians: absolutizing one’s own tradition to the detriment of the unity of the body of Christ. Differences then become divisive instead of mutually enriching. Paul had a very broad vision: “All are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God” (1 Cor 3:22-23).

Christ’s will commits us to a path of unity and reconciliation. It also commits us to unite our prayer to his: “that they may all be one. . .so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).

“Never resign yourself to the scandal of the separation of Christians who so readily profess love for their neighbour, and yet remain divided. Make the unity of the body of Christ your passionate concern.” The Rule of Taizé.

Holy Spirit, vivifying fire and gentle breath, come and abide in us. Renew in us the passion for unity so that we may live in awareness of the bond that unites us in you. May all who have put on Christ at their Baptism unite and bear witness together to the hope that sustains them. Amen.

Sunday reflection

Reflection for the Second Sunday of Epiphany
Finding Philip, Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”……. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one……. Come and see.” From today’s Gospel, John 1:43-51, NIV.
“I went there by accident when a friend suggested… outing to this extraordinary place…. I found myself walking gently on holy ground in my own land.” Martin Palmer, speaking of his visit to St Melangell’s.
St Melangell, her church and the valley were part of a Radio 4 programme on January 10th called “Sunday Worship” and it’s available on BBC sounds if anyone who missed it would like to hear it. Presented by Martin Palmer, he said that a friend had influenced his decision to come to this valley and that he found, unexpectedly, holy ground here. His reminiscence reminded me of a much earlier incident when, in today’s Gospel, Philip invites Nathanael to come and see Jesus of Nazareth – and Nathanael does, although he’s initially cynical. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” he asks, just as Martin Palmer also thought this to be, “a small, lovely but also in many ways ordinary valley”. Both, however, found more than they had anticipated being revealed to them and unexpectedly encountered holiness when they allowed themselves to be influenced by invitations from those around them, Nathanael in having a powerful conversation with Jesus and Martin in finding holy ground in this valley.
People we know can exercise a huge influence on us, in all sorts of ways, just as we can affect them too. Looking back in life, it may be that there are various times when we now realise that something significant was revealed – or not – because we followed, or perhaps refused, the call: “Come and see.” 
As the challenges of the pandemic continue, many people are being asked to come and see NHS personnel to have their vaccination – and some amazing things are happening when they do. Who would ever have thought that Salisbury cathedral, amongst others, would be the setting for a mass vaccination centre, with organ music playing as people followed others and waited their turn? Yet, it happened and those present found themselves, literally, on holy ground and being given hope for the future in a beautiful place where present needs are being served by those whose past vision and service created the reality of the hallowed building itself. 
Many challenges still lie ahead and, from what’s happened recently in America, it’s clear that hallowed places can be the focus of many differing emotions and perceptions and that many followers often see things very differently. Whatever we’re looking at, and wherever we are, we all have our part to play as we participate in the battle against Covid-19 and daily decide whether or not to respond to Jesus’ call to “Follow me”. Prayer is a good way of listening for his voice and, as a new Presidency begins this week, America and her peoples are an important focus for prayer and the call of the Prince of Peace. 
Perhaps one of the blessings of the ongoing situation is that, confined to our homes and local areas as many are, we may have the time and opportunity to be able to see more clearly than usual the heritage, beauty and needs that, amongst the ordinary things of life, are right here on our doorstep and, literally, often overlooked. When, despite it all, we find the will to come and see may we, like Nathanael, Martin and countless others, find that we, too, are unexpectedly on holy ground, finding “heaven in ordinary….the soul’s blood….something understood.” George Herbert: Prayer (1)
With my prayers,
Shrine Guardian.

Llythyr Bugeiliol Ionawr 2021 January Pastoral Letter


To the members of the Family of St Asaph

A Pastoral Letter for the New Year, January 2021

We’re familiar, I suspect, with the story of the twelve disciples, who are an integral part of the story of Jesus in the Gospels. As sure as Snow White belongs with the Seven Dwarfs, so Jesus belongs with the twelve, if that isn’t too trivialising a thing to say. What is so fascinating in the Gospels is what a motley band the disciples are. They make a mess of things, they misunderstand, they question, they fail to believe and to follow. Over the course of the ministry of Jesus, however, they are forged into apostles, and Jesus is not afraid at his ascension to put the whole business of the Gospel of Salvation and the Church into their hands.

I was challenged before Christmas when someone said to me that they didn’t think that Christians today thought of themselves as disciples, and that people didn’t understand what a disciple was. It was a name which belonged in the Bible, but was hardly a contemporary description of faith, they said.

For me, the fundamental question of faith is whether I am a disciple. Faith is not an abstract exercise of the mind, it is how it affects my daily life. A disciple is one who learns: it is clearer in the Welsh, where disciple and pupil are the same word: disgybl. To be a Christian is to lay one’s life on the line, and to follow Jesus. We see the “crisis” of discipleship when Jesus calls the twelve – peremptorily – from their fishing or their tax collection or their political activism. He just turns up, it appears, and issues the invitation (we might be better saying “command”.) And they go with him, they leave their work, they leave their families, they set out on a journey from which, to tell the truth, they never return, and yet they come truly home. The gospels even tell us about one occasion when someone said “no”: a rich young aristocrat, who just couldn’t tear himself away from the privileges of his wealth (Mark. 10.17-27).

Jesus, I’m afraid, doesn’t call us to stay where we are, in the sense of saying our creeds with meaning, but otherwise going about our lives. He calls us to set out on a journey, away from the familiar, to become larger than we are, greater in spirit, holier in life, loving in service. Nor does he make it easy, “If anyone does want to come after me,” he says in Luke 9.23, “they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and so follow me.”

Are we frightened by this? Was it enough to be baptised or confirmed in the past, so that we need not heed the call that comes today or tomorrow, to go somewhere we don’t expect and to learn something new about the real meaning of life? This is what it is to be a Christian: to learn what God has in store for us and to follow it, to be a disciple. The disciples didn’t find following Jesus easy, and indeed, the Gospel according to John tells us that on one occasion Jesus’ teaching was so demanding that a lot of people gave up, and left. (John chapter 6, particularly v.66 ff) Jesus has to turn to the twelve, and say: “Are you lot off as well?” It is good old Simon Peter who replies on this occasion: “Where else could we go?”, he says, “You are the one who has the words which give eternal life.”

And that’s the promise – to follow Jesus, to go on the unexpected journey, is to discover the riches of a life beyond compare, beyond blessing. “He who would true valour see, let him come hither,” wrote John Bunyan in the seventeenth century. “One here will constant be, come wind, come weather. There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent his first avowed intent: to be a pilgrim.” Pilgrim follower, disciple. Are you a disciple? I can think of no better vocation, no more exciting journey in 2021 than to get up, shake off the lethargy or the disgruntlement, and to go through the door of life, and look to Jesus, who stretches his hand towards us, and for us to say to him: “Here I am, and where you lead, I will follow.”

Bishop Gregory



At aelodau Teulu Asaph

Llythyr Bugeiliol ar gyfer y Flwyddyn Newydd, Ionawr 2021

Rwy’n siŵr ein bod yn gyfarwydd gyda hanes y deuddeg disgybl, sy’n rhan annatod o hanes Iesu yn yr Efengylau. Cyn sicred â bod Eira Wen yn perthyn i’r Saith Corrach, mae Iesu hefyd yn perthyn i’r deuddeg, os nad yw hynny’n ddywediad braidd yn ddifrïol. Yr hyn sydd mor gyfareddol yn yr Efengylau yw criw mor frith yw’r disgyblion. Maen nhw’n gwneud llanastr o bethau, yn camddeall, maen nhw’n amau, maen nhw’n methu credu na dilyn. Ond, dros gyfnod gweinidogaeth Iesu, maen nhw’n cael eu ffurfio’n apostolion ac nid yw Iesu’n ofni, adeg ei ddyrchafael, gosod yr holl fusnes o Efengyl Iachawdwriaeth a’r Eglwys yn eu dwylo. Cefais fy herio cyn y Nadolig pan ddywedodd rhywun wrthyf nad oedd yn meddwl fod Cristnogion heddiw yn ystyried eu hunain yn ddisgyblion ac nad oedd pobl yn deall beth oedd disgybl. Mae’n enw sy’n perthyn i’r Beibl, ond digon o waith ei fod yn ddisgrifiad cyfoes o ffydd, meddai. I mi, cwestiwn sylfaenol o ffydd yw a ydw i’n ddisgybl. Nid ymarfer damcaniaethol o’r meddwl yw ffydd, mae sut y mae’n effeithio ar fy mywyd pob dydd. Mae disgybl yn un sy’n dysgu: mae’r Gymraeg yn gliriach, mae’r un gair ‘disgybl’ yn golygu’r ddau air Saesneg ‘disciple’ a ‘pupil’. Bod yn Gristion yw cymryd eich bywyd yn eich dwylo a dilyn Iesu. Roedd ‘argyfwng’ disgyblaeth i’w weld pan alwodd Iesu’r deuddeg – yn ddirybudd – o’u gwaith yn pysgota neu’n casglu trethu neu’n gwleidydda. Mae’n ymddangos ac yn gwahodd (neu, efallai, yn “gorchymyn”.) Ac maen nhw’n ei ganlyn, maen nhw’n gadael eu gwaith, yn gadael eu teuluoedd ac yn cychwyn ar daith pen draw iddi, ac eto, maen nhw, mewn gwirionedd, roedden nhw wedi cyrraedd gartref. Mae’r efengylau hyd yn oed yn sôn wrthym am un achlysur pan ddywedodd rhywun “na”: uchelwr ifanc, cyfoethog, nad oedd yn gallu diosg breintiau ei gyfoeth (Marc: 10.17-27). Ond, mae arna i ofn, nid ein galw i aros yn ein hunfan y mae Iesu, nid i ddweud ein credoau dan deimlad ac, fel arall, i fyw ein bywydau yn ôl ein harfer. Mae’n ein galw i gychwyn ar daith, i ffwrdd o’r cyfarwydd, i ddod yn fwy nag yr ydym ni, i dyfu yn yr ysbryd, yn fwy sanctaidd mewn bywyd, yn gariadus mewn gwasanaeth. Nid yw ychwaith yn ei gwneud hyn yn hawdd i ni, “Os myn neb ddod ar fy ôl i,” meddai yn Luc 9:23, “rhaid iddo ymwadu ag ef ei hun a chodi ei groes bob dydd a’m canlyn i.” A yw hyn yn codi ofn arnom ni? A oedd derbyn bedydd neu fedydd esgob yn y gorffennol yn ddigon fel na fyddai raid i ni dalu sylw i’r alwad sy’n dod heddiw neu yfory, i fynd i rywle anghyfarwydd ac i ddysgu rhywbeth newydd am ystyr bywyd mewn gwirionedd? Dyma beth yw bod yn Gristion: dysgu beth sydd gan Dduw ar ein cyfer ni a’i ddilyn, bod yn ddisgybl. Doedd hi ddim yn hawdd i’r disgyblion ddilyn Iesu, yn wir, mae’n dweud yn un man yn yr Efengyl yn ôl Ioan fod dysgeidiaeth Iesu’n gofyn cymaint nes bod llawer o bobl yn rhoi’r gorau iddi ac yn gadael. (Ioan pennod 6, yn benodol a.66 ff) Mae Iesu’n gorfod troi at y deuddeg a dweud: “Ydych chi i gyd yn gadael hefyd?” Yr hen Seimon Pedr sy’n ymateb y tro yma: “Ble arall allen ni fynd?” meddai, ‘Ti wy’r un gyda’r geiriau sy’n rhoi bywyd tragwyddol.” A dyna’r addewid – dilyn Iesu, mynd ar y daith annisgwyl, darganfod cyfoeth bywyd nad oes ei debyg, y tu hwnt i fendith. Fel y dywedodd John Bunyan yn yr ail ganrif ar bymtheg “A fynno ddewrder gwir, o deued yma. Mae un o ddeil ei dir ar law a hindda. Ni all temtasiwn gref ei ddigalonni ef i ado llwybrau’r nef, y gwir bererin.” Pererin dilynwr, disgybl. Ydych chi’n ddisgybl? Alla i ddim meddwl am well galwedigaeth, nac am daith fwy cyffrous yn 2021, na chodi, diosg y syrthni neu’r anfodlonrwydd a mynd trwy ddrws bywyd, edrych at Iesu, sy’n ymestyn ei law, a dweud wrtho: “Dyma fi, a ble bynnag y byddi di’n arwain, byddaf i’n dilyn.”

Esgob Gregory