Holidays…

It’s nice to have a change of scene every once in a while – this is why I’m writing from Cardiff, rather than my home town or university city. It also means I’m writing on my phone. Anyway.

Llandaff Cathedral is a Norman church on a 6th century Christian site. It was partially destroyed in WW2  a German mine, but was restored in the 1950s. It’s a really beautiful cathedral, although it seemed relatively small.

It was a surprise, however, to find it near the bottom of a hill, with only its spires visible from the road at the top. Many churches and cathedrals are more prominent in the landscape. St Albans Cathedral (taking the one closest to home as my example, of course…) is sat on top of quite a steep hill. Others are even more prominent, with protected sight lines. In York, you can’t even build higher than the Minster.

According to Wikipedia (everyone’s favourite source, I know), the original church in Llandaff was built near a ford of the river Taff, which runs through Cardiff. Which may explain why it’s not so prominent.

But in fact I think I prefer it more secluded. It’s a very peaceful place. A couple of miles up the river from the hustle and bustle of the city, and set halfway down a hill, it’s easy for me to see why someone, 15 centuries ago, decided to build a Church.

Rest and Sleep

I go to bed and sleep in peace, because, Lord, only you keep me safe.” – Psalm 4:8

I really should be asleep right now.

But I am not.

It is quiet, and comfortable.

I can be calm, and reflect on God’s great blessings. On His word, on everything He has provided.

My summer so far has not been very productive. I would generally describe myself as having quite a calm temperament, but I need things to do. Otherwise I can snap. I am trying to use this opportunity to learn more about God, although even with so much free time, there are so many distractions.

Knowing that, in God, I can find rest and safety, Psalm 4 seemed appropriate. This quiet, peaceful time between my family going to bed and me going to bed is a perfect opportunity to spend time reflecting on the day, as well as reading and reflecting on God’s word. It provides a time for prayer, without distractions. It provides a time to just sit, without feeling the need to do anything; spend time just being with God.

I am going away next week. And I have things going on tomorrow. And it’s almost 1am.

In the words of one of my friends, “Sleep is biologically pleasant.” It’s hardly surprising finding rest and comfort in God is pleasant as well.

So for both of those reasons, I will go to bed and sleep in peace.

Hymns: Brother, Sister, Let Me Serve You

Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad.” – Romans 12:15

I was going to write about this song anyway. But given last night’s events in Nice, it seems especially appropriate.

Brother, Sister, Let Me Serve You is one of my favourites. It tells of how we are all facing a particular journey, and we can and should all help each other in times of difficulty and rejoice with each other in times of gladness.

At the moment, it is a time of difficulty and sadness for Nice. Whilst we believe we are living in a safe country, incidents such as happened there show that we are far more vulnerable than we think we are. No doubt many will be afraid. This is where we need to show God’s love to other people – this is epitomised in the third verse:

I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.”

Of course, this is something we should strive for anyway. We should always be striving to share God’s love, joy and peace.

For now, we weep with and pray for those in Nice. We pray that we shall soon be rejoicing with them instead.

Why I Love Le Tour

A person’s body is one thing, but it has many parts. Though there are many parts to a body, all those parts make only one body. Christ is like that also.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12

I’ve been watching a lot of sport recently.

Euro 2016 has been on, but I’ve not seen that much of it, mainly because I’m not that interested in football (that is, soccer).

More interesting for me is Le Tour de France. Firstly, because it goes through loads of beautiful French countryside. And right now, it’s in the Pyrenees, and since this time last week I’ve been watching Le Tour and wanting to live everywhere in France all at once…

It’s also great to see how much of a team sport cycling really is. Despite it being the individuals that get most of the credit (with stage wins, best climbers, best sprinters, and best overall), it is clear that the individual cannot do anything without the support of his team. The sprinters have a full-on lead out train, and the climbers have a team of domestiques.

The little I have seen of the football has seemed pretty much the opposite. The teams are all made up of individuals, yet the individuals do not seem to be part of the team. Indeed, teams like Iceland and Wales, who seemed to be inspired by the common goal and their cohesiveness helped them to beat supposedly far better teams.

Anyway, back to the cycling.

The cyclists themselves face gruelling ascents, terrifying descents (at 90km/h?!), and travel over 1,000km each week. That’s a massive test of endurance. And yes, many will abandon for various reasons, but most will make it through the 3 weeks.

Each aspect reminds me of something. The first aspect – the amazing scenery – reminds me of God’s creation. The scenery around both home and uni is nice, and is a beautiful reminder of God’s creation, but the impressive mountains of the Pyrenees, the Alps, and not forgetting the Auvergne, serve as a reminder to me of exactly how mighty God is.

The second aspect reminds me of various passages throughout the New Testament where Paul reminds the churches that whilst each one of us is different, we all have a purpose in the Kingdom of God. Some of us are able to effectively lead a large group of people; some of us are better suited to being in the background. But in order for the Church to be effective, everyone has to play a part.

The final aspect reminds me of life in general. It’s definitely not meant to be easy, but with God’s help we can get through.

Home or Away?

You are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” – Ephesians 2:19b

It’s a bit weird being back at home.

Going back to the church I went to almost every week until September, and being back in my own bed, and yet still feeling a little bit like a visitor.

I mean, I came back at Christmas and Easter, but it’s not quite the same when your bed’s in one place and your duvet is in another. Now they’re reunited, as it were.

And yet I’m still living pretty much out of a suitcase. I haven’t fully unpacked yet, and knowing that I’ve only got 2 months until I go back to uni, and just a week until I could (if I wanted to) move in to my house for next year, it doesn’t quite feel permanent enough to unpack completely.

Then there’s the fact that I have to re-adjust to family life. I’ve spent most of the last year living mostly independently, and to be honest I quite enjoyed it. And whilst I enjoy many home comforts (ranging from being able to play the piano regularly to not having to cook for myself every single day to being able to have day trips outside the realms of public transport…) I also appreciated moving out.

I am aware that next year will be very different. For one thing I’ll be living with 4 friends from CU, quite a step down from 19 strangers!

And whilst it’s a little weird being back at home, I know that God has given me so many blessings even within the past 2 weeks that I’ve been here, and He is faithful, steadfast and gracious no matter where in the country I am.

I am sure (and I can pray) that it is just a matter of getting back into routines and normality. I *might* just be a little homesick for university.

I realise that this has been mostly quite negative. I didn’t mean it to end up that way. I really love being at home with my family, and the fact that I can spend the summer at home is fantastic. There are so many blessings I get from being at home. But equally I am a little melancholic – uni life is so different. I will get back to uni life in September, though. For now I should focus on the summer.

And with the overarching theme of ‘home’, it seems appropriate to remember that the sense of belonging can be found in God. As is mentioned in Ephesians, we are all part of God’s family. We are all part of God’s household. Knowing that, through Jesus, we are children of God, will help me to put this into the bigger picture. Particularly at times like this – when I don’t really belong at home, but don’t really belong at uni – it is amazing to remember that I do, in fact, belong with God.