Wednesday, May 07, 2008

John the Baptist and his Dad

I'm just into name dropping now! Did I tell you about going to visit the head of John the Baptist at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus or St. Zecharia at the Umayyad Mosque in Allepo

I wasn't much impressed by the tomb of Salladin but felt I need to show my respects and apolgise for Richard Coeur de Lion. And I wasn't too fussed by visiting the chapel at the place where St. Paul was allegedly let down from the walls. They would, I'm sure have chosen a place well away from a gate and sentries if he was making a get away! I liked the House of Annanias. That was believable !

OK if you are doing believable then, no I don't think it is John the Baptist's relics. There are two churches in France that claim that distinction. One having the head of John the Baptist as a young man! But I liked being welcome in the Mosque and having the Prophet John the Baptist, Peace be upon him, in common with the Moslems and I liked praying there and daring to hope that the prophecy of Isaiah - who we have in common as well - about living in peace, might become a reality.

©Richard Woodham 2008

Kissing Lazarus

There's a story untold in the Bible how the returned to life Lazarus went on to be the first Bishop of Larnaka and in the Church of St. Lazarus in Larnaka you can see, in a crypt beneath the high altar, the stone coffin in which he lay.

I went down into the crypt,  reminded  of both the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  I've kissed the rock in both places! But there was to be no kissing Lazarus, yet!

The coffin is empty! He has not yet been raised from the dead a second time, in spite of the empty tomb! His body was nicked by the high principled Crusaders who took it off to Marsailles! There is no need to rely on a Homeopathic Theory of relics - there's a holy place where the relic used to be - to get close and cuddly with Lazarus. They conveniently left a portion of his skull behind.

It is kept, upstairs in the church, in a golden relique in the church!

Kneeling in the near darkness of the crypt tomb gave a profound experience my own mortality. I like the idea that my brother Lazarus will rest in the sleep of death and by God's grace will be raised up on the last day (whatever that means!?)

Returning to the main church,  I found my way to the relique.  The small fragment of St. Lazarus' skull is covered in  perspex,   but I kissed it none-the-less. And that brought me close! To the Bible story, the reality of death,  the hope of resurrection and the thousands of Christian folk who have come to honour the saint over the millennia.

©Richard Woodham 2008

Committed to Growth

The Church of England Diocese of Norwich has a bad attack of the intiatives - caught it from the politicians I shouldn't wonder! Committed to Growth, it's called! For busy church people it can seem like a burden - Do something more! Be more committed! it seems to shout. Those of us with long memories and a touch of the cynic about us remember Moving Forward and from Maintenance to Mission ( nobody really wanted people to cease maintenance on the 600+ medieval churches in the diocese to cease from maintenance no matter what the slogan said!)

I was turning these things over in my mind as I hiked through Cypriot vinyards. I knew the Allegory of the Vine (John 15) as well as the next well educated person in the pew. What I had forgotten, even if I had originally known, was how harshly a vine-dresser cuts back.

There in the vinyard were these dead looking sticks. That's what Committed to Growth looks like!
©Richard Woodham 2008

Pilgrim Path 2008

Accompanied Walks in 2008

  • On pilgrimage we are brothers and sisters of Christ sharing the path and one another’s company.
  • Mindful of our own and our companions’ need for silence or talk—we share both
  • We try to be aware of the presence of the risen Lord who promises to be with us ‘til the end of time
  • He is the way who’s gracious call we follow.
  • Little journeys are sacramental of the bigger journey
  • We make space to consider the birds of the air and flowers of the field and
  • Expect to be refreshed

You are invited to join us on the following days:-

1st July at 6.30 p.m. meet on the southern end of the seafront at Walcott Gap. Map Ref:- 35915,32955. An gentle walk along the seashore turning in land and returning via Broomholm Priory for a fish supper on the shore

16th August at 1130 a.m. meeting at 40 Anchor Street, Coltishall we proceed by land or river to St. Peter, Belaugh and return for a barbecue and shared lunch. (Please let us know a few days in advance if you intend coming to this one!)

4th October Annual St. Fursey Pilgrimage

From Great Yarmouth Station to Burgh Castle for lunch and service

Want to know more about any of the above contact

On yer bike!

The long summer days and quiet Norfolk lanes make this a great time to get on a bike! It’s a great way of seeing the country and a perfect way to get the exercise that’s so good for you. With legs pumping and heart rate raised one can feel one’s self unwind as spinning wheels eat up the miles.

Is it sometime since you were in the saddle - perhaps not since you were a kid? The sheer exhilaration of going downhill with the wind in your hair hasn’t altered. It’s still great fun! Fun remains an un-negotiable aspect of Christian living, part of the child-likeness that allows entry to the Kingdom of God! Besides, rising fuel costs and the need to reduce our carbon footprint, makes cycling a moral choice. There’s no better time to give it a try!

Gliding through country lanes gives an opportunity to consider the flowers of the field and the birds of the air. And if while peddling you encounter a burning bush or pearl of great price it is easy to stop and look and wonder. Praying’s easier too! Peddling on its own, or accompanied by a simple repetitive words like the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner.” can still the racing mind and calm the jumpy heart. Life in the slow lane is worth chasing after!

An answer to practical questions like “how”, “where” and “when” is provided by the Broads Bike Trail. Published by Broadland Cycle Hire with support from the Broads Authority and the Norfolk Broads and Rivers Open Churches Project, it describes trails of varying lengths. The longest at 35 miles goes through Hoveton, Wroxham, Ranworth,
South Walsham, Upton, Acle and Horning. On route are Fairhaven Gardens, Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Ranworth Visitors Centre, 16 Broadland churches and for those who, have prayed and peddled their way through quiet lanes and are thirsting after righteousness, there’s the Fur and Feather at Woodbastwick, the brewery tap for Woodforde’s Norfolk Ales.

Broadland Cycle Hire’s base is at the Bewilderwood Treehouse Adventure (more fun for children and the child-like!) between Hoveton and Horning. Tel. No. 07887 480331. They can provide well maintained, modern cycles, helmets and all the appropriate safety equipment together with the necessary advice.

Broads Bike Trail leaflets can be obtained from Broadland Cycle Hire, Gateway Churches of the Norfolk Broads and Rivers Project ( and Broads Authority information centres.

©Richard Woodham 2008