Two children aged four and sixty-one 

sit on the shiny church hall floor wazzing

a plastic tractor across the busy span

ploughing laughter. In the background 

newly arrived friends discover an arsenal 

of language whilst a bill is broadcast

that will make entertained angels illegal

amongst strangers with forgotten roots.

Is this what we have become? Keepers

of the poisoned well, creators of bitter

metaphor, crafters of ripped canvas?

Who will serenade aliens, play tractors

on the floor, dig the well of flourishing,

and plant flowers amongst muck-rakers?

Craig Muir, Lent 2023

I usually like poems to stand by themselves, and perhaps this one can do so – but I thought it could also stand some context and some biblical background. The first day of our new Learning Together initiative in Loughborough was the same day as the publication of a government bill that seeks to make such activity impossible. I find such an attitude towards those seeking asylum stands against the values of any nation that would like to think of itself as Christian. Time and time again the Biblical texts remind the people of Israel where they have come from, that because they had been slaves they were to treat strangers/aliens with kindness and respect (e.g. Deuteronomy 13). In this poem we draw from the Letter to the Hebrews “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”(13:2).

Time and again the people of God are called to pursue peace and create a culture of welcome. In this poem I remember various stories in which the well is the place of meeting, but in particular Genesis 26 where access to wells was a cause for conflict but became the basis for peace and hospitality. As we find ways to welcome those who seek asylum amongst us, may we also find ways to create beauty, love and peace together – it is the only way we can all flourish and in doing so I believe it is the only way to follow the one who reminds us that once we were in chains but now we are free.

As we move into the season of Easter, may we each know the joy of new life, the hope of resurrection and the excitement of being welcomed into the enriching community of God’s people. 

Be blessed


AGM Report 2022

2022 was my first full year with you and brought a number of challenges. Some were personal, the death of both my Mum and Dad brought personal grief and some distraction. Thank you for the prayers and care you showed me through those times, and the time you gave me to be with them and the family. But it was also a year in which the church grieved members and friends and we have shared that pain together 

It was good to celebrate the 200th anniversary, to look back at the history, and meet many of the people who have been a part of this church over the years and to celebrate all that has gone. But we have also been looking forward and re-establishing activities after the years of Covid.

It has been important to establish a regular prayer time, for a church must pray together. I was glad to establish a regular bible study – even if it has shown up the difference in the way I read and interpret the bible from some of those who attend. Amongst those differences we still seek God’s word for us today and so we must persist and be open to learning from each other. I was glad we were able to begin Toast on Tuesday and thank you to those who have stepped up to help with that, I hope it has become a valuable point of contact for our fellowship and beyond

It has also been a pleasure to welcome Johnny O’Hanlon into our midst as he completes his training to become a Minister. It has been good to work with him, to hear his insights and to encourage his development. I know he will be a great Minister wherever he is called, so it has been good to use his skills whilst he is with us.

Elsewhere, my Synod Transitional Role took me to Northamptonshire for a few months and then went a bit quiet for the rest of the year. I took the opportunity to spend my fourth Sunday’s in a variety of churches – it was good to see how other places operate and to see people living out the gospel in a variety of ways. 

Looking towards 2023, we need to build on the good things we are doing and support each other as we do. We need to begin to grow the congregation, everyone will need to play a part in encouraging new people to join us or old friends to return. I also want us to focus our Mission objectives and be clear about who are we are and where God is calling us. In doing so, we will have a clearer idea about some of the longer term thinking we have to do about finances, buildings and our long term future.

As we moved into the new year the Elders’ met in order to do some of that initial forward thinking. We asked the question, “What are the bible texts that speak of this church?” The phrase “I’m the LORD that is my name” was shared. It comes from a number of places, but the one my mind drifted to was Isaiah 42 as part of a long passage of encouragement to a people who were despondent and uncertain about the future. 

I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;

    I will take hold of your hand.

I will keep you and will make you

    to be a covenant for the people

    and a light for the Gentiles,

to open eyes that are blind,

    to free captives from prison

    and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

“I am the Lord; that is my name!

    I will not yield my glory to another

    or my praise to idols.

See, the former things have taken place,

    and new things I declare;

before they spring into being

    I announce them to you.” (Isaiah 42: 6-9)

That feels like a good piece of scripture to ponder upon as wonder where God calls us next.

Craig Muir March 2023

Be Blessed

What does it mean to be blessed? 

Your answer might depend on what you understand by the word. For some it means they are lucky, they have good fortune, they are happy and content with life. For others it has a deeply sacred tone. My thesaurus lists – holy, sacred, divine, hallowed, sanctified, adored, exalted, revered, spiritual, canonised, godlike. Others may use it to replace a swear word or to ward off the perils of a sneeze. 

If our preacher on 29th January chooses to follow the lectionary readings then we will hear Matthew 5:1-12, a passage known as the Beatitudes of “The Blessings” and in the two weeks that follow until it is interrupted by Lent, we will hear the beginning of Jesus teaching known as the Sermon on the Mount. These passages are key to Matthew’s telling of Jesus’ life and teaching as they speak of a community that is blessed, that knows God’s favour and spells out the ethical and moral responses expected of such a community.  The first remarkable thing about this community is that many people would not look upon them and see people who are blessed – they are broken, vulnerable, grieving, meek, angry, do-gooders – who are persecuted and insulted because of their perceived weakness. Yet they are the salt of the earth, the light of the world called to let their light shine so that goodness can be experienced and God be praised. The second remarkable thing is that the vision of what it means to live as a Blessed Community is a radical way of life that is a struggle to achieve because it involves an openness, a love, a care for people who are different from ourselves and a trust in God to care for each of us in place of material possessions. 

Ghandi was one who was greatly influenced by the Sermon on the Mount, so much so that he modelled many of his teachings on non-violence upon it. The problem for Ghandi was that much of what he experienced as passing for Christianity was a negation of the Sermon on the Mount. I would love to be able to claim that was no longer so – but in reality as I look around I know that it continues to be so. 

So what are we to do about our own struggles to live as the community Jesus calls us to be? I think we need to be honest with ourselves, and know the ways in which we fail one another, we need to know our own brokenness, vulnerability, grief, meekness, anger and hunger for goodness and welcome the ways in which we receive God’s blessing despite ourselves. In such ways we might just discover the salt and light that Jesus promises and we can be a church that invites and joins with other broken, vulnerable, grieving, meek, angry, hungry people in order to know blessing and share blessing.

be blessed