Happy New Year 2019!

New Year’s Day in the Lake District ~ and the sun came out, all day long!  So did all the people. The secret is to get out early, while everyone is recovering from their New Year celebrations – or don’t drive too far and stay nearer home.  So this is a mix of photos taken yesterday morning at Coniston, and in the afternoon sun on Wansfell Pike with the fell ponies.  Enjoy!

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A wonderful start to 2019 ~ hope your New Year also got off to a sunny start, and long may it continue!

Farewell to 2018!

The end of 2018, and I’m here in the UK’s Lake District for Christmas and New Year, and looking at mountains and lakes and spectacular scenery. People pay thousands of £ € ¥ $ to come here on holiday, and, well, here I am, enjoying it all, courtesy of my family who live here. So far, the weather has been mostly grey, often foggy, sometimes frosty, but mainly mild. On Christmas Eve, we had a day of brilliant blue skies and sun, all day. The above photo is Ullswater on Christmas Eve. Pretty nice, eh?

And this is Jesus Church, Troutbeck over Christmas…

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In case you’re wondering, yes that big stained glass window is all in Pre-Raphaelite style, designed in 1873 by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris who used to come up to Troutbeck for fishing. The window even has 4 trout depicted in 4 small separate windows. I know, cos I counted them this very morning. Love it or hate it, it’s kind of famous.

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I’ve been in the Lakes since I came back from a weekend in Anglesey (that’s it, above, with the mountains of the mainland in the background). What a beautiful island! I kind of like islands, and Anglesey is one special one. Google told me that 2 of the most famous places to visit on Anglesey are Menai Bridge and Beaumaris, so knowing the weather forecast for that weekend was going to be terrible, I went there on the Friday afternoon. Then off to visit a friend, and we spent a wet weekend putting up Christmas decorations and worshiping at her church at Llanfaelog. Wales can be wet, but wonderful!

And then there was my visit to the Wirral, en route to Anglesey. One of the highlights was a short visit to Port Sunlight, home of Sunlight Soap factory and a model village set up by the Lever brothers to house their workers in the 1880’s, and it’s really lovely. There’s even an art gallery and museum with an amazing collection of stuff. Definitely needs lots of time to see it all. Fascinating place.

My friends in the Wirral, Nigel and Linda, kindly took me for a delish Christmas lunch at the local college, cooked by students in the catering section. Here we are. Note the new Christmas jumper and my chubby cheeks – too many Christmas dinners ha ha ~ diet will commence on January 1!

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And before the Wirral, though it was some weeks ago now, I also visited Chester – it’s the same area, in fact the Wirral is in the Diocese of Chester. That was actually over Remembrance Sunday, and we went to the Chester City Remembrance events outside the cathedral…

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And then across the Peak District, to Buxton, where the Methodist Church has solar paneling in the shape of a cross. Imaginative or what?! And a whole lot of other beautiful buildings. Loved it all!

And I called in at Eyam, the plague village in the Peak District, really fascinating!

And so to Sheffield. This was the first time I think I had ever visited the Cathedral…

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Loved that stained glass artwork in the ceiling!

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Plenty of street art in Sheffield around the university area and the newly-renovated section of Parkhill Flats, home of Yasmin Khan from the new Doctor Who series – plus there’s even a green tardis, in the form of a police box in the centre of Sheffield. Impressed, I was. Sheffield could rapidly become one of my new favourite cities.

And somewhere on my travels, there was a Catherine Street. Always love a good name for a street! This one was in Chester.

This photo, below, is one of my favourite photos of 2018, taken here at Lake Windermere. It’s a black-headed gull in winter plumage with the moon reflected in the water. When people ask me what I miss about England when I’m in Taiwan, this is my answer. Seagulls. They are so much part of UK life everywhere I seem to go, and although Taiwan has a lot of sea, it doesn’t have many seagulls. In Taiwan we have egrets, but they’re just not the same. Seagulls can be a great nuisance, especially herring gulls. But when you don’t have any seagulls, it’s oh so quiet without them. They have a huge amount of character, make a whole lot of noise and bring a bit of excitement to the place. Appreciate them, dear people of Britain!

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So there you go for another year. Grateful to you all for all your support over 2018. Thanks be to God for another year of many blessings. And wishing you all a Happy New Year for 2019!

Advent Word 2018, Day 24 ‘Celebrate 慶祝’

#AdventWord #Celebrate #慶祝

「你可能認為,要忽略真正的好消息很難。」我的意思是,誰會錯過慶祝的機會?但是,我們卻錯過這個福音,12月25日的福音。
讓我們今年別錯過了。不論你怎麼看它,上帝來到這世上,不為別的,只為了愛。當你思考這件事時,你會知道,愛是好得無比的好消息,一個值得我們花時間來慶祝的好消息。

You would think that it would be hard to overlook really good news.  I mean, who would miss a chance to celebrate?  But, too often, we miss the good news, the real good news, of December 25.
But let’s not do that this year.  Because no matter how you look at it, God coming into the world for no other reason but love is, when you think about it, incredibly good news—news that is worth making the time to #Celebrate.

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St. Mary’s Church, Holy Island.  All around is darkness, but the church door is open, don’t miss it.  Don’t miss the chance to celebrate.  Don’t miss the real good news of December 25.

Today is Christmas Day, and the final post for Advent Word 2018 ~ hope you’ve enjoyed them.  Let’s celebrate ~ have a wonderful Christmas!

Advent Word 2018, Day 23 ‘Peace 平安’

#AdventWord #Peace #平安

如同復臨節的人們,我們要等候,慢下腳步,除去使我們分心的事物並且尋找上帝應允我們的平安,直到伯利恆統治者的再來。安靜並接納平安的禮物,愛的果實,它就在你的內心裡而不在你的作為裡。記住,耶穌是一切平安的來源。

As Advent people, we are to wait, slow down, free ourselves from distractions and search for the peace that God has promised us through the coming of the ruler from Bethlehem. Be still and allow the gift of peace, the fruit of love, to be found within your being rather than in your doing. Remember that Jesus is the source of all peace.

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A cross in the Holy Island churchyard against the wall of the priory ruins.

It’s Christmas Eve: wishing you all a peaceful and blessed Christmas!

Advent Word 2018, Day 22 ‘Persist 堅持’

#AdventWord #Persist #堅持

復臨節的季節幾乎快到最高潮時節。它是一段漫長的旅程,尤其對瑪麗亞和約瑟來說。他們親身體驗到堅持的意義,一直堅持直到應許的事物被成就。也許抄捷徑會是誘人的–「我們就在家裡獻祭吧。」但上帝不希望我們抄捷徑。上帝呼召我們,不是要我們選擇容易的道路。上帝要的是一群願意堅持旅途的人民,願意做足準備真實接納基督到我們的心裡和生活裡。

The season of Advent has almost reached its climax. It has been a journey, certainly for Mary and Joseph. They experienced first hand what it meant to persist, to keep going until all that was promised was fulfilled. It might have been tempting to take a shortcut–“Let’s just make an offering or a sacrifice and stay home.” But God does not want shortcuts. God does not call us to take the easy way. What God does require is a people who persist on the journey, who make all the necessary preparations to truly receive the Christ child in our hearts and our lives.

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Along the Holy Island seashore when the tide is out, it’s fun to search the rocks and rockpools for fish or whatever marine life can be found.  The tiny shells are barnacles, while the big conical ones are limpets, officially aquatic snails.  Limpets cling tight to the rock crevices when the tide is out, but when covered in water, off they slide to graze on algae.  For us to try to prise them off the rocks at low tide is virtually impossible without damaging them.  They cling tenaciously, stubbornly resisting whatever might try to remove them.  Even the strongest men and women are no match for limpets.  Persistance, indeed, and a challenge to us in our journey of faith.

Advent Word 2018, Day 21 ‘Expect 期待’

#AdventWord #Expect #期待

我們每天被廣告衝擊著,以明顯的訊息告訴我們,我們應當在人生中期待些甚麼—更多,更好,更大的事情。然而,如果我們接收到的訊息促使我們不是期待我們可能會得到的事物,而是期待我們可能會給予的事物呢?當瑪麗亞被上帝邀請成為歷史上最有名的未婚青少年媽媽時,她沒有問:「我可以從這樣的安排中得到甚麼?」沒有,她說:「我在這裡。我是主的使女,情願照你的話成就在我身上。」(路加福音第一章38節) 瑪麗亞並沒有思考她期待接受到甚麼東西。她僅只奉獻她的生命,活生生的犧牲,獻給那位呼召她的神。你在復臨節時期「期待」甚麼呢?

We are pummeled daily by advertisements that, in not so hidden messages, tell us what we should “expect” out of life–more, better, bigger things.

What if, however, the messages we received prompted us to expect not what we might get, but what we might give?  When, invited by God to become the most famous unmarried teenage expectant mother in history, Mary did not ask “What do I get out of this arrangement?” No, she said, “here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)  Mary did not think about what she could expect to receive.  She simply gave her life, a living sacrifice, to the God who called her.  What do you “expect” this Advent season?

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See all these people? They’ve just arrived on Holy Island and are walking from the car park into the village.  A steady stream, but in summer this path is choc-a-block with visitors.  Everyone comes with a sense of expectancy, looking forward to a day out on Holy Island – perhaps a visit to the priory or castle, coffee or lunch at one of the cafes, a walk on the beach or up to the hill, a bit of shopping, and a visit to the church.  Many pilgrims and visitors have found that their faith has been awakened, refreshed or renewed by their visit, and they return home keen to share their experiences with others.

“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God” (William Carey)

Advent Word 2018, Day 20 ‘Sign 符號’

#AdventWord #Sign #符號

許多我們所遇見的符號都是潛在危險的凶兆。他們是要提醒我們保護自己。注意落石,注意癌症的徵兆,回頭以免溺斃。但在復臨節,我們遇見的是即將來臨的可能性預兆。他們帶來寬宥,祝福以及愛。留心愛。要知道愛的預警。轉身並接受愛。如同詩人克莉絲汀娜.羅賽提所言:「愛是我們的替身…是祈求,禮物以及符號的愛。」

Many of the signs we encounter are portents of potential danger. They are intended to keep us safe. Watch for falling rocks. Know the warning signs of cancer. Turn around don’t drown. But in Advent, the signs we encounter are portents of impending possibility. They offer us forgiveness, blessing, love. Watch for love. Know the warning signs of love. Turn around and accept love. As poet Christina Rossetti says, “Love shall be our token . . . Love for plea and gift and sign.”

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Signpost in Holy Island village.  Choose the way you want to go.  Choose the way you want to live.  Think of all the major decisions that have been made on Holy Island since the beginning of time, decisions to come, to leave, to flee, to return, to build, to create, to establish, to settle, to pray, to worship, to love.  Christmas is coming, let us choose the way of love.

Yes to God, Yes to Mission, Yes to Taiwan!