Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Spirit at Zac's

As always you can guarantee that I colide with Christmas with a huge mix of emotions. Absolutely love the idea of celebrating the birth of Christ - 'God with us' - human frailty and God stuff altogether. Actually quite appreciate the way the symbolism of the pagan festival was given new meaning by Christians - very new testament that, using shapes and symbols that are familiar to make a connection. But I really struggle with all the plastic crap and the commercial circus - so many diversions pulling against so many good intentions....

Anyway, Christmas cheer is well on the way at Zac's. We thrive and survive on a lot of goodwill from many friends and supporters throughout the year. Some of it comes from the local community, especially at this time of year. We've had donations of goods from pupils at two schools (Gowerton Comp and Penclawdd Primary), numerous individuals, The Mermaid Restaurant, the Market traders and the Uplands Diner. Infact last night the Uplands Diner put on a meal, after their usual hours, for some of our street community associated with Zac's. Was a great evening and I was personally very pleased to meet the staff who have been raising a bit of money towards our efforts over this past year.

We also had to say goodbye to Bob, (pictured), as we buried him last friday - which wasn't so cheerful, (except when someone's trousers fell down - and I don't think I've ever seen that at a funeral and I'm sure Bob would have been very amused!). Bob had been a regular at Zac's and had been 'on the road' for many many years - it was an honour to give him a dignified send off and to walk along side his family and many friends and staff from various agencies that had supported him. We shall miss him especially at Zac's on Christmas day when about 25 or so will gather for dinner.

Preparations are well under way for the additional meals on the 25th and 26th December and it continues to be great occasion for all involved and is reflective of the great atmosphere the rest of the year at all the different gatherings and mealtimes at Zac's. I am also reminded daily, that the Christ of Christmas began his human experience as a homelesss refugee....

I still love the lyric from Bruce Cockburn's Cry of a tiny babe:
"Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever,
Redemption rips through the surface of time in the cry of a tiny babe"

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's when life is messy, confusing and questioning the 'God with us' of Christmas past, present and future rolls up his sleeves and puts his boots on.

Twenty years ago I could never have imagined just how many times I would have had to lead people through a long and difficult road to the point of 'goodbye' as departed loved ones are buried. I have learned that to be entrusted with that responsibility is indeed a significant place to be - they are places of immense pain and trauma, sometimes anger, conflict and guilt - and sometimes there are glimpses of hope and sense of peace that goes beyond explanation.

In the past few days I was asked to assist in leading people in a memorial event, for the local drugs project, for those who have died from overdoses, today something similar in the city centre, with many from the 'street community', as we planted a rose bush at his 'pitch' . Directly following that I met with the family of another from our community, who spent somewhere in the region of 25 years sleeping rough, who's funeral takes place in a few days.

To remember those we love and miss continues to be important, whatever the circumstances; to take people by the hand and lead them through the darkest of days is not only a responsibility and a duty, but can also be a very sacred time - sometimes even the most delicate of connections and the most fragile moments of faith are the most tangible and significant. It's when life is messy, confusing and questioning the 'God with us' of Christmas past, present and future rolls up his sleeves and puts his boots on.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Meanwhile in Bangkok . . .

I've made mention before of precious opportunities of visiting the slum community of Klong Toey in Bangkok at the invitation of the Barker family and also Rod who works along side them with UNOH (Urban Neighbours of Hope).

This morning in Australia on a breakfast show, they had a wonderful interview broadcast giving some great insight into the work they are involved in. You will find the video here

Take a few moments to watch it . . .

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Back In Swansea . . . and Reading . . .

It was good to be able to return to familiar surroundings at Zac's Place after the recent foreign sojourn. The three week period was the longest I have been away from Zac's since it began over eleven years ago and I am so impressed with everyone there with the way it all ran - especially on the Tuesday night tribal gatherings. Contribution from a wide variety of our regulars, speaking openly and honestly about their life and faith, took relationships to another level and encouraged all involved. It's also a measure of how much the group has matured and sharing responsibilities is now a hallmark.

Today has seen a different side of activity at Zac's Place. In partnership with our friends at the Big Issue Cymru, The Cyrenians, Swansea Drugs Project and The Wallich (who manage the breakfasts for rough sleepers at our place), Zac's was used as a venue for a Health Check Up for many of our collective friends. Over fifty people came throughout the day for; flu and swine flu jabs, blood pressure checks, blood sugar level checks and benefit from the services of other health specialists such as dentists and chiropedists. What made this occasion different to other years was the involvement throughout the day of medical students from the Swansea Medical School Graduate Entry Programme who also found the experience very beneficial - and i can testify that being a guinea pig at the sharp end wasn't so bad after all!

I hit the road again this weekend returning to take part in the 24th Annual Reading Toy Run, on Sunday, which I was involved in founding with my closest of mates back home. It's an event that can attract over 2000 participants and one where I try to bring relavent Christmas message. I'll also be speaking at Sindlesham Baptist Church (near Wokingham) prior to the run. Monday sees a change of gear back in Swansea where I'll be contributing at a Remembrance Event for those lost through drug addiction; raw emotions, fragile souls and tough questions will all mark a special time, (3-5pm on Mon 7 Dec, St. Matthews Centre, High St. Swansea)

A mix of people and variety of circumstances ensure that the journey continues in it's usual colourful chaos and to a greater or lesser degree, often involves tending 'wounds' of one sort or another.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gold Coast to Welsh Coast

Arriving back at Heathrow Airport and onto South Wales amid howling gales seems like so many miles away, in more ways than one, from the Gold Coast of Queensland in Australia, the last stop on the tour. Sweet family reunions and disciplining myself to sleep and stay awake at appropriate times to minimise the effect of an 11 hour time change are all part of a homecoming.

The last 'formal' event of the trip went very well - an evening speaking engagement in Southport at the Church of Christ there. Smithy has spoken there numerous times and Ash Barker (UNOH/Thailand) was there just a few weeks previously and I knew a message reflecting on mission to the margins would not only be anticipated but welcomed - I hope at each of the venues folk will be inspired to find life on the margins. It's been a trip of varied venues and opportunities and I've tried hard not to repeat myself, (with the exception of a few stories). It would be easy to give the same message each time, but no part of the journey is ever the same. (At some stage I hope to put a few of the messages up on podcast or as links from the soapbox part of the webpage).

From start to finish it's been 21 days, a dozen messages, 14 different beds/couches/seats, 2200kms on 1 bike and a lot further on six aircraft in 5 States. It's been about a lot of people. Out of the whole trip all my waking hours were spent in the company of many people, (with the exception of a few hours riding here and there) and it's people that make the journey and it's people that continue to make a difference.

My deepest thanks to all those who showed hospitality and showed support in so many ways, to those who gave me space to do what I do, to Magoo for the wheels, and to the NSW Police dept for the helicopter escort through Sydney (I'm sure the tax payers of the city will be most appreciative of your paranoia).

Here's a few snaps from the mobile - so resolution won't be that great:

Melbourne - I wanted to learn much more about Aboriginal issues on this trip which I did - the moving story of a rescue in Gundagai 150 years ago touched my heart enormously..
Glenn on the flood plain at Gundagai

After speaking at a Baptist Church in Canberra.
The helicopter appeared shortly after!
Lismore crew - NSW
Some of the Gold Coast Crew, QLD

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle, Lismore & on to the Gold Coast

One week on from the last blog entry I have travelled considerably further north. A ride that had taken me from the city by design of Canberra through the tangled streets of Sydney up over the famous bridge, (with a police helicopter escort!) and up to the sea port and industrial region of Newcastle. Real hot from there up to Lismore - saw a wedged tailed eagle for the first time as I mile munched up the freeway. Onto to Byron Bay and up to the Goldcoast.

At each resting place very generous hospitality from fellow pilgrims in God's Squad has been welcome and is so much appreciated as we have shared stories and food. The speaking in Canberra at a Baptist Church there went very well, (great to see photo's of a family working with UNOH in Bangkok on their notice boards) and a personal whistle stop tour of the Aboriginal section of the NAtional Museum followed; courtesy of one of the congregation who happened to be on duty later that afternoon.

LAst time I was in Sydney I was so jet lagged I fell asleep in the foyer of the Opera House and was 'moved on'. This time was another brief overnight visit but was far more with it discussing with friends there the unjust laws that NSW is aiming towards motorcycle clubs. The following days ride up through the city was very hot and it was a buzz to ride across the famous bridge. Glenn accompanied me on the ride all the way to Newcastle. More reunions with special friends, (including eating in a bar in Swansea of all places), that spans nearly two decades and a midweek gathering at a Uniting Church in Warners Bay went well also - a couple of guys who were at the meeting in Yass the previous week six hours away came back which was good of them. I have tried to vary the talks at each place but with a common theme of misfits and the marginalised in Jesus' life on the road.

Travel by road rather than internal flight has given me wonderful opportunity to absorb both the landscape and the stories - especially of the indigenous population here. My 600 km ride up to Lismore in Northern NSW was long one and well worth while. One of our associates in Squad up there is an Aboriginal and an Elder from his community was very pleased to grant me an official welcome and blessing to the region, followed by a meal of Kangaroo Curry, (Turtle was the original first choice but unavailable on the day). The next day meeting up with the same folks in Byron Bay, we ate the biggest prawns I've seen in my life!

Once again I hit the road on Magoo's 1994 Softail which hasn't missed a beat, leaving the country town of Lismore and making the short hop to the Gold Coast. Signs for 'Surfers Paradise' and the first high rise buildings since Sydney come into view. This is where the Dolphins, Whales ans Sharks play and egos parade the sea front. It's also my final destination on this trip. I now have a day to relax, after clubhouse visits the previous night, before my final speaking engagement in Southport on Sunday night. I've spent time with a huge variety of people - I dare say these last few dares will bring some more surprises.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Launceston, Melbourne, Glenrowan, Wagga, Yass & Canberra . . .

Sat here in Canberra at the home of Glenn and Ros, eventually getting chance to pause for breath and it's all a bit sureal. Just twelve months ago they returned home to Aus after having spent nearly three years with us Zac's Place. Now it seems I have just nipped out the door and called around for coffee. In fact it's seemed like that for much of the last week or so catching up with so many from the community that is God's Squad.

The National Run in Tasmania was a blast as expected, although this year the added responsibility of deputizing for for JS meant that I was flat out from the point I landed in Melbourne. Returning to Melbourne after the weekend is less than an hours flight and since then I have been working my way north by bike after catching up with folks at St. Martin's. Precious times with fellow Squad members and their families and other friends at each resting place ensure that talk late into the night continues way after any formal speaking resposibilities have finished.

It's good to be riding amid the vast spaces of the Aussie coutryside between the country towns. (Road kill is much bigger than home and I'm sure the bugs wear bigger boots!). It was great to be in Yass in Southern NSW his morning to take a Breakfast meeting which was packed - am staggered that some folks had travelled 5 or 6 hours to be there; very humbling indeed. The next few days see more speaking, more miles, more reunions . . . .

Despite the vast open spaces between towns and cities; the world seems so very small.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Australia Dates On The Road - UPDATED

Sean will be speaking at the following venues over in the coming days in Australia. Tuesday night's at Zac's continue as normal in Swansea with an emphasis on personal stories of life and faith from regulars in the gatherings . . .

Weds 4 Nov, 7pm - St. Martin's, Collingwood, Melbourne, Vic. (6pm for BBQ)
215 Wellington St. Collingwood, VIC 3066 - Cnr Otter St, (Melways ref: 44 C4)

Sat 7 Nov, 8am - Yass Breakfast Meeting,Yass, NSW.

Sun 8 Nov, 10am - Tuggeranong Baptist Church, Canberra. ACT
33 Jenke Circuit, Kambah, ACT 2902
Phone: (02) 6296 1587

Weds 11 Nov, 5.30pm - Uniting Church at The Willows

342 Hillsborough Rd, Warners Bay, Newcastle, New South Wales

Sun 15 Nov, 6pm - Southport Church of Christ, Brisbane, Queensland
Queensland Academy Health Sciences (QAHS), Edmund Rice Drive, Southport, Brisbane, Queensland.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Baptism in the bay . . .

Here's a Zac's snap shot - Ric's baptism in a rather chilly Swansea Bay last Sunday!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Last Call for Bryn Haworth Tickets

There will be some tickets available on the door for Bryn's visit to Zac's on Saturday night for £10 - doors at 7.30pm, Gig at 8pm.

Profits from the gig will go towards the ongoing work at Zac's Place.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

City of Angels

Saw this on my friends' Kev & Linsey's blog, who are themselves committed to serving the urban poor. This snap shot from Skid Row in LA is representative of many cities . . .

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rowan Williams and Zac's Place.

"As far as the Church of England is concerned, Rowan Williams has said he wants to be remembered for the Fresh Expressions initiative when people look back at his time in office. Speaking during an interview for a York Courses audio CD, the Archbishop says that encouraging new forms of church was one of his first thoughts when he arrived at Lambeth in 2003. He also added that it was important to go to where people are, and be willing accept a 'mixed economy' church with fresh expressions and more traditional forms of church sitting side by side."

He also states in the interview that during his time as a bishop in Wales, is when he first became aware of both the need for different forms of church and that it was already happening in Wales. Virtually from day one, (1998), he has been an enthusiastic supporter of what we have been trying to do through Zac's Place, for which I am very grateful and it also seems it may have been one of the contexts that encouraged and challenged his thinking as he launched the Fresh Expressions initiative.

Listen to Interview Excerpt Here

Original Post Here, Monday, 12 October, 2009

"The work going forward at Zac's Place is in every way innovative, courageous and important for the community in general as well as the Christian community. I have been privileged to watch the development of this initiative over several years and would want to pay the most sincere tribute to the dedication and vision of those who have been running it."

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, October 2005

Zac's Place Story on Fresh Expressions Website

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Fresh Expressions Oct 2009, Podcast - Zac's Place Feature

Here's a direct link to the recent interview for the Fresh Expressions Podcast this month. I think it gives a reasonable representation for where Zac's Place is at, at this moment in time and something of the history.

Main Feature..

Additional Material ..

Friday, October 02, 2009

Australia Dates . . . .

Whilst attending to some God's Squad matters in Australia later this month, I will also be dropping in on the following places for a bit of banter; if you're in the area it'd be good to meet up. Four states, four gatherings.

Weds 4 Nov, 7pm - St. Martin's, Collingwood, Melbourne, Vic.

Really looking forward to returning to see my fellow dreamers and risk takers. St. Martin's was the place of my ordination and is the home of God's Squad and sister church community of Zac's Place.
215 Wellington St. Collingwood, VIC 3066 - Cnr Otter St, opposite the Housing Commision flats - (Melways ref: 44 C4)

Sat 7 Nov, 8am - Yass Breakfast Meeting, Yass Motel Convention Room.
Yass, NSW.

Sun 8 Nov, 10am - Tuggeranong Baptist Church, Canberra. ACT
33 Jenke Circuit, Kambah, ACT 2902
Phone: (02) 6296 1587

Sun 15 Nov, 6pm - Southport Church of Christ, Brisbane, Queensland
Queensland Academy Health Sciences (QAHS), Edmund Rice Drive, Southport, Brisbane, Queensland.

Zac's Place Podcast Interview by Fresh Expresssions Here (2/10/09)

Fresh Expressions Feature and Podcast

Fresh Expressions are running a Zac's Place Feature on their web site this month.

There is also a Podcast which may be of interest - features interviews and sound bites from muggins and also others at Zac's - there's also the virtually uncut interview as a podcast extra available too.

Am really pleased with the coverage, and we enjoyed Alicia's visit and the time she took to listen to everyone's story was much appreciated. Hope you find these items helpful - particularly regarding the history and foundational principles of Zac's Place.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Finland - The Long Walk Home

The recent return visit to Finland for the God's Squad Euro Run was always going to be special - seven nations, eight languages - one purpose. One lasting memory will a long walk in silence through the forest to a wigwam arrangement where we gathered around a fire a shared communion together. One of those times when stuff happens and it's very difficult to explain.

Check out the God's Squad blog for more images and comment.
(Thanks Dale for the pic)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bryn Haworth Tickets Now Available

Bryn Haworth Tickets are now available for the event on 17 October, on line via paypal at this Zac's Place link for the price of £6. Just print out the order and bring it with you.

Alternatively tickets are available in person at Zac's or by post for £5 until 13 October. Thereafter, all tickets and any door tickets will be £10.

Postal tickets should enclose an SAE and a cheque payable to 'Exousia Trust' to Zac's Place, Gospel HAll, George Street, Swansea, SA1 4HH.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

70,000 in the choir . . .

Am not always the biggest fan of congregational singing but this was a pretty good effort at the Millennium Stadium . . .
You'll have to check out other people's footage for the whole song - including a very Welsh orientated intro; but here's an excerpt . . . .

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Bryn Haworth Returns to Play Zac's Place

Gospel / Bluesman Bryn Haworth returns to play Zac's on Sat Oct 17th

Check his MySpace page out to have a listen and read his biog.

Tickets will be available in person at Zac's Place (07971 218644) and there will be a discount for advance purchase - check back in the next few days for details.....

The 'Winter Blues' gig will be a solo performances showcasing Bryn's exceptional guitar skills and songwriting - his reputation at one of the best slide guitarists around will only be endorsed. A sample from his last gig at Zac's is available to listen on our myspace page (see links on right).

Any profits from this event will go directly into the ongoing work of Exousia Trust at Zac's Place.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Throw Away Prayers

Having done about 400 of the 550 miles that day, I figured I was due a break of longer than it took to refuel the bike. So, I rode about 300 metres down past the pumps and parked in shady spot before launching back onto the Dutch motorway.

Short moments of still, quiet, reflection are precious on a long journey. As traffic thunders past on the other side of the trees, I quench my thirst and get some sugar intake.

As I begin the ritual of putting on my helmet, shades and gloves before firing the trusty HD into life, I notice a small scrap of paper on the tarmac below the bike.

On closer inspection, it’s a paper dart with the words, ..’please pray for . . ‘ visible on the upside of one of the wings. I recognised it as similar to the little prayer card things that are often in the chapel in prison.

As I stooped down and opened it, I read the scrawly pencilled words also in English; ‘..nobody, because there are no god.’

Some years ago, Tom Petty sang, ‘Even the losers get lucky sometimes’. Maybe also, even now, the throw away prayers don’t necessarily fall on deaf ears.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Summer Updates

Just a few news updates for Zac's through the month of August. ...

Thursday eve Coffee Bar will be on a break through August, resuming 3 Sep. Some will be providing a soup run at around 9pm in town instead.

Tuesday 'Tribal Gatherings' will be on a break on 18 & 25th August and on 4th and 11th we welcome representation from 'Fresh Expressions' (the joint Methodist and Anglican crew exploring different concepts of church community), to see what we are up to and get some stories for their monthly podcast.

Discussions also continue about the options for starting a monthly Sunday night gathering at HQ this Autumn - more to follow . . . .

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Facebook Feedback

For those on 'Facebook' you like to know that there is a Zac's Place 'group' - a space available for comment and discussion.
It has been encouraging to read comments, particularly about people's first experiences of Zac's Place - as folks folks have come along for many and varied reasons.

Here's a recent entry for your encouragement:
"My first experience of Zac's place..........hard to remeber. To be honest I was so off my face during that period ofmy life......? One thing that i will never forget is that it is where I first found Christ. Not in a head knowledge way but in a deep, heart knowledge. It was the first place I found Gods unconditional love, acceptance and grace in action. Not people talking it but people living it. Authentic faith and deeds in action."

For Facebook users you'll find the group here: Zac's Place Facebook Group

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Final Curtains

This past week has as usual been varied at Zac's Place. It has however been particularly marked by the final performances from JEMS Drama School here at Zac's - infact not just here, but anywhere as Jayne winds the school up after ten years of wonderful creativity. As usual the kids pulled all the stops out and last thursday's final night was not just a great performance but also very emotional; especially as some of the older kids have been involved for the whole ten years. Many of the folks that come through this building are tortured souls, so I shall miss the sound of laughter from the fifty or so drama school youngsters even more so.

As I write and prep for tonight's Tribal Gathering at Zac's - with the images of Michael Jackson's Memorial Service in the news, (but not much about the 7/7 victims), we'll ironically be looking at 'lament' and 'grief', (in the context of Old Testament geeza David in 2 Samuel 1); Lament and grief are two things I really don't think we're very good at in our culture. Tragedy is easier to deal with if it's a news story or a spectacle . . . lament is possibly what we should do with our questions and struggle when there aren't any obvious answers, but we cling to a bigger picture.

On a lighter note, it was good to welcome year ten students to Zac's this afternoon, from a local school, to come and hear some stories and look at the artwork - Doris continues to be a star attraction - based on, yup, 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted'!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Window Into Zac's Place

Zac's can be a bit of a mad house sometimes, it's also a haven of peace in a storm and a punch bag amid pain.
One of our regulars at the Tribal Gatherings, Liz, is also a regular blogger.
Here's a link to her blog, with a filter on it for the Zac's related posts, in which she share's her reflections and observations amid the kaleidascopic experience. Feel free to take a look if your interested:
Liz's Zac's Place Reflections . . . .

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tony Campolo Interview

Ok - He's an American and he's a preacher. But don't let that put you off. He's vastly different to most of them.
He's as passionate about advocating the rights of the poor and vulnerable as much as ever. Now in his 70's, here's a very recent radio interview link that he did last week with BBC Radio Wales. You'll need 20 mins or so, but it's well worth it.

Tony Campolo - BBC Radio Wales 14/6/09

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Gospel According To Nick Griffin . . .

Having seen the BNP's Nick Griffin being interviewed late last night on Sky news, as the European election results were being announced, I am a little confused. Mr Griffin stressed the importance of the UK being a Christian country and all residents should adopt Christian principals such as his own. I wonder which principals he means? Could it be the loving your neighbour or indeed your enemies ones? Or maybe it's the cross cultural connections that Jesus made cutting across all religious and racial divides when he spent time in the company of Samaritans amongst others? Absolutely bizarre. There We Are Then.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Street Football Wales - fundraising concert in Swansea

A Night to Remember!!!

Street Football Wales (SFW) to host a fundraising concert in Swansea.

As part of SFW's continued efforts to raise funds for the Street Football league and the Homeless World Cup Team, a concert has been arranged to take place on Saturday May 9th at Llewellyn Hall, Swansea YMCA. The Morriston Phoenix Choir will be performing alongside the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project Dance Troupe, the Disconnected and special guest Steve Balsamo!, (of The Story's, Jesus Christ Superstar and also currently performing with Jon Lord on International dates).

There is a lot of work involved in preparing for the concert and those involved in Street Football Wales continue to give up a huge amount of their free time in an effort to ensure the success of the league and the Welsh Dragon's participation in the Homeless World Cup.

If you are reading this and are in or around Swansea, come along and support SFW - tickets for the concert are a bargain at £5 each! Order your tickets by contacting


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Apprentices On The Road - Spring Harvest

Most of what I seem to get involved in is pretty well out there on the fringes when it comes to church related activity. Spring Harvest however is an exception, having been involved in numerous capacities since it's very early days in the late 70's. For those not in the know, SH is an annual multi week church based conference style family event spanning many denominations and attracts around 45,000 people in total each Easter. It's accommodated at Butlin's sites in Minehead and Skegness. There's bits of it that make me cringe and frustrate me, but I can't deny that certainly as a younger person there were some key moments for me in my Christian journey that Spring Harvest helped shape and it continues to encourage many in their faith and I am pleased to have the opportunity to be involved.

Over the years having been on the youth team as a speaker, detached youth worker, musician and in more recent years the pastoral team. In this role I have been running 'Just Looking' groups, specifically for those who attend SH who question much of what they see and want a safe space to ask questions and discuss life, faith and whatever else comes up. In practice this means over the course of the week about twenty folks come along and enjoy honest and open discussion not too disimilar to our Zac's tribal gatherings on a tuesday eve - but without the chaos!

In the wider programme the theme was 'Apprentice - walking the way of Christ' - the logo for which was a pair of old boots. As the week went on my own boots gradually desintegrated - if only replicating the way of Christ was as straightforward as that!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Is This A Road I Have To Go Down?

To continue the Holy Week theme,I couldn't resist putting in the following clip from local fella, Steve Balsamo singing 'Gethsemane'. Captures the the moment fantastically...

Performance of this show-stopping song at Ahoy, Holland in June 2004 by Steve Balsamo, who starred in the London West End Revival production of Jesus Christ Superstar in 1996/97 at The Lyceum, and tours and records with The Storys currently.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hero To Villain? - Palm Sunday Reflection

Today is what in the Church Calendar is called 'Palm Sunday' - celebrated a week before Easter. Traditionally it's the day when we reflect on Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem amid the welcoming enthusiasm of the crowds that had caught on to Lazarus' raising among other things.

This scenario and the following Easter week is full of contrasts - betrayal and trust, love and hate, denial and faith, justice and coercion, mercy and brutality. I can't help thinking of the bizarre turnaround from the outpouring of emotion of the 'Palm Sunday' moment to the same crowd calling for His execution one week later. Sure they wanted a deliverer, but Jesus didn't fit the mould for their kind of warrior saviour. The crowd wavered in it's support and opinion over these days, but the message and actions of Christ remained constant as indeed it still does - amid our often wavering still.

The full horror and delicate beauty of the Easter week is not contained in a sanitized pic and mix saviour to make us feel good for five minutes to suit our wants, but in the stark reality of a sacrificial ragamuffin saviour bringing hope to a weary and wounded world. How we see the Christ of Easter and how we see the people around him at that time, will have a huge bearing on how we may or may not choose to follow Him. Me, I'll hang on to the hope that while everything around Christ was shifting he stayed true to what needed to be done and for that I am eternally grateful.

The Palm Sunday story is contained in Chapter 12 of John's Gospel which can be found here

Saturday, March 28, 2009


The telephone goes; it's that mate that's been on your mind all day. For some reason you take the second left, not the first and you find a stranger needing help. You feel like giving up and moving on and a reminder stares you in the face to hang in there, keep going and not give up.

Telepathy? Good fortune? A Lucky day? or just Coincidence? In his book 'Wishful Thinking', the writer Frederick Beuchner writes of the word, 'coincidence':

"I believe that people laugh at coincidence as a way of relegating it to the realm 
of the absurd and of therefore not having to take seriously the possibility 
that there is a lot more going on in our lives than we either know or care 
to know. Who can say what is going on, but I suspect that a part of it 
is that every once and so often we hear a whisper from the wings that goes 
something like this: You've turned up in the right place at the right time. 
You're doing fine. Don't ever thing that you've been forgotten."

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Today as Australia mourns, I too remember dear friends and brothers and sisters in Australia going through dark days. Even within the family that is God's Squad and St. Martin's, (my ordaining church), there are those who have lost their loved ones and their homes. There are others too who fought the fires and others who in their capacity as chaplains and pastors have much to do. May God grant them strength and grace.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Helsinki . . . to Minehead?

Not had chance to right much of late. But recent days have seen such diversity amid much activity sometimes you only get chance to take in what's happening when you write it down.

Was in Finland the weekend before last, (flew out Friday, back Sunday), on God's Squad duties visiting the Finnish chapter. Much road travel, little sleep and feeling full of flue, but had an encouraging time with the guys - the 'Dutch' were also visiting, so it was never going to be quiet. The ministry of God's Squad in the bike scene continues to be effective on many levels and it's rewarding to see the development of the new chapters in Europe with the challenges of not only language but also diverse church and bike scene cultures. Got back into Heathrow shortly before they closd it due to snow - kind of ironic having just come from Finland where packed ice and snow is normal on the roads for months on end!

The next week or so saw the regular Zac's Place gatherings and another funeral to take in Reading. It's been a rough ride for mate's up there. From their close knit brotherhood, three guys from their club have died in the last eight months, the second just a few weeks ago. Amid the heartache, it remains an honour to be entrusted with the responsibility to help steer people through dark days. I try to keep things real and honest in the hope that it helps a little.

Back to Swansea for more Squad related events and meetings on the Saturday and then in Swansea Prison first thing Sunday morning to take the services there. Jail is always a favourite gig! Especially Swansea as there's so many familiar faces in there! Also get the tragic news from friends in Australia the some have lost their homes and one dear brother has lost his two daughters - the faces on my God's Squad photo montage at Zac's help us to remember them in our prayers tuesday night. Dark days indeed for some.

A couple of local Church meetings and time to spend with the family and then hit the road again on Sunday for the Minehead gig. It's a one off Zac's Place 'on the road' Songwriters circle (see post below). Am looking forward to it as Lorraine, Phil and Rob have been three of the most supportive musicians in the 10 years of Zac's Place.

So there we go, Helsinki to Minehead - it's the usual diverse mix of people, places and emotions. All the more reason to hang to that which never changes.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Zac's Place - On The Road Gig - Minehead

Sunday night Feb 15, sees Sean hosting a night of music and banter in good Zac's tradition from the trio that is Lorraine King, Rob Ash and Phil James at the Regal Theatre, Minehead.