St Martins Church Ashton Upon Mersey

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               Some of the many faces of priesthood

Dear friends,


One of the things that I most enjoy doing is taking photographs. Long before digital cameras I had a succession of other cameras - my first was when I was still in junior school. In those days, of course, film came in rolls, and a 24 or 36 exposure film would set you back a pretty penny - and then there was the developing!

 Nowadays, with digital cameras and phones it's very easy to take a load of photos and then select the decent ones and erase the rest. It's also wonderful to be able to switch between all manner of different effects and black and white or colour. And even if the photo is taken in colour, it's only a moment's work to turn it into a black and white photo - the best of both worlds! I took this shot, in colour, in Poland at the beginning of October.

 Whilst it is wonderful to have the flexibility of digital photography, it can also make a photographer lazy. When film was costly and you only had a limited number of shots per roll, then it was usually important to think more carefully about the photo before taking it. Would moving to the right or left help frame the shot better? Would a low angle add drama to the shot? How much should a zoom lens be used? Nowadays, it's simply to try all these options and then think about which looks the best later. Yet, this can also mean that the person taking the photo doesn't look and consider the subject of the picture they're taking as carefully as they might have done.

 What's still important to me when I take many of my photos is to look at things and try and be surprised. To try unusual angles and heights, to find an interesting means of adding perspective or framing the picture. To do this means looking thoughtfully and, as far as possible, without a pre-conceived idea of what the picture might look like.  

Here are four shots I took over 10 years ago on Lindisfarne. I like each of them, and they are all quite different even though they have the same boat in the fore-ground and the castle in the background. They illustrate for me how a slightly shifted perspective gives a very different view and picture of the same truth.

 I recently bought a book called ‘Spirituality in Photography' by Philip J Richter which reads much like my own inner thought processes! It talks about how in our spiritual lives we can train ourselves, as can a photographer, to think about perspective and angles; to consider carefully the unusual things as well as the expected things we approach in life; how photographs - and our attitudes and lives - can tell the truth or crop certain elements of fact, or edit them, or misrepresent them. It also talks about how, in our fast and busy lives, there is much to be gained in slowing down to properly see, rather than just look at things.

 In the book there are two lovely quotations which I'd like to share with you. The first is by the twentieth century Christian monk Thomas Merton.

 Stop looking and begin seeing! Because looking means you already have something in mind for your eye to find; you've set out in search of your desired object and have closed off everything else presenting itself along the way. But seeing is being open and receptive to what comes to the eye.

 The second is from the Japanese spiritual writer Kosuke Koyama who recommends his readers to discover ways of slowing down their lives to ‘3 mph', metaphorically, if they want to reconnect with their true selves. He says:

 God walks ‘slowly' because he is love. If he is not love he would have gone much faster. Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed... It is slow yet it is lord over all other speeds since it is the speed of love. It goes on in the depth of our life, whether we notice or not, whether we are currently hit by a storm or not, at three miles an hour. It is the speed we walk and therefore it is the speed the love of God walks.

 This month ends the church's year and in December we begin a new year on Advent Sunday. We have walked the path of the birth, life and death of Jesus over the past 11 months, and have reflected on what God's love means as we have journeyed on. As we look back over the year, and ahead to a new one, let us try and walk slowly, with our hearts and eyes open afresh, to glimpse where God is - and where love is - in places and people and ways which we might least expect. May God surprise us with new views and changed perspectives.

 With my prayers,






The Methodist Covenant Prayer


I am no longer my own but yours.

Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,

exalted for you or brought low for you.

Let me be full, let me be empty,

let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

 to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.



"BE PREPARED"  Our Lord tells us that he will come again... but he doesn't say when!  For over 2000 years people have been waiting but it could be tomorrow!


St Martin's Church, Church Lane,  Ashton-upon-Mersey,  Sale,  Cheshire ,    M33 5QQ  

0161 976 4086 
0161 973 4204