Category: Parish


Chocolate calendars, numbed shopping malls, new oil deals, and an unHoly Land. Dare we pray the prayer of Advent? Dare we not?

It is easy to become disillusioned, despairing almost, of the direction of travel that we, as a global species, appears to be taking. Western society seems infatuated with technological ‘progress’ irrespective of cost or consequence, and commercial interests have come to dominate most decision-making. How many sci-fi films do we need to warn us before the ultimate destination of, for example, artificial intelligence, is inevitable? But the alternative rise of so-called ‘populism’ demonstrates a dark, fear-driven revolt against the perceived threat to self-interest. The ‘other’, the ‘not us’, has become a target to rail against, to blame; exactly what happened in 1930s Germany.

There are those who work behind the scenes, refusing to give in to these seemingly insurmountable forces, whose agenda is to help bring about a better world where care and kindness towards people and environment are the measure of our action and ‘telos’, or endpoint. But their gains are hard won and easily overturned.

Prophets have rarely been popular figures. Their warnings and offers of an alternative way upset too many, especially those with something to lose. The way we have structured our societies places inordinate power, and therefore trust, in the hands of the few. Whether they be public politicians who make laws and direct policies, hoping to keep our vote, or private board-room directors who exploit human weakness and need, for power and wealth, their decisions shape our society, subtly influencing our values, often cynically, by making us feel inadequate compared to others, and then appealing to the self in us to become like them. Perhaps we need a few more David Attenboroughs who can command our respect and affection while encouraging us to walk a different path, the path of compassion and care for creation.

This ‘different path’ is the Advent calling, set, as it is, in the approach to the darkest part of the year, when the forces that would exploit us by playing to our interests of self-preservation are most powerful. The prayer ‘Come’ requires us to prepare ourselves, to be brutally honest about who we are, both in our vulnerability and in our self-interest. For when we are, terrifying as this may be, we are met by the One who loves us with a passion that will lead him to the Cross on our behalf.

Dare we pray the prayer? Dare we not?

The Bewcastle Benefice sermon for Advent Sunday 2023 can be found here.

Permanent link to this article:

Bewcastle Benefice Newsletter – December 2023

The benefice newsletter for December 2023 is now available to view or download here.

Permanent link to this article:

Bewcastle Benefice Newsletter – November 2023

The benefice newsletter for November 2023 is now available to view or download here.

Permanent link to this article:

Pearl Diving

For over 2000 years Japanese women, known as ama, have descended to depths of over 30m underwater, in a single breath lasting over two minutes, in search of pearls. They descend into the darkness where all colour has vanished. Only silence, shadows and outlines remain. It is a place of extreme cold and danger where few ever venture. They do it 100-150 times a day, and continue into their eighties, needing to retrieve a ton of oysters in their nets to find four or five decent pearls. Not many of us will ever experience the physical and physiological hardship of such a way of life.

But many of us do experience the depth of darkness of physical or emotional pain, loneliness, loss, or other forms of suffering. It can seem like a place without end, without hope, devoid of joy or happiness, no ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, just continual darkness. For some, the weight of bearing pain, or caring for others, can be relentless, lasting for years, For others, traumatised by experiences of years ago, or who have suffered abuse of one form or another, it can seem like being trapped in a suffocating cage from which there is no way out.

Paul, in his letter to the church in Rome, grapples with the depths on his own failure as a human being. Although he begins with a summary of the mess the world is in (chapter 1), describing our struggles with fallenness, he descends further and further into the darkness of our own, and ultimately his, sinful nature (chapter 7) – “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

It is true that he passes the beautiful corals of Christ’s work on his way down (chapters 5 and 6), and they hint at the treasure below. But he must make that descent himself first, before he can find the pearl of great price for which he seeks in the darkness of his innermost despair.

The Bewcastle Benefice sermon for the 8th Sunday after Trinity (2023) can be found here.

Permanent link to this article:

New Folk Session

Starting a new folk tunes session (not a singaround) at The Black Lion, Hethersgill on the last Monday of the month, beginning 30th October 2023, 7.30pm (not Xmas Day, which is the last Monday this year!). Maddy Prior will try and join us when she’s around (including the first session). Anyone welcome to come along and join in with an instrument, or come to listen.

Here’s a mixed list of 12 tunes so we have something in common to begin with, and then build on that with whatever anyone brings to play or sing. If you’re unsure of any of the tunes, you can find them on The Session.


The Kesh (G)

Out on the Ocean (G)

Slip Jigs

Foxhunters (D)

The Snowy Path (D)


Tam Lin (Bm)

Drowsy Maggy (Em)


Harvest Home (D)

King of the Fairies (Em)


Ballydesmond (Am)

Egan’s (D)


Leaving Stoer (G)

Inisheer (G)

Be good if you could indicate if you fancy coming so I have a vague idea of numbers.

Permanent link to this article:

Apple Pressing 2023

Greenholme, Saturday 7th October, 2-4pm. Come along, bring all the apples you can manage, and some containers for juice, and join the fun. We’ll wash them, cut them, macerate them and press them. The juice is always just the best – as fresh as can be! Everyone welcome, no cost. You can find us here.

Permanent link to this article:

Bewcastle Benefice Newsletter – October 2023

The benefice newsletter for October 2023 can be viewed or downloaded here.

Permanent link to this article:

Bewcastle Benefice Newsletter – September 2023

Distraught, one of our children rang recently to say that her beloved Lurcher with whom for 11 years she had shared just everything, had come to the end of her days.
“ I’ve had to ask the vet to call “.
Those of you who have pets will know exactly how she felt…

The benefice newsletter for September 2023 with a letter from Bishop John Richardson can be found here.

Permanent link to this article:

Beth-El – House of God?

Duplicity. Abraham complies with his wife’s scheming and then denies his firstborn. Isaac is tricked by his second-born with the help of his mother’s plotting. Jacob indulges his wives’ bitter rivalry, and so spawns the twelve tribes of Israel. The Patriarchs of Israel are a sorry bunch, for whom ‘integrity’ was not a word that carried much currency. And yet. And yet God chose them. Promised to bless the world through them – schemers and dreamers though they were.

But perhaps it was the dreaming for which they were chosen? All of them ‘heard’ God speak words of promise. What does it mean to ‘hear’ God? How do you know it’s God speaking and not your own imagination, or madness? Then again, they were all exceptionally wealthy, so perhaps they weren’t mad after all.

But Jacob has fled from his brother, having deceived his father into giving him the blessing of the firstborn, which his brother, in a moment of rash stupidity (and probably joking), had agreed to give him in exchange for a bowl of stew, and been sent off by his mother to her brother’s household in search of a wife.

Alone and in the darkness of the wilderness, Jacob dreams a dream: God promises to bless his offspring and the whole world. So he calls the place ‘beth-el’, house of God.

But what, really, is this ‘house of God’ that Jacob attempts to locate in the wilderness? Paul, in his majestic letter to the Romans, unpacks the promise, and our place in it.

The Bewcastle Benefice sermon the the 7th Sunday after Trinity can be found here.

Permanent link to this article:

Bewcastle Benefice Newsletter – August 2023

The benefice newsletter for August is now available to view and download here.

Permanent link to this article:

Load more