Jan 27, 2023


January 25th was particularly auspicious for me this year! Why? Because not only is it the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul but I discovered another meaning of a ‘Sleeper Train!’ Living next to Spinney Meadow, I have watched with interest the East West Rail development. On Jan 25th a new line was laid right by our house by the ‘Sleeper Train’ which you might be able to make out in the picture crossing the bridge over Little Horwood Lane. I was so excited - like a child with a new toy!

In line with my theme - the EWR line is also a conversion – from the old Varsity Line, to one I am really looking forward to using next year (well that’s the plan). Few of us experience a Damascus Road experience with an epiphany like Saint Paul’s. In reality it can be a bit of a slow burn … a gradual project over several years, like the conversion of the railway line.

Another word for conversion is Greek word ‘Metanoia.’ It means a ‘Renewal of the Mind’ which we translate as Repent. This word inspired a Quiet Day I am leading for a parish in April which I have called ‘Metanoia – let your Mind be transformed!’ based on Romans 12.12:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Metanoia is is a slow process and, like the EWR link, takes a big investment – not of money but of time, for meditation, prayer, reflection and thought. I commend to you a free daily meditation you might try: - the music can be a bit ‘iffy!’ but the meditations are always worth a listen. You might sample the meditation for Jan 25th – I found it particularly good. Maybe it could be something to consider during Lent.

We are never too old to change our mind – which neuroscience describes as Neuroplasticity. My teacher has a saying. Its summed up by the saying:

‘Where attention goes, neural firing flows and neural connections grow.’

Daily meditation is a way we can change our mind … but unlike a similar word ‘medication’ the only side effect is a changed way of living and most importantly ‘loving.’ Paul, we are told in Galatians, returned to Jerusalem after 14 years – so even his conversion was a slow burn - so we cant expect an overnight change. However, it’s well worth the investment and like the new EWR line – it promises some exciting journeys.

With every blessing,

Canon Alan

Readings for Sunday

Hebrews 10:32-39

But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet
‘in a very little while,
   the one who is coming will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one will live by faith.
   My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.’
But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.

Mark 4:26-34

He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.