Saturday, November 23, 2013
Sunday, December 09, 2012
Friday, December 16, 2011
Here beginneth the Annual Christmas epistle from the Smiths of Preston, And so in the 400th year of the King James Bible an appropriate quote
2 Kings 4:14 And he said, What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no child, and her husband is old…
It feels a bit like that because 2011 has been the year of the empty nest. Martha left home for the Arts University College of Bournemouth a few days after her 18th birthday and thankfully a year before tuition fees went up, to start a course in Arts events management. With Marcus in his second year of Theology at Kings College London (having a whale of a time sharing a house behind the Elephant and Castle with four others) and Oscar having departed to the Feline Felicitude cat’s home in the sky. With only Jane, Greg and the Mightly Labrador Pawz to share our spacious home, it seems even more spacious and quiet than usual.
Greg turned 60 in September – well of course that is not really old and I don’t feel old at all – just achy sometimes. But it has it’s benefits, free prescriptions and best of all the Senior Railcard, which makes traveling flexible and affordable, and even gets you £2 off on our local Ribble Steam Railway. Since March I’ve been working half time as Research Manager for the Evangelical Alliance which requires a fair bit of travel to London, the railcard is a real boon. The other half of working life has been co-ordinating the Preston Christian Action Network, bringing Christians together to tackle homelessness, poverty, unemployment and other forms of disadvantage in our city. I’m also fitting in a bit of academic work, published another paper on faith and volunteering and just got back from a conference in Antwerp, duly loaded down with photos of Antwerp and Brussels and Belgian chocolates. I’m feeling really happy and fulfilled in the current phase of my vocation.
Jane is still with the Lancashire Probation Trust, working long hours delivering group work programmes to high risk offenders across the county. She suffered the indignity of having to apply for her own job, but at least was reappointed.. Working in the public sector isn’t what it used to be with cuts and insecurities about jobs and pensions – so she was on the London demo and joined the strike at the end of November. Once a month on a Friday night she has interesting experiences in her role as a Street Pastor.
Together we have started this year to do fortnightly volunteering session fro the Wildlife Trust at their new Brockholes nature reserve. Well worth a visit if you are in these parts. We also moved to a new church this year, not an easy process as there were some push factors at St Stephens and we were pretty unsure about the pull factors in terms of a calling to St Matthews. But we have now settled in and travel across town on Sundays to a parish that serves the East End of Preston. It has most of the social characteristics of London’s East End – multiculturalism, poverty, low church attendance – but without the house prices, Canary Wharf or the Olympic building site.
We managed to get holiday breaks in Scotland with the relatives, with our friend Catherine in Swanage, and at Greenbelt. It was also a year of about four funerals and a wedding, not that all of us attended all of them, but we lost people in our friendship circle here and in Newham, and Jane’s nephew got wed in November up in Scotland. It’s also been sad to see people we know struggling with addiction after a period of stability, and others losing a job and struggling to get by. We really count our blessings in terms of good health, worthwhile employment, kids growing up, thriving and following Jesus and lots more.
We wish you all a Blessed Christmas and a Shalom filled New Year.
Luke 1 78Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Are you fed up with annual round robin letters from friends you haven’t heard from for a year (or 30 years)? You may even be fed up of the ritual newspaper articles complaining or chuckling about this year’s crop of family trivia such as what you will find on the following web pages.
Go on keep clicking and you won’t have to read ours…
So if you got past that lot you really must be keen to know about what the Smiths of Preston have been up to in 2010. So I suppose if the Queen can send a message to the Commonwealth so can we… Here goes,
husband dear wife and I began the year with a state visit to Spain to mark the occasion of the 500th 20th anniversary of the our wedding of Catherine of Arragon to Henry VIII. If you want to see a photo of how we were in 1990 have a look on My Facebook. We were hoping to get away from the snow but guess what, it snowed there too.. (see http://picasaweb.google.com/gregmaistersmith/Madrid#5426712937163860930 and many more pix in that album). We dined in state at paid to get into the Royal Palace and enjoyed meeting King Juan Carlos a photographer from Madrid who is also on Picasa http://picasaweb.google.com/JuanCrls2009 had already taken a lot of photos which inspired my efforts…
Having just received a communication from the palace that HM’s message is copyright with a reminder of what can happen to wikkid leakers and bishops who disapprove of royalty I think we had better hand over to the usual speech writer..
In the Smith household in 2010:
Pawz the dog continues to demand long walks, regular swims in the river and prodigious amounts of food, while Oscar the cat asserts authority over him and the rest of the household. When we went away for a holiday in Cornwall in July, or to Scotland for niece Bridget’s wedding in October (photos here) the animals have a good friend Jill who looked after them.
Martha is in her A level year hoping to find a university place in fashion design while enjoying a great social life at college, at her church and with local friends.
Marcus is in his first year at university, doing theology at Kings College London seems to be doing well and enjoying life though it is all N.T. Greek to me. He is using a new road bike to commute through the streets between hall in Hampstead and lectures at college on The Strand in 20 minutes). Is it 30 years since his dad was doing similar speeds between Russell Square and Canning Town?
Jane is still working full time for Lancashire Probation and meets some really difficult characters (mostly staff and managers!). Too much evening work too often, but she usually can be at home on Fridays. She has also started walking the streets of Preston late on Friday nights as one of the Street Pastors team.
Greg would love to spend even more of his time travelling around taking photos, growing vegetables and cycling in the warm sunshine. Managed two days in the far north west of Scotland and a day in Cleethorpes as well as lots of Steam Trains. But in the real world there is work to be done and sometimes some money comes in return. Until September he worked for the Salvation Army, then took redundancy not knowing what was next. But Blessed be God and the Church Urban Fund who have taken him on (self employed for the time being) to develop a support network for Christians social action in this part of Lancashire. Have a look at the web site http://pcanprestonchristianactionnetwork.yolasite.com/ if you want more information about this. Also has managed to do some academic writing and conferences in the course of the year, been short-listed or interviewed for a number of posts but appears to be heading to a renewed calling in networking urban mission with some mix and match consultancy or research commissions.
We are still involved in the parish church round the corner, which acquired a new vicar recently. The future is open …and hopes include a senior’s rail card for Greg next year… but much more beyond that too. (Three of us have enjoyed reading Tom Wright’s “Surprised by Hope” this year. We still have an open door (literally most of the time despite the cold weather) and are usually quite hospitable if you are passing this way.
We are all on facebook too if you want to make contact that way.
Greg & Jane Smith 34 Broadgate. Preston PR1 8DU
Phone no. 01772 827987
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Pawz the Dog can smell "food" at 300 metres and has a habit of disappearing on walks through Avenham Park.. This explains the following email to the Council
Back in September I raised with the Environmental Health Department (with email copies to local councillors) the issue of the disgusting state and vermin risk of the bin store in Avenham park which serves the cafe in the Pavilion. Black bin bags full of food waste are often strewn anywhere about the area as the bins and or clearance regimes are obviously not adequate for the amount of waste produced. I have also raised the issue several times with park staff and with cafe staff. I have also now emailed three times oficers in environmental health. Apart from one email acknowledgement and promise to investigate from them, it is apparent no action has been takenand the problem remains as bad as ever. My question is this. Why has the council, now they are well aware of the problem not managed, to resolve it? Why can they not do the obvious thing which is to install an additional large bin, and / or increase the frequency of collections sending an invoice to the cafe as it is their business that generates this excessive waste?
Sunday, December 20, 2009
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!
At His Word the worlds were framèd; He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean in their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun, evermore and evermore!
He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below, evermore and evermore!
O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!
This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!
O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!