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Blog posts

This is a blog written by the Vicar and Associate Vicar, where we'll aim to post some thoughts about the Christian life and what's going on in the world. Hopefully you will find Christian encouragement there for your week, comment on current events and a few thoughts to stimulate your own thinking on topics that relate to being a disciple.

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Diary of an Apprentice - Week 7 


Hannah O'Donnell, 3rd December 2021

I moved house! I moved into my new home with Caitlin and it is beautiful. 

Sorry, I was so excited to tell everyone that I moved house that I forgot to say hi. Hi everyone! :)

I have to admit, the kitchen is kind of freezing but it's so pretty and the cold was nothing a gifted pair of slippers and a dressing gown couldn't fix. Living in Keekle now, I'm much closer to church and to work as an apprentice in general (especially saving lots of petrol money), so I've been able to get involved with lots...

This week I've been volunteering at Cornerstone and also taking a Cornerstone bookstore to Tiny Tots. It was a great opportunity to offer Christian books to the parents of the 'tiny tots' - I've found making conversations with these mums and dads really scary but the bookstall was a great, easy conversation starter. It was a clear answer to prayer, prayer that ways to get to chat to the parents would arise. Thank you Lord. So, what else have I done this week? Well, I've also been along to Pathfinders and to CYFA again. At CYFA, I was giving the teaching this week. Sunday, was actually my birthday and I thought that having to do something that made me nervous - like giving a talk - on my birthday would be a real chore. But in actual fact, I enjoyed chatting to the CYFA members a lot - it's a small group, but a seriously encouraging group. At Pathfinders, Nathan (my co-apprentice) was giving his first teaching to the group. He was speaking again on the 'I am' statements of Jesus and this week he was looking at 'the resurrection and the life'. It was nice to see a close friend whom I've grown up with, spreading the good news of Jesus passionately. 

On Wednesday, I attended the lunchtime club led by NISCU at Whitehaven Academy. I'm really enjoying building close, trusting relationships with a couple of specific girls - it excites me to know that the Holy Spirit is working in both my heart and their hearts to bring us closer to one another and hopefully eventually closer to God. Relationships take a lot of time, effort and patience to build up - but when they are being built upon the cornerstone of a love for Jesus and desire to share him with everyone, it suddenly becomes so much easier to keep trying and waiting. Thank you Jesus for continually providing me opportunities to spread your good news - you are amazing. 

After getting home from the North West Partnership on Thursday, as normal, I attended 'Living Room'. We have just finished going through the book of Hebrews. At first, I found it really difficult to stay concentrated and to take away something from the group. But, as we neared the end I was gaining more and more. For example, in our last session, we had a really eye-opening discussion about greed and the contrast between worldly and biblical views of money. For December, we are going through Robin Ham's Advent Devotional 'Finding Hope Under Bethlehem Skies'. Everyone at 'Living Room' is using this book for their quiet times in December. Every Thursday, we will meet to chat about what we've learnt. I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say.

Hannah's fact of the week: 
I think I come across to a lot of my friends and family that I am a strong extrovert who loves to socialise and spend time with others. And, don't get me wrong, I do love spending time with those I love, but it really does exhaust me. When I'm at home I spend a lot of time alone, enjoying my own company. So, perhaps you could say I was more of an introvert? Who knows? 
My Father in Heaven does!

The Rocking Carol


Neil Smalley, 6th December 2021


    In September, 1946, just after my 5th birthday, I started school, and that Christmas, for our Nativity concert, we all learned the Rocking Carol. I was enchanted, intrigued- puzzled, even, but all very enjoyably so. What puzzled me was where were we going to get a coat of fur? I didn’t know anyone who possessed such a treasure, because to lend baby Jesus such a rarity, we would have to borrow it from someone living on a much more elevated plain of existence than the one we inhabited.

    Although it didn’t mean anything to me that the war was over, and we were still under rationing, I was still vaguely aware that our lives were very much restricted. I was aware that there were some standards of living, possession and behaviour that belonged to people on the wireless and in stories, but they were in a different world from our ‘one up and one down’ inner city slum yard house, with outside toilet shared with another family, and one air-raid shelter in the yard for 24 households.

    The nearest I could get, in my mind, to a coat of fur was Bella Wagstaff in the top corner of the yard. She had what was identified as a fox fur tippet. Imagine a strip of dark fur (definitely not fox coloured) three inches wide about two feet long. On one end dangled two boneless legs, with claws, a narrow face with glass eyes and a black shiny bead of a nose, while the other end sported two similar legs with claws, plus a very modest, wisp of a tail. Not at all fox-like; not at all impressive, in fact it was rather repulsive in a sad sort of way. Even baby Jesus would have been startled by it, or perhaps frightened, and been sick over it.

    Now the rocking bit, I really enjoyed. I’d seen Lillian Gregory (lived on ‘the Front’- road in front of the yard) sitting on the step and rocking her baby girl, Winnie, so I knew how to do it properly, gently, not like Harry Garfitt. He looked like he was going to chuck baby Jesus over the school gate. In fact most of the other kids were the same. You could tell the ones with younger siblings- ones like Alice Scholey. She had several, and was obviously her mother’s second in command. She was ‘Mary’ and even at five years old, she was an expert at lifting baby Jesus up across her shoulder, and patting his back to ‘wind’ him.

    The bit that really grabbed me by the throat, the heart, even, was the last phrase- ‘…darling, darling little Man’. We were saying that to Jesus! In the short time we had been at school, we had sort of adjusted and got used to vicars, teachers and such going on in their sort of ‘bible speak’ like Holy and merciful Father, and creator of the universe, omnipotence, and lots of thees and thous and thines, and often in a singy songy smarmy voice, like singing badly through their noses, and here we were talking to baby Jesus like Ivy Mazlin did to her little brother, Billy- like he was one of ours!- One of our own! I could just hear Ivy singing out ‘Come ‘ere our Jesus! What ‘ave you got on your face!’

    And this is what we are in danger of losing, as we grow up- The fact that Jesus is ours; brother. minder, pal, leader of our gang, role model, best mate. You know you can rely on him to talk sense, advise, back you up, not leave you in the lurch, nor fob you off, never let you down.

    I suppose I’ve moved a long way on from the Rocking Carol, but so has Jesus. We never did find him that coat of fur. Never mind. As Christina Rossetti says in ‘In the Deep Mid-winter’ = What shall I give him? Give him my heart.



Diary Of An Apprentice - Week 6 


Hannah O'Donnell, 19th November 2021

An interesting blog post is in store for you readers this week, I’ve had a very eventful week!

So it started off relaxed and enjoyable. I had much less to do than usual which was a nice change to bring me some much-needed rest. However, the Lord had other plans.

In fact, the Lord had very, very different plans… I actually lost control of my beloved car, Burtie, and crashed into a stone wall :( many sad faces. I completely wrote off the car, losing the entire front end. BUT, where there is trial, there is blessing! Neither I nor my passenger were hurt at all; we remained entirely unscratched despite the state of the car. We were protected by the loving, sovereignty of the Lord. Yes, I was massively shaken after the event and I found it hard to focus on anything other than the idea that we - and many others - could’ve been seriously hurt, but it forced me to remember that the Father is always in control. Everything is part of His divine and perfect plan. He was also reminding me that He is with me in EVERYTHING. Never will He leave me and never will He forsake me (Deuteronomy 31v6). He was with me when I lost control of the wheel. He was with me when I drove into the wall and spun. He was with me when I got out of the car, shaking. He was with me through the generosity of passersby stopping to look after us. He was with me through the gentleness of the policeman. He was with me in the days after, sorting insurance, transport and a new car. Thank you Jesus, you never leave me to fend alone.

I realise that this seems irrelevant to the 'Diary of an Apprentice' but it's actually had a huge impact on my working week. I've had to be much more organised with transport to and from all the various activities I'm involved in throughout the week. Therefore, it has been an extremely humbling experience. I've been forced to rely on the compassion of others and the provision of the Lord rather than on my own abilities.

Another plot twist to the story of my week involved the one and only, Coronavirus. Thankfully, it was not myself that COVID managed to infect, but unfortunately it was one of my brothers in Christ - David. It turned out to have a much greater affect on my week that I had expected:

  • I had to step in during our 11am church service on Sunday to present the visuals. I have done this on many an occasion for the 9am service, however that service has much less to present. For the 11am, I had to learn the new skill of presenting videos rather than just powerpoints and learn how to link what I was doing to the 'Audio' team.
  • I had to do last-minute preparations for the mid-week youth group, Pathfinders. That involved finding an appropriate leader to come alongside me and JB (the other Pathfinders leader) and coming up with a game that would be enjoyed on short notice. I wouldn't say the game went spectacularly, or as planned, but the kids seemed to enjoy it with the new variations that they invented themselves!
  • In this coming week, I now need to prepare a talk to present to the 'Pathfinders' next Tuesday as David will still be in isolation then. During the teachings at minute, we are going through the 'I am's of Jesus'. So far we have looked at 'The Good Shepherd', 'The Bread of Life' and 'The Way, The Truth and The Life'. I intend to bring some teachings on the statement from Jesus: 'I am the Light of the World'. I'm actually looking forward to learning more about this statement myself, it's really encouraging knowing that Jesus brought light to a dark, sinful world.
Prayer points for me this week would be that the house move goes smoothly and that I would be able to use my time wisely and effectively to finish all the jobs I have this week without lazy procrastiation. Have a lovely week :)

Hannah's Fact of the Week:
I am missing a knuckle in my right hand! It seems non-existant in my little finger but I figure, surely, it must be there somewhere... Right? And seemingly not having this right hand knuckle makes my pinky-finger much much smaller than my pinky-finger on my left hand. A very weird quirk, but I love it. If you see me at church, youth groups or around Whitehaven and you want to see this peculiar sight, feel free to ask!

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