Letter from the Manse

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Keeping vows

“I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfil my vows to you, vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble”.. “I will fulfil my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people” (Psalms 66:13, 116:14).

The psalmists often made vows to God. And then they reminded themselves that they must fulfil their vows. The writer of Ecclesiastes warns us, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it”.

Do you remember the vows you made …

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So this is Christmas?

Twenty-five shopping days to Christmas…

Christmas is a dilemma for us all. For years, Scrooge-like, I muttered and groaned about Christmas. I said that I’d like to abolish it completely. I refused to put up any decorations in my home. I sent as few cards as I could decently get away with. I never managed to escape Christmas entirely. But some Christians do. They simply ignore the Christmas season. They send no cards, accept no presents, sing no …

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Memorising the Bible

I hope you can read this! We take it for granted that most people can read. But that was not true in Bible times. In the Greek and Roman world, only a small minority of people ever learned to read. The proportion of Jewish men who could read was certainly higher, but there were still many who never learned – and of course, it was almost unknown for a Jewish woman to read or write. Another fact we tend to forget is that there were no printed books. …

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Albania

Albania… a wonderful, tragic, beautiful, confusing country. Perhaps the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. The astonishing blue of the Adriatic sea, the towering mountains, the rivers and lakes, clear as crystal.. there are times when you catch your breath in awe. But oh, the mess. A giant demolition site – broken roads, rusted bridges, crumbling concrete bunkers, piles of rubble everywhere. Hardly a building standing intact. Did it all just fall apart, ruined by the ravages of time …

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Students

Within the next few weeks 150,000 young people will arrive in Manchester to study. (Manchester has the largest student population in Europe.) They will come from all over the UK and from all across the world. Some are returning from their summer break having already spent a year or more here. Others will arrive as “freshers”. For many it will be their first experience of living away from home and family.

In past years we have been grateful for the …

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