Literary Festival, New Book, Fort William, Bethlehem Etc.

CHRISTMAS LETTER 2023 from Ray Simpson, Lindisfarne Links, 7 Wallace Green, Berwick Upon Tweed, TD15 1EB, UK.


It has been lovely to receive visits from old friends who also enjoy this top-ten tourist destination of Berwick Upon Tweed and perhaps a day on Lindisfarne.  You can stay at Berwick YHA or The Parade B&B a few doors down.

Travel is now a risk, but my sister Sally and I trained to Fort William in the beautiful Scottish Highlands and enjoyed an excursion on the ‘Harry Potter line’ to Mallaig.

I prayed for an IT assistant.   At the new local Orthodox congregation I met John Campion, who had graduated from uni and had to fill in a year before emigrating to Cyprus. He was a great help.  Please pray for a replacement.

My local church of Holy Trinity with St. Mary Berwick (the most northerly C of E church in England) has at least 18 months without a vicar. So ordained pensioners are being stretched to sustain some four Eucharists and thirteen daily prayer services each week. Since I only have to walk across the road I often unlock the church for morning prayer.

Visits to pilgrims on Holy Island punctuate the year, and zoom and email communications around the world continue. As does writing. The crowning fruit of thirty years with the Community of Aidan and Hilda will be published on 2 February, A Way of Life for the Third Millennium. This yearbook has fifty two chapters, each a commentary on a segment of our way of life or constitution, with psalms, Old Testament and New Testament readings for each day of the week, thus forming a yearly companion. Please contact me if you can arrange a book launch near a rail station or by zoom.

Henri Nouwen wrote ‘How can I now so live that when I die, my death will be an optimal blessing, to my family, my church, and the world?’  Writing is my way of blessing others. I frequently add sentences to ‘Letters to My Spiritual Family’ which can be sent quarterly to Community of Aidan and Hilda members for a decade.

Britain’s National Health Service is breaking down but Social Services have been marvellous in providing me with end-of-life facilities in the home.

Christmas festivities have been cancelled in Bethlehem. A Lutheran pastor at its Holy Nativity church says ‘The only place Jesus is being born is under the rubble with the people in Gaza’. Seek out rejected, brutalised, hurting people on all sides in your sphere and let Jesus be born anew.

At Berwick Literary Festival Rowan Williams signed a copy of his book 100 poems for searching the heart. This includes a poem about Mary of Nazareth by John Burt in which Mary’s vocation is to teach God how to live a fully human life, how to make Jesus’ life gift, not campaign.  Those in CAH vows seek the trail of ‘the full human being’. In 2024 may you go further on this trail. A Happy New Year!




Posted at 16:52pm on 15th December 2023
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