Oh yes… you might be wondering how things are going.

Hi folks. Sorry to have neglected you… this convalescing lark is quite busy. Yes I could have multitasked while doing something else. But I didn’t. No reasons. No excuses. Sorry.

For anyone interested in how I’m doing after the surgery the short answer is that I am making slow and gentle progress. Each day I try to keep mobile and in particular go for a walk outside. Each day I try to extend the distance slightly and aim to get home feeling slightly out of breath but not breathless.

I’ve managed to get out and about. Church on Easter Sunday morning is really special and I was determined to be there. Made it! I’ve also made it to my local Magic Club. I usually feel pretty tired afterwards but it’s good to be doing ‘normal’ things outside the house.

I’m now on a cardiac rehab programme (starts beginning of May) and hope to have a timetable for a phased return to work soon. I’m not rushing back but am keen to have some targets.

I knew this phase would be frustratingly slow. But it’s important to be patient as my body heals. As always I really appreciate all of the messages of support and encouragement and all of your prayers.

Be blessed, be a blessing


Hello my bloggist chums. I’ve had a really positive week as I continue my convalescence following my heart ops. I had an appointment at the Cardiothoracic Centre this week and assumed it was a follow up after my additional unscheduled stay in hospital.

I had a chest x-ray and then was called in for a conversation with one of the surgical team. It felt like everything he had to tell me was good news.

My chest x-ray was completely normal. No problems at all. Yay.

They had reviewed an echo cardiogram that was taken while I was in hospital last time and that had shown that everything was going well. More than that, however, it revealed that my heart, which had been experiencing atrial fibrillation (beating out of sync), was now beating normally again and I would be able to stop the blood thinning tablets after 3 months! Woop.

He told us that the wounds had all healed properly and that I could return to a slightly more normal care regime (not needing clean pyjamas every day). Smile.

He said that he would recommend reducing the pain relief as everything was going well. Slightly scary but progress nonetheless.

Then he stunned us by saying that because of all the progress he was discharging me from the care of the surgical team! In other words, as far as they’re concerned their job with me is finished. I’ll be picked up by a cardiologist and the rehab team but as far as the CTC is concerned I’m well enough. That was so surprising that it took a while to sink in. However. Wooooooooohoooooooooo!

Thank you again for every encouraging thought, card, prayer, word and visit. I feel immensely privileged and grateful to have had so much support and I’m sure it’s contributed to my progress. There’s still a long road ahead. The rehab process is going to be tough. Losing the painkillers is painful. I’m still waiting to be told about when I can resume driving (should know next week at a pacemaker check) which will make a massive difference. I’m going to continue to pace myself but wanted to share the great news with you because you’ve been such a blessing to me.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Hospital etiquette

(This was the view from the ward window earlier in the week)

Etiquette is a bizarre thing. Nobody really knows who makes the rules of etiquette but somehow lots of people get upset if they are flouted. And even if you don’t know the rules you can still be culpable for breaches.

So maybe you can help. What’s the etiquette for telling people you’ve been in hospital? Just a quick visit to Accident and Emergency may not warrant much of a mention. But what if it becomes a longer stay? What length of stay needs mentioning, and at what point has it become embarrassing and too late to mention?

Some of the more astute among you will have realised that there’s more behind the questions than theory.

At the end of last week I had some intense sweating and (short story) ended up with my GP recommending that I go to A and E for some more tests. Those tests raised enough co cerns for me to be readmitted to the Cardiothoracic Centre. I’ve been there since (ahem) the weekend with a chest infection that they have been pleased to deal with using antibiotics.

At several times during my stay I have thought that I ought to let people know… but there have been some false dawns for hoped for returns home and other uncertainties that seemed to make it less appropriate to share news at that stage… and then time moves on…

So if anyone is miffed that I haven’t shared this sooner I do apologise. It didn’t feel that big a deal at first and once I realised it was a bit of a deal I felt a little embarrassed to say anything.

The good news is that everything seems to be returning to normal and I am hopeful that I’ll be coming home very shortly. To those who’ve been supporting and praying for me (and in the dark about this) thank you again. It does make a difference.

And if anyone can tell me what the rules are for informing people you are attending / been admitted / are remaining in hospital I’d love to know!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Three weeks I’ll never forget

So, dear bloggists, the time has come for me to let you know what’s been happening for the past 4 weeks. I will try to be brief, but a lot has happened. If you read my previous bloggage you’ll know that I went into hospital on 12th February for an aortic root replacement operation. If you don’t like medical dramas you may like to skip to the bottom of the bloggage and read the conclusion after the heading below. And as you read bear in mind that I am writing this at home so it ends well. And one final warning – this is quite a long bloggage and while it doesn’t mention everything that happened or everyone who visited, it contains the ‘highlights’ of my three weeks in hospital.

The surgeon had told me that they considered it to be serious but routine and I went in feeling confident that I would be back home and beginning my convalescence within the 7-10 days that are usual. I have no memory at all beyond having to shave myself all over (yes, there was more hair on my head than on my body, which hasn’t happened for many years!) and put on a gown the night before. The next thing I can remember is being in intensive care after the operation and it was Wednesday. The operation had gone very well and I had the expected number of tubes, wires and apparatus attached to me, including an external pacemaker to help my heart regain its rhythm after having been stopped during the operation.

Over the next few days I improved enough to be able to go to the critical care section and the number of attachments slowly reduced. But there were a couple of occasions when, without warning, I blacked out. The doctors felt that the external pacemaker was not talking properly to my heart and talked about me perhaps needing an internal pacemaker because half of my heart was not returning to normal without a pacemaker’s help.

I enjoyed my birthday in hospital (although I was still a little spaced out on painkillers) and was thrilled that my wife and both children had come to see me. That meant so much. On the following day (19th Feb) I was sat in the chair beside my bed ready to eat my breakfast. The next thing I remember is waking up on the floor with an anxious-looking nurse about 6 inches from my face asking if I could hear her.

“Hello,” I said, wondering what had happened to breakfast. Apparently I had pitched forward from my chair, hitting the breakfast table on the way down and had ended up unconscious on the floor. After a lengthy period of time as the doctors checked me out they declared that I was ready to go back to bed and told me that I must remain there. They also said that this episode confirmed to them that the external pacemaker was not doing its job and that I would almost certainly have to have an internal, permanent pacemaker fitted. I spent the rest of the day in bed, being checked on regularly by nurses. In the middle of the afternoon another patient I knew well came around to see me.

As I looked at him I felt very woozy and said, “Sorry, I don’t think I’m up for a visit at the moment…”

The next thing I remember is being flat on my back on the bed surrounded by very concerned doctors and nurses who sounded very relieved that I was conscious again. This time had been really serious and I had gone into cardiac arrest. Only the quick thinking and actions of a doctor who shocked me back to life with a defibrillator had saved my life!

As I slowly came to the doctors were saying that they wanted me back in intensive care immediately with a view to having a permanent pacemaker fitted as soon as was possible. My wife, children and my Mum and her husband were all coming to see me and were somewhat surprised that I was not on the ward. I was able to chat with them very briefly and tell them that they were fitting a permanent pacemaker, but had asked that they weren’t told about the cardiac arrest as I didn’t want them to worry even more. Astonishingly the pacemaker was installed under local anaesthetic, although while I was conscious for the operation I have no memory of it. I was back in intensive care within an hour and a half and able to tell my family what an eventful day I had had.

Over the next few days as I recovered from the second surgery I was moved back upstairs to critical care (only one floor but felt like significant progress). On 21st I was finding myself feeling really breathless and a scan revealed that my left lung had filled with fluid. Apparently this often happens as the body’s defence mechanism against physical trauma so off I went for a drain to be fitted. Back on the ward I was feeling fine and looking forward to my visitors that afternoon as my dad, my sister and her daughter were coming to see me in addition to the ever-faithful Sally and Hannah.

One of the incredible privileges I had was meeting the doctor who saved my life with the defibrillator and being able to thank him personally. It’s an incredible experience being able to shake the hand and thank the person who saved you – I still get goosebumps thinking about it!

Just as my visitors arrived the pain levels from the drain increased massively. Every breath felt like I was being stabbed and oral morphine was not helping. It can’t have been an easy visit for those who had travelled so far to see me because I was not good company at all. Unknown to me my sister, who is a nurse, went and had a word with the nurses and suggested that they increase the pain relief, which they did, and for which I am so grateful. It became bearable once again.

Over the next few days the number of wires and tubes in me reduced until on Saturday afternoon a couple of nurses interrupted Sally and Hannah’s visit to say that they were going to remove the last couple of connections. Sally and Hannah went off to the patient lounge to wait and one of the highlights of my time in hospital was being able to walk unaided to the patient lounge to get them. The look of joy on Hannah’s face will remain with me for a very long time.

On the next day I threw myself into my exercise regime, determined to be fit enough to go home very soon. On the Monday I felt tired but put it down to having perhaps overdone things on the Sunday. But when the doctors came around on their normal ward rounds they used some words I didn’t understand and said that they wanted me to have a scan to make sure everything was okay. The operator came around later that morning and gave me a form of ultrasound scan. She told me that once the doctors had seen it they would come and speak with me. I wasn’t worried. I was wireless and ready to go home. By now I had progressed along the corridor from critical care to the more general care, and the expectation was that from there patients headed out of the ward and went home.

In the afternoon a doctor came to see me and said that the sac around my heart had filled with fluid after the operations, which is a usual defence mechanism, but that instead of slowly draining away it was still filling up. It was going to need an operation to drain it and they wanted to do it sooner rather than later as my heart was struggling in all the fluid. Sally came in at her usual time and while she was with me a selection of different anaethsetists and doctors came to see us to talk about what has going to happen. It was incredibly reassuring to hear one of them say that this was the simplest procedure that they do. But it did mean another general anasthetic and as it came close to the time for the operation there was a lengthy discussion about the implications of me having both a pacemaker and an occipital nerve stimulator inside me. Because by now it was evening all of the people they needed to consult had gone home and they made the decision to wait until the next morning so that they could be certain. I was VERY happy with that plan.

So, the next morning (26th February) I had a third operation and ended back in intensive care. Someone described it as feeling like a game of snakes and ladders where you almost make it to the finish and then land on a long snake that takes you almost back to the beginning. And I’d landed there twice! This time my stay in intensive care was measured in hours not days and I was soon heading back upstairs to critical care, complete with two buckets to collect the fluid. Over the next couple of days the amount of fluid was monitored (you would not believe how much was collected) and when there was negligible change over 24 hours they decided that the drains had done they job and could be removed. I won’t describe that process other than to say, “Ouch!”

With the drains out it wasn’t long before I was back at the low care end of the corridor and beginning to anticipate going home. There were various blood parameters to get right and another scan to check that the fluid really had gone (and stayed gone) but on Tuesday 6th March, just over 3 weeks since I was admitted, I finally came home.

I don’t know if you feel slightly strange when you come home after having been away on holiday, but it felt like that – only magnified considerably. I wandered around looking at what was familiar yet unfamiliar. It felt incredibly surreal. There was a brief moment when I wondered whether this was a wonderful dream, but that I would wake up back in my hospital bed. Thankfully that sensation receded and slowly but surely it started to feel ‘normal’ again. Sally cooked me a wonderful roast beef dinner followed by blackberry and apple pie (she’d asked me what I fancied) and each mouthful felt like a privilege (particularly bearing in mind how awful the hospital food was).

Start here if you’re squeamish

So how do I reflect on all that has happened?

  • I feel an immense sense of privilege at all of the time, effort, expertise and expense that was given on my behalf to bring me to this place.
  • I am humbled at the level of support, care and love that I have experienced from the hospital staff, from my family and friends. I am also blessed beyond measure by the number of people who have been praying for me. It was almost tangible to me!
  • When I think about all that has happened to me I feel great joy that I am still here.
  • I want to praise the NHS from the rooftops. Everyone I met was so amazing. There were little moments, like the lady who brought our fresh water jugs and wiped the bottom of them so that the tables were not flooded, and massive moments, like thanking the doctor who saved my life! Let’s make sure this incredible service is never taken for granted or undermined.
  • I have experienced the depth and breadth of my family’s love for me in ways I could never have imagined beforehand. They are amazing people and I love them so much.
  • My faith in Jesus Christ has only been enhanced by all that has happened. I have known a sense of peace about everything that has never wavered, even in the most difficult of moments. And it’s the peace from God that the Bible talks about that defies human understanding. I have a greatly enhanced attitude of gratitude and know the One to whom I am most grateful!
  • I have gained a greater appreciation of the blessings of life, and indeed of life itself. I intend to make the most of what I have been given, and receive what lies ahead as a gift to be cherished, and life as something in which to flourish and bless as many others as I can.

If you have prayed for me, thought of me, sent me a card or facebook message (even just ‘liking’ one of my occasional posts), if you have supported my family and friends, if you are someone who has been taking care of me in hospital, however you have offered some encouragement, THANK YOU. It means so much to me.

There is still a lot of recuperating to do. I have ten significant new wounds in my body that will take time to heal; my stamina will need rebuilding gradually, and then it’s a process of cardiac rehab exercises once I have seen my surgeon in the middle of April. But I am determined to make the most of it! If you are interested in coming for a visit please phone in advance to check that I will be around (rather than at one of the many appointments) and allow us to space things out so it’s not too tiring (and if you call in an evening to make arrangements with Sally that would bless me).

courageous reasoning

With all the love, grace and encouragement I can muster I want to ask you to bear with me and read this bloggage to the end. It may be the most important one I have ever written.

One of the things that an imminent operation on your heart does for you is force you to face your own mortality. I have the utmost confidence in the surgeon and his team and have been assured that the risks of the surgery are minimal, but they are there nonetheless. I have had to think about and prepare for that very small possibility.

Christians believe in life after death (and life before death too). We don’t believe in reincarnation or hanging around as a ghost / spirit, but a full-blown life-as-God-intended no-holds-barred all-consuming experience of God for those who want it once we have curled up our tootsies and shuffled off this mortal coil. And when we come face to face with something that reminds us that we are not indestructible and that life is finite we have to consider whether we really believe what Jesus said.

That’s when the rubber hits the road as I have to consider whether I really believe what I proclaim.

rubber hits road

I want to say a wholehearted, unequivocal “YES!” I believe it with all my heart, mind and soul. I have staked my life on it.

One of my favourite definitions of faith is: “Reason in a courageous mood.”* You take what you can deduce, what you can learn, what you can understand and then extrapolate from that to the next logical step, and that extrapolation leads you to take a step of faith – following the trajectory of your thinking and understanding and acting on it.

So, by way of example, if you had to cross a ravine and there was a bridge there you would need to exercise faith in the bridge in order to use it and cross the ravine. Before you did you might examine the bridge to see how strong it is, you might ask other people who have used the bridge and you might even research online how and when it was constructed. But once you had come to the conclusion that it is strong enough for you to use safely you then have to take the step of faith and put that reasoning into practice by crossing the bridge. And you are encouraged when that faith is vindicated and the bridge holds.

All that I have read, considered, discerned and understood about Jesus of Nazareth confirms to me that I believe him and I believe in him. What he said makes incredible sense. What the contemporary records say about him reveal an extraordinary person. And the evidence for his resurrection is (in my view) pretty conclusive. All that points me to the conclusion that he is who he claimed to be: God with us. He is worth following and trusting and through faith in him I am able to have a relationship with God that is life in all its fullness now and beyond death. My reason has become courageous and I have been blessed, inspired and encouraged to find that this faith has been vindicated.

I want to say a hearty “Amen, amen, amen!” to these words written by Paul to the early church in Rome (Romans 8):

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? [If you read the preceding verses you see that ‘these things’ are pain, suffering and death.] If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

‘For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’[j]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You have to make your own mind up about this, but please do so on an informed basis. Faith may be reason in a courageous mood but for many people lack of faith is not cowardly reason, it’s simply that they have never considered it. The difficult thing is that although you can investigate, research, discuss, listen and discern about the Christian faith, ultimately you’ll only experience it in its fullness by taking the step of faith. It’s like a stained-glass window. From the outside you can see lots of the shapes and images in a stained-glass window but you will only really experience it in all its glory once you go inside a church and look at the light shining through it – that’s the way they were designed.

stained glass 3

If you would not say that you are a follower of Jesus and if you consider me to be someone you trust then I want to encourage you to consider his claims carefully and investigate them for yourself. Then you can decide whether to get courageous with the reason.

If you are a follower of Jesus, don’t privatise your faith – live it 24/7. If it’s good news for you it’s good news for everyone.

If maybe you are a follower of Jesus but you’ve not been actively following him you will know that he would love to welcome you back into a closer walk with him – you only have to take the first step and you’ll find that he’s already there with you.

If you have never considered these things I hope and pray that we could have a conversation about it once I have recovered from the operation, but don’t feel you have to wait for that moment – talk with another Christian.

The reason I believe all of this is not because I am a Baptist Minister. I am a Baptist Minister because I believe that this is the most important thing in life (and death) and it’s worth dedicating my life to.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*I believe this is attributed to LP Jacks from 1928, but I first heard it from one of my spiritual heroes, friends and Senior Minister in my first church: Revd David Richardson

thoughts on communion

This bloggage began its life as a ‘Thought for the week’ shared with the Ministers I serve in the Eastern Baptist Association. As you will see I have extended my thinking a little since the original ‘Thought’.

As you probably know by now I am about to undergo some surgery on 13th February, which will be followed by a period of convalescence. I was told about it about 3 months ago and have been on the waiting list ever since. (This is not a complaint about waiting lists – there were people with greater clinical need than me further up the list.) Because I could have been called at short notice at any time I have not been able to commit to meetings and events in my diary. That means that preaching engagements have been postponed because churches need a little more certainty about who will take the service than ‘I should be able to make it’. It has been frustrating. But it has also been liberating as I have found more space in my diary than I am used to and have taken the opportunity to catch up with people I haven’t had a chance to, I have done more reading than usual, and I have exercised the gift of administration and got on top of my emails and paperwork – almost emptying both the virtual and real inboxes. Now, however, I have some certainty.

One thing that has happened several times since the operation date was confirmed has made me chuckle. People have spoken to me about “the last time I will see you” or “your last meeting”. Now I know (or hope) that they have meant “the last time I will see you until after you return to work” and “your last meeting before you go on sick leave” but the apparent finality made me chuckle and I couldn’t help commenting on it along the lines of, “Do you know something I don’t?” and “That’s a bit final!” This morning as I recalled those conversations I had a glimpse of what Jesus may have felt as he was sharing the Last Supper with his closest friends. I had not really paid much attention to the element of provisional finality in what Jesus said before sharing bread and wine with the Twelve. And I had not given enough attention to how eager Jesus was to share the meal with them. “Eagerly desired” doesn’t really do justice to the passionate desire he had to share the Passover that ‘one last time’ (until…) – the Greek word ‘epithoumeo’ has the sense of ‘desperately longing for’, ‘setting one’s heart on’ and even ‘lusting after’! With that in mind, read Luke’s record of the Last Supper – (Luke 22:14-20).

14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.’

17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

At one time I was booked to have the operation just before Christmas and to be in hospital for the festive season. I was keen just to get it over with but my wife, Sally, was eager that we should have the whole family around the table for that meal. It was only in conversation with her after the operation was postponed that I realised just how important it was to her: she had set her heart on me being there because it meant something. That has helped me realise how eager Jesus would have been to share the meal with those he loved. Passover was a big deal: it meant something.

Jesus knew what lay ahead of him, and that made him even more desperate to share that special meal with these people who had become special to him. It meant something.pexels-photo-632043.jpeg

So how eager am I to share bread and wine with those I love? Sometimes, perhaps because of frequency or regularity, we may take sharing communion for granted. We add it onto the end of a service or perhaps even forget that it’s that Sunday in the month until we see that the elements have been prepared (have you had that experience too?). I am reminded of my Father’s ‘Priesting’ (Ordination in the C of E) which concluded with him leading the celebration of Communion. I was sat at the front and had received bread and wine from my Dad (what a moment!) so was watching the rest of the congregation line up. And I could see a man struggling forward from the back of the church with two walking sticks. He was really unstable and I wasn’t sure he would make it to the front. Each step looked precarious and painful but he was determined that he was going to receive bread and wine from my father on that special occasion so he persevered. It meant something!

When we share bread and wine in church do we eagerly desire to eat the meal with those we love and serve? We ought to because it means something.

pexels-photo-669730.jpegThis is the point at which my thinking has extended since I wrote the ‘Thought’. You see Jesus “eagerly desired” to share the Passover with the Twelve – his closest friends and his constant companions for the past 3 years. The very next verse in the passage reads:

21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.

Jesus shared the meal with Judas – the one he knew had already agreed to betray him. Not only that, he eagerly desired to share the meal with Judas as one of the Twelve, even though he knew that Judas had become disillusioned with him and was going to betray him.

In many churches (and I have done this sometimes) Christians seem to feel the need to either to protect people from sharing in the Lord’s Supper if they are not believers or to protect the Lord’s Supper from people who are not believers (or both). But Jesus was desperate to share this meal with a man whom he knew had decided to become his enemy! Who, or what, are we protecting when we say something like, “If you love Jesus you are welcome to take bread and wine”? And some traditions even exclude you from taking communion unless you can prove you are a Christian! One of the most heartbreaking moments in my ministry was when we had a leader from another sharing in a service in our church and when it came to communion they felt constrained by obedience to their church tradition not to share with us. They had tears running down their face at that moment because they eagerly desired to eat and drink with us.

And with the greatest of respect to those traditions, and even mine, I think we have got it so wrong. This is a meal of welcome, a meal in which an olive-branch of reconciliation is offered, a meal in which even those who feel like enemies are included. It’s also an encounter with the core of the Christian faith – a tangible, tasteable and inspirational connection with Jesus as we are reminded of the extent of his love for us and the extraordinary lengths God went to in order to offer us forgiveness and a fresh start with him. If that is the case, surely we’d want everyone to have that, wouldn’t we?

“Stop right there, you heretic!” I hear you think. Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, tells them that they should be very careful before they eat bread and wine together – there are dire consequences for doing so wrongly (1 Corinthians 11):

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.

Yup! I completely agree with you. But let’s remember that Paul was writing to a church of Christians about their behaviour, not about the behaviour of people who weren’t Christians. And the “unworthy manner” surely relates to the particular practice he was angry at where rich people ate separately from the poorer people in the church and gorged themselves while the others had meagre rations. Look at the whole of 1 Corinthians 11 (I have added italics to show the aspects of his teaching that all relate to this) and I think you’ll see what I mean.

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and ill, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

Examining ourselves is not about whether or not we are followers of Jesus, it’s about whether our behaviour has excluded some people and is creating or emphasising divisions in the church. Paul suggests that if it is, then even if the elements are right we aren’t actually sharing in the Lord’s Supper!

If you disagree with me, that’s your prerogative. And if I am asked to come to lead a service in your church and that includes leading communion I will try to respect your traditions but I will also want to be as inclusive as possible in the manner of Jesus, whom I follow and serve.

Be blessed, be a blessing.