Robert's Ruminations

Thoughts from Emmanuel's Minister, Revd. Robert Hurley

Looking behind the image

      What does a face tell us about a person?  During the last couple of weeks, I have been researching online the portraits painted by Dame Laura Knight. During her lifetime (1877-1970) she was one of the most popular and successful painters in Britain. Her achievements were recognised in 1929 when she was created a Dame and in 1936 when she became the first woman to be elected to the Royal Academy of Arts since its foundation in 1768.

      As I looked at her paintings, I reflected on how each of the portraits expressed a vivid sense of the personality of the sitter. Kathleen Manners, 9th Duchess of Rutland was painted by Laura Knight in 1934. The portrait captures her fragile beauty but also a sadness in her eyes. The role of the wife of a Duke was not an easy one and the painter seems to have a deep understanding of her sitter’s life. This was no doubt helped by the five weeks she spent at Haddon Hall, the family seat in Derbyshire, working on the portrait.

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Love in Action

                   Over the years of my ministry I must have conducted well over forty weddings. I always enjoy meeting the couple, talking with them and planning their marriage service. For each of them their wedding is a special day that has been looked forward to for months or even years. However, when the big day is over and the guests have dispersed, they go back to making their relationship work. This means putting love into action. This is exactly what Paul is describing in his letter to Corinth when he talks about love being patient, kind, protecting, trusting and hopeful. This is not an airy-fairy sentimental love; it is a love that is worked out in daily thoughtfulness, care and kindness. This links in with Jesus’s story of the Good Samaritan. The Priest and the Levite looked at the injured man by the Jericho road and might even had some love and care for him. But it was the Samaritan who turned love into action.

                   That practical caring love has been a hallmark of Christians over the centuries. I have seen it vividly during this time of self- isolation when many friends and neighbours have been willing show love in many caring and thoughtful ways.

                   Overarching all our thoughts about love is the example of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He came to earth to reveal God’s love and his whole life and sacrificial death was an expression of love. We reflect on his words, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

                   We give thanks to God for his gift of love to us and the joy we know through sharing that gift with others. We also rejoice in the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the fruits of that work which so enrich our lives and the community of which we are a part.


Rev Jonathan Froggatt

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Quiet Time

I was talking to a friend recently about the books we had been reading over the last few months. My friend, who has a deep interest in Methodist history, had been reading Roy Hattersley’s biography of John Wesley. I have immense respect for Mr Wesley and revere him for his vital role in the founding of the Methodist church. However, my friend confirmed my suspicions that John was the patron saint of workaholics. He woke to pray at 5.00 am and never seemed to slow down and take things easy. I suppose the reality is that if he hadn’t had such an amazing work rate, Methodism would have remained an obscure sect; active around Bristol, the wilder parts of Cornwall and nowhere else. Of course, it was his burning Christian conviction that drove him out on his horse, preaching and teaching across the country. However, having said all this, I still feel like saying to him and others who follow in his footsteps, slow down a bit.

One of my favourite poems is The Bright Field by RS Thomas. He wrote in his poem about missing the opportunity to stop and relish the beauty of the sun breaking through and illuminating a field.

           Life is not hurrying on to a receding future,
           nor hankering after an imagined past. It is the turning
           aside like Moses to the miracle of the lit bush. . .

I believe that God calls us all to have that ability to stop and be quiet for a while; to really enjoy a painting, a flower or a sunset. Maybe those quiet spaces will be one of the times that God can speak to us.

This Lent and Easter time I pray that you will all have time to be still and reflect on the wonder of God’s amazing grace revealed for us all in Jesus Christ.

God bless you all


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