Thursday, 18 December 2008

Last Football

Tonight was great fun with my footballing friends after a reception in Cathays Park. I can't remember the result of the football and I didn't score. It was good just to run and run. After all I have eaten this week I will have to run for a very long time after Christmas. I'm at that stage where all I had to do is slowly going away or just doesn't matter any more.

I'm also of the view that the more emails I get rid of the more come back. I'm working on that.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Parc y Scarlets

It was well worth the trip down to Llanelli. I had been asked to speak on behalf of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission at an equality event under the patronage of Carmarthen County Council.

It was a really good morning and I made lots of new friends. I also got to visit Parc y Scarlets at the same time. Awesome!!!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

West Wing Wales

Today, the cover came through for my new year book 'West Wing Wales'. I like it a lot. All I have to do now is finnish writting the book. With a lot of fantastic help from my Obama campaign friends, it's getting there!.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Peter Hain

We all make mistakes. I certainly do. One of the joys of my faith is that sins are forgiven and restoration is possible. I wish Peter Hain well for the future.

There's no comparison of course but O.J.Simpson will, quite rightly, have to wait a while before he can even think of restoration. Today, justice seems to have been done.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Winter Fair

For the first time this winter I encountered snow today. I'd like a white Christmas but travelling through the stuff today was quite challenging.

I left Swanwick for a while this morning to be a member of a discussion panel on behalf of the All Wales Convention in Builth Wells. It was good to share a platform with Kirsty Williams and Nerys Evans. Both are Assembly members. The journey was long and cold but I thoroughly enjoyed the Winter Fair at Builth. It all reminded me of my rural roots. That was good.

Fellowship was also good on my return to Swanwick. Many of us discussed challenging issues around British and Irish ecumenism late into the evening. I learnt a lot from others around several pieces of conversation that I valued.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The Midlands

Its good to be in the Midlands for a work conference on ecumenical networks. I'm feeling a little concerned tonight.

It seems that Christians are willing to work together provided it doesn't mean that they come together in any structural way. I don't know if that meets the New Testament's call for Christians to be one. I'm thinking and praying a lot about that at the moment.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Out of Contact

A big apology to everyone for not being in blog touch of late. I have been very busy since coming back from California. I had a week at home and then went to New York with the World Council of Churches for five days. It was huge fun.

I'm off again tomorrow to Swanwick. I promise to be back to my normal blogging self soon.

Please, please notice that Wales beat Australia yesterday 21:18. I gave my ticket away because I went to the ordination of two bishops. "Greater love hath no man than to give up his ticket for...bishops!!!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Coming Home

I have had the best time ever in the US and have lots of stories to tell when I'm not so tired from working on the phone banks and having a massive party in Oakland.

I came here thinking a great deal of America and its people. I was not disappointed for them or for the rest of the world that has just looked on nervously at events here: "Where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can."

It's time now to come home.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Hi everyone. Just a quick word to let all the Obama supporters back home know that I am really enjoying myself here in San Francisco as the clock ticks down slowly on the closing days of the US presidential elections.

This T-shirt belongs to my good friend Uzo Iwobi and I hope it will find a good home on the wall of the African Community Centre in Swansea. Uzo and I served as commissioners together on the Commission for Racial Equality.

Whatever others think. This T-shirt reflects the discernment of the vast majority of black Americans. I'm not taking that away from them after all those cruel years of history both American and British. I also remember the Welsh slave owners who gave so many black Americans names such as: Davies; Williams and Lewis.

This election is however far from over and the the Obama for America campaign is working hard for every last vote. I have never seen or experienced a campaign such as this. If this guy runs a country as well as he runs a campaign, America will be well served. So will our world.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Sonoma

Today was just great. I travelled with Liz and John to Sonoma for a fundraising event arranged by some local volunteers for the Obama campaign.

John did a comedy piece and I said a few words about the European response to the American election. We were also given a fantastic dance. Everyone was welcoming and so kind. The weather was also brilliant. This America is warm and welcoming in more ways than one and I left Sonoma hugely encouraged.

I discern a great deal of nervousness among Obama supporters here in California that is matched healthily by a drive to work until the very last moment and to ensure that the campaign is well funded until the very end. I'll hold the good folk of Sonoma very much in my thoughts and prayers throught this campaign. I thank God for some new friends and a great day.

The whole event was supported by the fantastic singing of Elaine Lucia supported by her band. One of the band was of Welsh decent. His father is visiting Patagonia.

Others wanted to hear Welsh being spoken and I duly obliged. Finally, for those who are still interested in Sonoma, this is how you spell that slightly long Welsh place name:

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Have fun saying it.

Friday, 24 October 2008

A Great Time

From tomorrow on, I'll be doing some serious politics. Today, I just walked from San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge and began to make some more fantastic friends by phone, email and on the streets of San Francisco.

Lonzel, a field worker from the Obama for America campaign gave me his first official Obama supporter badge. I appreciated that. It's going back with me to Wales.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Enjoying a Really Brilliant Holiday

Hi everyone - I'm really enjoying this break in the USA and following the election campaign. I now have an USA phone number: +1 415 323 8976.

Friday, 17 October 2008

California Dreaming

Today was fun but busy. I had one or two things to do in the office and also had a slot on Radio Cymru's Dau o'r Bae. That was a lot of fun.

I'm now on my way to San Francisco until November 7th. But I'll still be blogging my way through the American election. Bye......

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The Best Holiday Ever

Today will be my last full day at work for quite a while. I'm taking my full set of fifteen days and going to California until the 7th November.

Late tomorrow night, I will be leaving Cardiff on a bus to begin my journey to San Francisco. This won't be the best holiday ever because I'm going alone and that will be strange. It will however be the most unusual break ever.

I'm going over really to enjoy the final two weeks of the US presidential election. I enjoy politics and I have prayed for both presidential candidates. I have been hooked for months.

This morning's third Presidential Election Debate marked a decisive turning point according to the pundits. I didn't particularly enjoy watching this morning's debate on CNN but I feel it was a paradigm moment in that McCain went on the offensive during the first twenty minutes. He may well have hoped that Obama would lose control under such pressure -he didn't.

During the early hours of this morning I thought that Obama - over three debates - had won the argument. The next two weeks will decide who wins the nation wide battle of the campaigns.

This is an American election for the American people. They alone should debate the issues with each other and the decision is theirs. I'll be over there as a foreign national and as a well behaved guest - I hope - in somebody else's home.

I'm looking forward to accompanying a nation during the final days of its own decision making. If appropriate and if asked, I'll share some of the reasons why others on the globe believe - by a ratio of some 4:1 - that Obama should be the next President.

The one thing I do know - whatever the result - history will be made on November 4th. It's going to be a very special holiday that allows a guest at someone else's table to share a special moment in history.

Whatever the result, I'll wish this nation well, and as a Christian, I'll continue to pray for those who lead it.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Germany 1: Wales 0

I'm so proud tonight of Wales' footballers. The Under 21s did brilliantly last night to get a draw out of England away from home and we almost came back with a result from Germany. Alas, a brave effort was not enough.

I'm also beginning to get excited about going to California on Friday night. I hope Barack Obama does well in tonight's final debate. It looks good in the polls but it's going to be close.

I have decided not to go and play football tomorrow night. My brilliant dentist who had to put a screw in my mouth after last week's little incident when I landed on my head has encouraged me not to do anything daft until my mouth is fixed properly.

Some who know me might think that will take some time!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

"That One"

I learnt a new word today: "objectifying".

During the early hours of this morning I couldn't believe that John McCain referred to Barack Obama as "That One" - pointing to his opponent as one who had voted for an energy bill loaded with goodies for the oil companies. I don't think it was racist but it was certainly objectionable. It turned a human into an object. That's bad!

I don't think it will go away now either. Someone has already created a "That One" badge as a reminder. I noticed tonight that Obama, according to Gallup, has a 11% lead. That was before the "That One" debate.

Otherwise, I found the debate rather repetitive. I agree with CNN that McCain needed to win but didn't.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Hope for the Over Fifties

Sorry to be irritating about the thing but tonight I ran non stop for thirty minutes in the gym and rowed 5,000 meters. What's remarkable about that you may well ask?

I have never in my whole life been able to run for thirty minutes. I could sprint at school but only for some 15 seconds. This keeping fit stuff is really, really good. It also makes you really humble in a proud sort of way.

It gives me such a thrill to be able to do something at 53 that I could not do at 17 years old. To make life even better, I fit into the medium size Scarlets shirt my good wife got for my birthday. Gone are the extra large days - I hope. Mind you, I did try to sprint for 5 minutes and couldn't. Never mind, there's a lot of hope out there for the over fifties.

P.S. They will be electing a new Bishop of Bangor tomorrow. I'll pray for the electoral college and the man they chose. He might want to know how to run non stop for thirty minutes.


Sunday, 5 October 2008

Verdict: False

Today was a really nice day off to follow my birthday yesterday. I am now 53 years old, fit and happy. I did however eat far too much around my birthday.

Over the past 52 years I have worked with thousands of people. Most of them have, I trust, done a great deal of good. Some, especially from my Welsh speaking background went to prison for their non violent protests. I have also worked with pacifists who have broken the law because of their faith.

I dread to think what would happen if I was to be condemned for the things that others have done.

I tend to turn to CNN for the facts concerning the American election. This weekend, Sarah Palin attacked Obama for his brief political relationship with Bill Ayers, a founding member of the radical Weather Underground, which was involved in several bombings in the early 1970s, including attacks on the Pentagon and the Capitol. Obama was a child at the time of the bombings. I merely quote CNN's judgement on Palin's comments.

" Verdict: False. There is no indication that Ayers and Obama are now "palling around," or that they have had an ongoing relationship in the past three years. Also, there is nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activity or that other Obama associates are."

I'll go with that!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

"F*** 'em" (Alleged)

According to the Western Mail today, when Lord Coe and the British Olympic Association, in breathtaking arrogance, insisted that they are going to proceed with a "Team GB" football team - despite the the totally appropriate opposition of the FA's of all the Celtic nations - it was alleged in a London newspaper that he said of the Celts "F*** 'em".

I am not really bothered whether he said it or not. The intention to proceed with "Team GB" football amounts to the same thing whatever the language used.

The whole thing made me sin a lot this morning. Every time I picked up The Western Mail the really naughty part of my brain kept adapting a bad joke that was once applied to John Redwood when someone from London thought he was the most appropriate person in the UK to be Secretary of State for Wales.

If it were asked by Lord Coe "Why do people in Wales and Scotland take an instant dislike to me?" the answer is simple: "Because you used to run quickly and because it saves time."

I know that I have to forgive him and not to be nasty. I'd just find it much easier if he left my beloved Wales football team alone!

P.S. I was good tonight on the football pitch. Apparently, I came close to doing a two legged tackle on a friend last week. What's scary is - I didn't notice.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

The Parry Family

My mother was a Parry from Garndolbenmaen in north Wales. Yesterday, Marie and I went to the family reunion in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The journey was long. It was all the longer because I had not made it for a little while.

My cousin John from Nottingham had found out that our Uncle William had most probably been the victim of friendly fire during World War I. I knew he had been killed just before the time my mother had been born.

For years, apparently, my grandmother had taken the telegram at its word: he was only 'missing and presumed dead'. Her first language of course was not English. I wondered what it all meant to her. Poor woman!

'Friendly fire' just makes a waste a greater waste. It also makes the story very, very sad. I thought a lot about them all today as I lead worship in Efail Isaf Chapel. It's always a joy to be there.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Presidential Debate I

I have just watched the first presidential debate. Overall, I'm relieved that those who wish to be President can stand up to such an ordeal. Both held their own in terms of debate. As CNN put it, there was some sparring but no body blows.

If this was a draw I think Obama was the overall winner. This was the debate at which McCain should have done well with all his experience.

One thing I did notice. McCain could hardly look at Obama. That worries me a little.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Hope Eternal

Last night I went to Chapter in Cardiff to see Karl Francis' film Hope Eternal.

I have already sent my Welsh language review to BBC Cymru'r Byd. The film showed all the cruelty, contrasts and hope of those who have lived through the horrific experiences of the Congo and Zimbabwe.

What I really liked was the honest underling of the Christian faith both from the perspective of African Christians and a Welsh Chapel going doctor, Evan. Brilliant film, but be prepared to see God kissing a very ugly world in love.

You can also see Shane Williams playing Shane Williams at the end.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Gorilla of Greed

This morning I got a Daily Mirror. On the front page it ran a piece on Dick Fuld which it claims earned £22 million last year and who allegedly rejected several bids to save his ailing Wall Street bank giant because he wanted to force the sale price up.

Whatever the truth of the allegation, most of us will suffer as a consequence of the Lehman Brothers' demise. Today was not a good day for the world's economies. It was all about paying the price for bad debts.
It was a discussion point this morning when some of Wales' key faith communities met at the offices of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Cardiff. The world's leading faith communities are not comfortable with benefiting from debt and gambling. Barack Obama said it well of America today:

'It happened in the 1980s, when we loosened restrictions on Savings and Loans and appointed regulators who ignored even these weaker rules. Too many S&Ls took advantage of the lax rules set by Washington to gamble that they could make big money in speculative real estate. Confident of their clout in Washington, they made hundreds of billions in bad loans, knowing that if they lost money, the government would bail them out. And they were right. The gambles did not pay off, our economy went into recession, and the taxpayers ended up footing the bill. '
According to one poll tonight (Hotline/FD Tracking), Obama has a lead of 4% over McCain. I think it was Clinton who said: "It's the economy stupid".

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Congratulations Scarlets

Scarlets are no longer the Llanelli Scarlets but they did well tonight to beat Connacht 45:3. It's about time they became a genuine Welsh rugby region.

I have to say congratulations to Liverpool for beating my beloved Manchester United 2:1. It hurts so much though. I burnt off some 500 calories in the gym watching them play today so some good came of it.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Well Done Wales

I have been away for two days in Lampeter and Carmarthen with the Presbyterians and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and its Wales Committee.

I listened to a lecture on John Calvin that was delivered very well by a much loved colleague from Liverpool, the Revd Dr D Ben Rees. I wish him well for the future and will hold him in my prayers as he receives some serious medical treatment. I'm still not keen on Calvin 'though! Just sometimes, I'm reminded of why I am an Anglican.

In between the two events I went swimming. Lord, it was cold in that swimming pool.

Wales deserved a draw tonight but went down 2:1 to Russia. Our Under 21's did brilliantly last night beating Roumania 3:0 away from home. Things look good for Welsh football.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Sunday, Sunday.

Today, I preached to two congregations that were less than twenty in number. That was more than OK.

Carmel Chapel in Penrhywceiber was a bilingual joy as usual and the Evening Praise service in Saint Catherine' Pontypridd set me to thinking. Dan played a sweet hymn I had never heard before and it impressed me deeply. It spoke of falling face down as God shines around.

On some days, when faith is difficult, that's all we can do - fall face down as God shines around. I have a feeling that it's out of days like this that God will do great things. Today had a feeling of unfinished business about it! Thankfully, the God I worship is full of surprises. I'll wait and see.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Palin: the real scandal

On the way home from work last night I noticed people in some of the terraced houses along the old Merthyr Road in Cilfynydd, where I live, clearing after the flash floods. I felt terribly sorry for them.

I know that the weather comes and goes and that I'm no scientist but only fools now believe that we aren't beginning to reap the bitter harvest of global warming. The UK simply hasn't had a summer this year.

I got rather scared today reading Leonard Doyle's article on Sarah Palin in The Independent. I don't usually get scared especially when I think journalists are trying to make me scared.

Writing from Anchorage Doyle claims that: 'the woman who could soon be a 72 year-old's heartbeat away from the US presidency has an environmental policy so toxic it would make the current incumbent, George Bush, blush.' I don't know about that and I have yet to read in detail what Barack Obama has to offer on the environment. I'll get on to that in greater detail but Al Gore's endorsement would not be given lightly I'm sure.

Beyond that, Obama's plans to re-engage with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) -- the main international forum dedicated to addressing the climate problem seems good to me as does his intention to create a Global Energy Forum of the world’s largest emitters to focus exclusively on global energy and environmental issues. He also has some specific targets: one is implementing an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. I'll check with those who really know what all that means.

As everyone who knows anything about American politics expected, the slump in Obama's post Convention hike was entirely predictable. As things stand tonight, he is still slightly in the lead. That may change over the next couple of days. The campaign will now move on to a greater intensity around the economy and negative adds. The major TV debates, I suspect, will also be deal breakers during the build up to election day.

I know that only Americans will be voting in that election. As for the bit about it being nobody else's business - try telling it to the rain. Some have the right to vote: all of us have a right to be concerned. Perhaps, if The Independent is right, we may even have a right to be scared. I hope not.
P.S. I'm relieved that Wales beat Azerbaijan 1:0! I was there.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Flat Battery Day

This lunchtime, my car battery went flat. It was all my own fault really.

I went to work very early this morning and hit a tired wall at about midday - if you know what I mean. Knowing that I had an important but pleasant afternoon meeting - all about Welsh politics - with some friends, I thought that I would take a little rest after lunch in my car.

I switched the radio on, reclined backwards, held my head with my hands, and rested. Three quarters of an hour later I ascertained that I have a very heavy head. Because I had left the car radio on, I also had a very flat battery. The football thing from last night caught up with me. I'm so stiff today and tired.

The AA man who came to my rescue was very kind. I'm thinking of buying a "Do Not Disturb" sign for when I fall to sleep in my little car. Except of course, if I leave the radio on. If you pass by, just tap the windscreen.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

10:10 Tonight in Wales

I really enjoy Wales and living in it. Today, life was just good to me and I got to pretend for an hour or so tonight that I was playing for Wales once again. I used to play for Wales a lot when I was a boy - just in my imagination of course.

In the morning, I tied some important things up at work and my car passed its MOT test in the afternoon. There isn't a great deal of my little car to fail really. I have also almost finished doing my tax returns. May the good Lord have mercy on me.

Tonight, we restarted our Thursday night football matches. It was huge fun and I think that the score was tied at 10:10. I scored two goals, didn't foul anyone and only swore a few times - but not badly this week.
I really will have to stop that bad habit - not fouling people! It will ruin my reputation as "chopper". I have just got to remember that I'm not playing for Wales in the World Cup Final against England and that not getting a solid tackle in doesn't really matter. I know that I shouldn't be so competitive but I can't do football any other way.

Seriously 'though, its just great fun being able to kick a football with a whole field's worth of Welsh speaking men who haven't quite grown up yet and have no intention of doing so in the near future. I'm now ready to face Wales and Azerbaijan on Saturday with courage.

I think I have also found someone to find some rugby tickets for me now that my other source has dried up. That was really bothering me. Oh, life is good tonight in Wales even 'though the score was just 10:10! "Diolch boys".

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Procastinating

I noticed that a clergy friend of mine has just admitted that he's procrastinating on Facebook. I'm sure that the Church in Wales has some sort of Code of Practice that bans that sort of thing. I just do whatever I do on Facebook quickly.

It's much better that way!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

A Good Day in Politics


Most of today was spent working with my colleagues on the Executive of the All Wales Convention. We did a lot of work and I enjoy being so actively involved in politics.


Data seems to suggest that the Welsh are warming to devolution. How far we have come since 1997 was made clear today. The UK BBC News covered the radical way in which we intend to teach our 3-7 year olds. There are still issues around funding and I'll keep a close eye on the development of children with special education needs. Today however, I was proud of something I had helped to make in 1997.


As usual, I kept an eye on the polls from the US and was pleased with what I saw. There's a long way to go between now and November but I am getting slowly convinced that the Democrats are on track. The Republicans seem to be in disarray.


Whatever the polls say however: no one knows how people will act when they are all alone in a small space on election day.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Richard Schiff

I have always liked Richard Schiff. I know he's only an actor to most people, but he's a really good actor. He also played my favourite character in The West Wing. He's also a political activist.

I have plagiarised so many of his lines from the show during sermons and talks, you just won't believe it. Those of you who know me, know that I have.

In the Independent today he writes a clever article on how divided America is concerning the election. He's gone for Obama but his wife Sheila was impressed by him but not convinced. She's still considering McCain.

I was hoping that my hero could explain why his wife Sheila is still considering McCain. After all, she's not the only one. He's stumped but hopes that roses and champagne do their magic on election day. I don't think he's convinced.

The other political story of the day was the news that Sarah Palin's young daughter, Bristol, is going to have a baby. The blogs are as divides as the Schiff home. I just wish Bristol and her baby well. They have lives of their own to lead.

I have always worked on the principle that in public life, if you don't tell other people how to live their lives, you have the right to total privacy regarding your own. If you do tell others how to live their lives - look out for glass houses and stones! Regardless, Bristol's life is her own.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Gustav

Someone asked tonight if any hurricanes are named after men. This one certainly is. They are also sometimes blamed on God.

I'm praying hard for those living around the Gulf of Mexico. I would not want to be so arrogant as to pretend to know why such disasters happen if we are to believe, as I do, in a loving God. I have a faith that doesn't demand knowing all things. I cannot be certain of uncertainties.

If anyone thinks such storms are 'acts of God' let me reassure you that they aren't. I believe that the God of love revealed in the face of Christ is in all things but doesn't intend all things or plan them either. He did not create robots in a mechanical world and certainly did not intend such evil.

It may be of little comfort to some tonight and tomorrow around the Gulf of Mexico, but the Christian Gospel offers at such times the assurance of the presence of the Lord who suffered. I dare to believe tonight that he will hold many lovingly in the palm of his hand. I certainly pray so.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Most Hated Thing - Gardening

Over the past few hours I have done two of the things I hate most in life. I did some gardening and I did some of my tax returns. Yes, and let me make it clear, I really do prefer doing tax returns to gardening.

Aren't there tablets to help people who enjoy getting dirty, sweaty and tired in a garden? After all, tax returns have to be done, especially if you want a rebate. Come to think of it, I went to the dentist this week and he drilled my teeth. That's better than gardening.

But, I'd much rather watch Wales, Scarlets and Manchester United win. That's what Saturdays are really for.

P.S. - and for doing the sermon thing for Sundays! That's better than gardening as well.

Friday, 29 August 2008

What a Speaker!

Early this morning I watched the Obama speech. Hillary has more substance and detail in her speeches but this morning's effort was awesome. Gallup has him 8% in the lead. That won't last and the percentage needed to be good after a Convention.

Today, I booked my flight and I'm almost ready to go. I hope to tie up my accommodation next week. I'm really looking forward to a brilliant but busy break in San Francisco.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Anniversary - Martin Luther King

Thirty two years ago today I got married to my wife, Marie. I remembered last night that it was our anniversary and things worked out tonight for us both to have a nice meal together in the local pub. The food was brilliant.

Tonight, I also prayed for my friend Michael and his family. They are in Geneva celebrating a special anniversary. God be with you both.

Tonight, I'll stay up to mark another anniversary. It's the anniversary of the delivery of the greatest speech ever given by a man. The world will never forget Martin Luther King's "I have a dream". I certainly won't.

As much as I may admire Al Gore and Barack Obama - they aren't in that league. I will however, stay up to listen to both speaking during the last night of the Democratic Convention. Today, Gallup Tracking put Obama ahead by 6 points. So he should be after all the good coverage this week.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The American Thing

I'm slowly getting there with arranging my trip over to the US.

Some may well ask why a 'Brit' (especially a Welsh one) should be involved in US politics. I respect that Americans should decide the future of their own country. Others throughout the world are however entitled to have an opinion about Obama and McCain.

Beyond that, the individual with the most power to decide who wins the next UK general election remains an US citizen from Australia.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Don't Spoli a Good Thing - Team GB

I had a good bank holiday. It was a joy to preach at Trinity Church in Wrexham. Between the services I went to watch Hellboy II and that was fun in a childish sort of way.

Over the weekend I also got my Wales v Azerbaijan ticket for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Group 4 Qualifying Match. I was also thrilled that 'Team GB' did so well in the Olympics and I'd rather keep it that way.

Just what bit of 'no' do the arrogant and pig headed London Olympic bureaucrats who want to deprive Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland of their national football teams, in favour of a 'GB Team' not understand? The home non English football associations have made their views and the views of their fans clear. We don't want your' b.... GB Team'.

On top of everything else - if the Beckhams want to come back from the US to coach this undiluted expression of London Olympic arrogance at the expense of people and real football fans - I think there's even more reason for not having it. The Scots and the Welsh football fans, in particular, would really love being taken over by the Beckhams!

I'm sure they are lovely people - but they are not the world's leading Celtic icons. "Hands off the Welsh football team" - Just Get it!!!!!

Friday, 22 August 2008

Olympic Medal Tables

I looked this afternoon at Team GB's proud third place in the Olympics.

I thought I'd say never mind to the one single medal winner from Venezuela. Then, I thought - better not. She got the bronze for Taekwondo: Women's Under 49kg. I'll leave well alone I think.

Well done once again to "Dai Splash". I hear he's on the way to Gavin ans Stacey!!!!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Assembly Distinctives List - Help!!!


I fear that I may come back in another life as an Assembly shaped anorak.

All this week I have worked hard to refresh and edit a list on my web site of distinctive policies and developments that the Welsh Assembly has brought about since 1999. The list is quite extensive but I wonder if I have everything. I am also open to having some things edited out or corrected by those who know better. It's all got something to do with me being useful on the All Wales Convention chaired by Sir Emyr Jones Parry.

Basically, I'm looking for help from all other Assembly shaped anoraks. Just send me an email with some ideas. I reached a low point last night when I put search words in to Google and the first pages that came up were all mine already. That is really, really, really sad. I felt so lonely that I thought somebody was about to take me away.

P.S. David Davies was brilliant with the swimming thing in the Olympics today. Gold next time!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Welcome

It was really good to be back this morning in Dewi Sant Church in Cardiff. It was a joy to see some younger new faces around. Everyone teased me about things - and that's good.

I thought and prayed a lot tonight about David Fox who is still missing as I preached at his Church in Elfed Avenue, Penarth. It would be good to know where and how David is. They are all in my prayers.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Well Done Chris and Sei

This afternoon I gathered with the rest of the family to welcome my eldest son, Seimon, and his good friend Chris to the Senedd building. They had completed a cycle ride from the furthest northern point of Wales to Cardif Bay. They hope to raise £1,000 for Marie Curie. They both, quite rightly feel proud of their achievement.

Outside of the Senedd building I thought of something of a more public concern. Sadly, unemployment is on the increase in the UK and now stands at 5.4% but not so in Wales. Over the last quarter unemployment fell in Wales by 7,000 and now has a rate of 4.9%. All those anti devolutionists in 1979 and 1997 who said that an Assembly would herald "jobs for the boys" were absolutely right!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Peace

At the Eisteddfod it rained and rained and rained. The rain didn't bother me. But dropping bombs on Georgia did.

Yesterday, I placed my right hand on the Gorsedd sword of peace on entering an ancient ceremony. The sword is never fully drawn from its sheath. Today, I prayer for peace.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Gorsedd


Today at 11.00a.m. in Cardiff I became a member of the Gorsedd of Bards. It meant a great deal to me and it was good to make so many new friends. As a Welsh speaking child in Trawsfynydd I knew that some people would become members of the Gorsedd. I just didn't think it would ever be me.
Many thanks to my good friend the Reverend Geraint Tudur for this photo.

I also enjoyed the open discussion session with Nick Bennett and Sir Emyr Jones Parry and the All Wales Convention. This process has a good feel to it.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Bigots

It is now Eisteddfod Thursday and I'm very tired. Being very tired has something to do with being out very late last night listening to Tepot Piws, Heather Jones, Tecwyn Ifan and the brilliant Brigyn. Actually, they were all brilliant.

Tepot Piws were also funny. I'll never look the same way at missionaries to Africa again after one very bad joke that I shouldn't have laughed at but did.

This morning, in the churches' tent, I encountered what appeared to me and a friend to be a nasty and very rude bigot. All my public work for refugees and asylum seekers has meant that I don't talk about every thing that I do in pubs and other social contexts. It's simply not worth the pain. Someone who thought he knew me, but definitely didn't, came across and said that I should be ashamed of myself for inviting all those foreigners into Wales. It was all said in Welsh.

Afterwards, I thought a great deal about what I should have said to him but didn't. Above all, I should have directed him towards our refugee tent on the Eisteddfod and those foreigners who will have spent a great deal of time not only learning Welsh but also being Welsh. Today, I wanted to understand the man who appeared to be a bigot and help him to see so many things.

I did my stint as a panel member for Cymru Fory and spoke personally about my passion for Welsh devolution but also about my statutory responsibilities as a member of Emyr Jones Parry's Convention. I have a reputation and a history concerning these issues but I have not made my mind up about so much to do with this Convention's work. I pity those who have always made their minds up before so much listening has to be done.

The highlight of the day was launching Cytun's partnership with RNIB Cymru to have sufficient funds to translate the Wesh Bible into Braille. Working with such friends has been a joy. I have learnt a great deal from some of these friends who are blind but who see so much. Thank God for them.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Thank You Welsh Christians

Earlier today, after the morning worship in the Eisteddfod Pavilion in Cardiff, the majority of the Christians who had applied for the free tickets faithfully returned their free tickets at the Eisteddfod box office. It was a real test for Christian honesty.

Some went out and purchased field tickets after the service just to make the point that they wanted to have free access to an act of worship. It meant a great deal to me that the good name of the Christian community mattered so much to so many.

Thanks also to the Eisteddfod staff for their invaluable support. Well done everyone. It is sometimes better just to trust people's better nature.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Pre Eisteddfod Day

My colleague Rhian did most of the really hard work today. I just did all that office stuff in the office and by 9.45pm wanted to put my head in a microwave and go ping. The Welsh word for a cooker is 'popdy'. A microwave is therefore a 'popdy-ping'. Tomorrow - it will be Eisteddfod all day.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

A Good Day at Work

After today's staff meeting we had a really good Racial Justice Meeting. It was great to be with friends who care about what they do. Some of them have a faith: all of them have values.

I'm really looking forward to Racial Justice Sunday in September after all the activity of the summer. But, first, there is the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff. That is really worth looking forward to. I like that sort of thing.

My diary for next week is just really full. I'm also being teased a lot about becoming a bard but that's OK!

My All Wales Convention Facebook page is really going well. We have acquired almost a 100 friends. That's brilliant!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Gwynedd, Quilts and Castles

On the way back from Ireland on Sunday I preached twice in Llandudno and briefly visited Blaenau Ffestiniog. I went to get a quilt that my cousin Nancy had put together with great skill for our newlyweds: Seimon and Margaret.

The weather was brilliant and it was great to look once again at the solid Welsh castle in Dolwyddelan built by Llewelyn the Great. It is one of my favourite places in the old kingdom of Gwynedd.

Today, however, was all about being back to work. It was OK really and it was good to see friends and colleagues once again. I also did a couple of interviews for the BBC. That was fun!

The really big news is that I only put on 7oz last week. That's OK I think for a really fantastic week in Ireland. It was good to get back to the gym once again.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

All Alone in Dublin

I am all alone in Dublin waiting for my ferry to Holyhead after having one of the most fantastic weeks of my whole life around my eldest son's wedding.

Everything about it was just brilliant: church; family; friends; jokes (some) and I went to see the new Batman film while everyone else in my family was fast asleep. That was brilliant to.

Ireland is just great - sadly, Holyhead awaits!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Second Day - Home Alone

I got a bit worried earlier on. I thought that one of the fish wasn't very well. But, I decided that it just looked that way anyway. Never mind, it soon piked up after I had fed it. The dog is also OK and enjoyed the walk as well as the feeding. Today, I enjoyed their company.

This morning I got up very late and decided that God had a hand in it and wanted me to go to the 11.00 a.m. service in Saint Catherine's in Pontypridd instead of the early morning service. I am really pleased I went when I did. Marcus, the Vicar, was on form about the Christian family (especially the Lambeth Conference sort of family). It said a lot of things to me as an Anglican and as a father about family and getting on. It was a real blessing.

Going to church also made me feel better about cutting the grass. I found the grace to do the grass. I also did lots of washing. All the clothes are OK and are still the colours they used to be. I didn't feed any of the coloured items to the whites - or the other way around.

I didn't get round to going to the gym after all. So I had to resort to having a go on Kirsty the cross trainer at home. That was also OK as well but I'm going to the gym for a big last minute session tomorrow. I don't care what needs doing in the garden. Life is all about giving and taking and getting on with differences.

Home Alone on the Wedding Weekend

I'm all alone with the dog and the fish tonight after taking my son and almost a daughter in law to Bristol airport. On Thursday - I'll stop being almost a father in law. I'm really, really, really looking forward to the next few days.

We have made the journey to Bristol Airport often over the past few months and talked a lot on the way. The talking has been good but it's not helped me with my problem with casual driving. I drift and dawdle apparently. It's just other people who notice.

On the way back to Pontypridd tonight I thought about the wedding homily and must have dawdled some more.

Tonight, I'm home alone looking forward to spending all week on family things. It will be good and I am feeling that warm tingle of excitement as everyone else has already gone over to Ireland. For the time being, the dog and I and the fish are OK.

My longstanding daughter just sent me a text to remind me about feeding the dog and the fish. She presumed that I would be Ok with the feeding bit for me. I have to do some really important things over the next few days like feed the dog, the fish and me. I did wonder for a little while tonight if I left them alone for long enough if the fish and the dog would eat each other. They wouldn't.

I shouldn't I know, but after reaching my target weight this week - and bragging about it before the whole Welsh speaking nation on Radio Cymru's Sian Thomas programme with an old friend Catrin Manel from London - I over indulged myself tonight and shared a pizza with the dog. She liked it. I'm not so sure about the fish though...

Tomorrow, if it's fine, I'll cut the grass and go to the gym and to church. I like going to the gym and I readily rejoice for those who - for a set of reasons I can't begin to understand why - will know what a good day in the garden looks like.

In the background, lots of things are happening. I'm still plotting around my intention to go over to the US for the Fall elections and enjoy observing the Obama campaign. I haven't got there yet but I will. Obama is doing well in the polls. He's even just in the lead in Virginia by 1%. That's good - unless you are McCain of course. Overall he has a 4.2% lead.

A good politician and promoter of the Welsh language, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, lost his job as a Welsh Assembly Government minister this week for - amongst other things - taking a lit cigar into a pub. Welsh politics are weird. Today, the leader of the opposition said that it wasn't a resigning issue. That was kind. I also wish Rhodri well for the future and thank him for his hard work.

It's a time to be kind around family celebrations, the dog and the fish, Barack Obama and resigning politicians. I'm home alone on my wedding weekend plotting what to do next.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Croeso Animation

The EHRC's Croeso project launched an animation designed by Coryton Primary School today. I was invited to speak at the launch in the Odeon in Cardiff Bay. The animation, designed to promote equality and acceptance is just brilliant. The children who developed the core idea were also brilliant. Well done! Keep your eyes open for the clip at a cinema near you.

Keep voting in my poll folks!

Monday, 14 July 2008

"Don't let them get into your head"


Today I enjoyed a really good morning session in the gym where I didn't think at all for a while running all those calories off and watching six TVs at the same time. I don't quite remember now what or who made me think about Hannibal Lecter and Silence of the Lambs but he did come to mind. Generally, it's better not to think about eating in the gym.

The American election thing in The Guardian pleased me a lot as someone reviewed the newspapers on Sky News. It was good to read that Britain is backing Obama by a margin of 5:1 over McCain. That's good news for me as an Obama supporter but the poll may have little impact on American voters. I don't know whether Americans will appreciate Brits telling them how to think or vote. Perhaps we Brits shouldn't try getting into their American heads either.

Here in Wales, a little later, my mind was set on thinking about another possible vote. I joined colleagues for the first meeting of the executive committee of the All Wales Convention in Cardiff. It takes my breath away to think that I am one of those charged with the responsibility of testing the political waters concerning holding a referendum on granting the National Assembly for Wales full law making powers.

I was reminded this afternoon of something Tony Blair said to a whole gaggle of faith leaders a few years ago at a major faith event in London. I was there. He said at the time that one of the things he found most difficult about the press was reading - through the pen of others - what he was supposed to be thinking. That's scary! He objected to people claiming to have got into his head.

To help me make my mind up about the referendum thing, please don't try to get into my head just yet. I would invite you instead to register your vote on my little personal and very unscientific blog opinion poll. I'll keep it up there for a while. At least that way I'll know what people who read my blog are thinking. I would find an Obama style 5:1 margin convincing - one way or another - but very surprising. Go on - indulge me!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Special Visitors

I had to stop and think today in the Senedd building as I enjoyed the fellowship of Anglican bishops from California, Australia and Latin America. A couple of bishops' wives also added to the fun and joy of the day. Their fellowship blessed the day greatly.

Today reminded me of why I enjoy my work so much sometimes and continue to talk for Wales whenever anyone visits the home of modern Welsh democracy. Our vulnerable and sometimes reluctant act of nation building still fills me with joy. I was reminded that its very vulnerability may be a means of giving it the breath of life.

Young Welsh people were rehearsing a piece on the theme of war in the Senedd as we were leaving. It was a strange experience standing next to a bishop from California listening to the acquired American accent of a young Welsh actor from Barry.

It went well and I could translate the Welsh parts of the piece to Bishop Marc of California. I think he got the message that George Bush wasn't liked a great deal in the Barry presentation - whatever the quality of the accent. I don't think he was troubled by the sentiment.

It was like being in my own little heaven today talking about Welsh politics, the West Wing, the Obama campaign and recent political developments in Australia. I'd just like to say at the end of a busy afternoon "Thank you God for a really great day."

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Long

Yesterday, I had a long journey back from Bangor to Cardiff but it was good to be with some Equalities and Human Rights Commission friends during the evening. After the sadness of remembering the Bishop of Bangor, who died recently, it was good to be with friends at the close of the day.

We laughed a lot and reminisced about the old days of the Commission for Racial Equality.

Today, it was one of those memorable days when Meleri had her graduation in Saint David's Hall, Cardiff. It was a happy but a long day. It's difficult to believe but graduation ceremonies can even be longer than church services. That takes some beating.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Half a Day

This morning I had a really good session in the gym but not at an unearthly hour. It was good to get there as my mates were going off for work. I slept well last night.

My half a day's work was spent in the company of friends from the Presbyterian Church of Korea. They really did encourage me.

Life is now much better. I have had a replacement for my phone.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Mobile Phone

The end of my world is almost here. I lost my mobile on the train to Paddington yesterday. I now only have myself to talk to.

I went to see The Edge of Love in Leicester Square last night. If the portrayal of him was accurate, Dylan Thomas will for ever be brilliant, but boy did he need a slap - purely figuratively speaking of course.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Gorsedd of Bards

It was announced today that I am to be received as a member of the Gorsedd of Bards at this year's National Eisteddfod in Cardiff. I was thrilled to receive this honour and look forward to the ceremony in August.

I have decided that my name in the Gorsedd will be Aled Madryn: I was brought up in Saint Madryn's Church, Trawsfynydd; spent time near Garn Fadryn while serving on the Llyn Peninsula and the memory of the first Welsh settlers arriving in Porth Madryn in Patagonia fits with my recent work with migrants and refugees.

For those who understand the Eisteddfod's colour scheme, I'm tickled green as opposed to pink!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Chopper

The talk in the gym was fun this morning. After playing football last Thursday night one of my gym friends has given me a new name - 'Chopper'.

The truth of it is I did foul a mutual friend quite badly that night. It's OK though - I didn't mean to do it. I did explain to them both today that the last time I played football seriously I broke my godson's arm. He's OK about it now.

My latest victim is of a view that his solicitors could take a case against me. I don't know where he could carry his case. He's still limping a bit.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Time and Watches

I have done well over the past two days. I arrived six months early to preach in a chapel on Sunday and arrived late for an interview today. That's good going for a couple of days.

It was good on Sunday to be with my friends from Zimbabwe. I'm really concerned for them. They never have watches - just time.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Pictures

This afternoon I wanted to ask a friend for a photo. Both of us have been losing weight and feel better for it.

In the past, I have made me and others look better by editing photos. Neither of us need that any more. Brilliant!!!!!

P.S. I'm still working on the being humble thing. I'll have a go at that after I have reached my ideal weight. Don't tell anyone but being humble will take more time than losing weight.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

The South Africa Match

This morning, for the first time ever, I reviewed the papers for the BBC through the medium of the Welsh language.
On the way into the studio I met with Jane Davidson from the Welsh Assembly Government. She was anxious that I should say something about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe. She was accompanied by a friend from Zimbabwe who spoke with some sadness about her country.
I expressed my concern for Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa. That was before the South Africans thrashed Wales this afternoon. No comparison of course.

Friday, 6 June 2008

That Weekend Feeling

I'm now at the end of a busy week of running here and there. It will be good to sit through a weekend seeing Wales play South Africa. Preaching in Efail Isaf will also be good.

It will be good to pray and seek God's will for a new beginning at the end of a busy period.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Lesotho Link

Tonight, I went to a Lesotho Link event at the National Museum with Prince Harry. I saw lots and lots of people from Cardiff and some old friends from north Wales that I liked a lot. Supporting the Welsh link with Lesotho on behalf of the churches was also good.

Barack Obama (Again)

Barack Obama: It looks like he has got there. I wish him well for November. I wouldn't mind going over to the States to be alongside his campaign in November - just for fun.

The other day, I was asked to chair a meeting on ID cards for the Home Office. I enjoyed that and people were kind to me afterwards. I wish someone in British politics could give me a warm glowing feeling that some hope was on the way. Where have all the positive bits of our politics gone?

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Behaving Badly

Sorry I have been away for a while. I have been having problems with Christians again and I want to behave really badly.
I am now at the stage where I not only like Herod but I am very partial to Nero. I have also been thinking of buying action men and sticking needles into them but that wouldn't be nice - that is to action men.

Anyway, here are some Christians I really, really like and they are all Manchester United fans as well. What's more. We were all Manchester United fans after a certain Mr Terry slipped last Wednesday night. Its just great being a Christian and a Manchester United fan. Thanks to Marcus and the boys from Saint Catherine's for the photos.

I noticed in the picture how much weight I had lost. Today, I was down to 14 stone 1 lb. I feel very humble about my success and the success of Manchester United.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Asylum Seekers and Free Health Care in Wales

I don't share the view that politicians should be approached with cynicism. It was shown today in Wales that the likes of Edwina Hart can make controversial decisions because they are right.

Well done I say to Edwina Hart who was brave enough today to grant unsuccessful asylum seekers the right to have free health care in Wales. It would have been so easy for her to hide behind the legal challenges that are being pursued by the UK Government.

I did several BBC interviews this morning and feel terribly sad that helping a small number of vulnerable individuals who may be unwell on our doorstep proved to be such a controversial issue and the source not of legitimate care - that's OK - but blatant bigotry.

The Welsh media are brilliant at holding the conversations of the public square in Wales. They have my fullest support and gratitude. I wasn't sure today if people who are unwell - even suffering from cancer - should be brought out to question the policy.

Today's issue wasn't about one group of unwell people competing with another group. The asylum seekers involved simply aren't that numerous to make a difference.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Barack Obama

I'd love to go over to the USA in November as an embedded Welshman in his campaign. I'd learn a lot. Provided he doesn't call me 'sweetie' I'll be OK. He'll win Oregon in style. Just don't mention Kentucky.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Cardiff City

I really enjoyed watching the Cardiff v Portsmouth FA Cup Final in my neighbours' house. We had a fantastic time supporting Cardiff. It was my national duty to do so - even as a Manchester United fan.

Cardiff did Wales proud and although they lost 1:0 we all supported them to the end. Brilliant boys.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

O Ye of Little Faith

This is just for those of little faith who were not inclined towards believing my shark fishing story.

Many thanks also to my son's young friends who have seen fit to defend my story telling integrity by providing irrefutable photographic evidence of my honourable fishing credentials.

It was a brilliant weekend and I trust that this little member of the shark family is now happy swimming somewhere off the coast of Tenby.

I don't think it was too happy to be in our boat but we all did the honourable thing by putting him safely back in the water. I think it was a him - unless someone can tell my differently by the photo.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

In the Frame

This morning I failed to get a frame for my Shane Williams signed photo. He's just too good to put into any frame. At least, that's my theory.

In the gym this morning I heard that some significant foreign clubs are willing to pay £100 million for Ronaldo. Hands off please!

Monday, 12 May 2008

More Doctors

This was a half day at work. The other half was spent on Displaced People in Action.

The Welsh Assembly Government minister, Brian Gibbons, came with a couple of his staff to see our work in serving children, refugee communities and refugees who wish to find work. DPIA has helped hundreds over the past six years.

Since 2002 the WARD project (Wales Asylum Seeking and Refugee Doctors Project) in particular has helped 98 refugee and asylum seeking doctors with their UK training. As a Welsh internationalist this gives me a huge sense of pride. DPIA and the Welsh Assembly Government continue to work well together.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Champions and Ryan Giggs

Just to make a perfect, perfect weekend - Manchester United retained the Championship.

It was just brilliant that my great hero Ryan Giggs scored the second goal. After the result, I was told by a group of men in the gym swimming pool that all Manchester United fans had to leave the water. I had outed myself as a fan in the middle of a lot of bubbles.

Apparently, Manchester United winning things isn't good for football. That's OK. We are not good at sinking or blowing bubbles. We are just very, very humble when we win everything - except for the FA Cup which is on its way to Cardiff.

European Championship: here we come!

I Caught a Shark

I don't know whether I am supposed to or not as a father, but I really really enjoyed my eldest son's stag weekend.
We all went down to Tenby to do some fishing. My youngest son caught a ray which started things off well. My eldest then revealed that various expressions of enjoyment and wobbly boats don't always go well together. Then, I caught a galeorhinus galeus or a tope, or if I want to make it sound really good - a shark.
Going out on a boat in Tenby to fish is just brilliant. Catching a shark really made my day. I needed help to get it in and that added to the fun. Then I enjoyed a real boys barbecue. That is a barbecue without salad or vegetables. Oh no - that isn't quite true - we had crisps and pringles.
We also had beer. I was within the limits required for driving and being on wobbly boats. My clutch cable broke on the way back near Pont Abraham Service Station but I didn't care. I'd caught a shark. I also got a signed portrait of Shane Williams on the way down. This is heaven!

P.S. - I did put it back - that is, the shark.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Fish and Chips

Tonight I reached a loss of two and a half stone since Christmas. I was so thrilled I went out and had a brilliant fish and chips.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Rhondda Heritage Park

I had a really good day today with our Cytun staff team in the Rhondda Heritage Park. The mines, thank God, are closed now.

I love living in the Valleys with Valleys people. They are kind to strangers from north Wales. Working with good colleagues and friends in such places also makes life even better. It was a lovely day today.

I was kept going all day by my new passion for Cola Zero - as opposed to Diet Coke - and Maltesers (only 190 calories per pack). Between them they provide me with enough Es to help me survive the day on my diet. I need lots of Es.

Rhodri Morgan told me the other night that he had lost over three stones. That's really good and I wish him well. I have lost now two stones and four pounds since Christmas. That's OK.

These days, we laugh a lot at Cytun as we do some serious work for God. I think God prefers laughing to being serious. If he doesn't, I'm in deep.... something other than a mine!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Barking Sermon


The bank holiday was fun - except for Chelsea beating Newcastle United. Manchester United will now have to wait until next Sunday to be crowned champions.

Last Sunday, I went to preach in a lovely Presbyterian Church outside of Cardiff. For the first time in my entire ministry, I had to compete with a dog in the congregation. The dog was there for a good purpose though. It was being brought into human company as part of its training as a guide dog. I thought that was fantastic and was thrilled that he had listened so well to one of my sermons.

There is a really bad joke (that I shouldn't write down in my Blog) about an agnostic with a bad spelling problem who didn't know if he believed in 'dog' or not.

This one was real and I have every confidence in him. He took me gently by the hand and went a polite uch! Not only was the dog real. It was also discerning.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Two Peters and Cooking Bishops

Today, I had lots of fun and a really good lunch with two Peters from the United Reformed Church. We all went as a trinity during the afternoon to see a bishop being consecrated. That was good too.

If bishops are to be compared with cakes they shouldn't be cooked too quickly. They simply can't be microwaved if you know what I mean. Today's bishop took two hours to cook and that was good going. Last week's bishops in York took another twenty minutes on top of that.

I meant to do some more work during the evening but cooking all these bishops is hard work. My lasting memory of the day was seeing a Roman catholic Bishop being prayed for by a woman Anglican priest. Times are changing - but not how long it takes to cook a whole bishop.

Monday, 28 April 2008

That Sort of Day

I'm fond of Christians but on some days I prefer politicians. Actually, come to think of it, I prefer politicians most days. It's that straight forward predictable sort of thing they do - that is politicians.

Just sometimes, I like Christians but I couldn't hit a whole one really, really, really hard. It's against the law and against some sort of Church Code of Practice somewhere deep within in my extensive library.

PS - I like all the Christians I worked with today especially members of my former parish who went through a rather sad event with me this afternoon.

Friday, 25 April 2008

York Minster

I am really tired after travelling all the way back from York after the consecration of a good friend as a bishop.

On the way up the battery on my DVD Player went flat on my Grand Slam DVD just before Wales scored a try against the French. That's what I get for showing such things on an English train.

I love York to bits. Its flat (compared to Welsh standards) and it's pleasantly English in a very northern way.

I'll pray for Robert Paterson and his Diocese. He'll make a brilliant Bishop and I wish him every blessing.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Wrexham and Obama

Clinton won this morning. I didn't like that. Wrexham lost and are out of the league. I liked that even less.

Never mind, I can still worship in the National Eisteddfod for free. That was a brilliant result for Wales' Churches.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Administration

I think I spent a year last week doing admin work. At least, it felt like that. Never mind. Swansea did brilliantly over the weekend winning at rugby and football. There were smiles all around Liberty Stadium. My sporting joy was made almost complete with Manchester United beating Arsenal and Chelsea threw away their championship hopes with a 0:0 draw against Wigan.

The only disappointment is the demise of poor old Wrexham. As somebody from north Wales I feel the pain.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Stress

Going through a whole lot of emails today I suddenly remembered a good definition of stress as a lack of capacity to forget. I tend to get stressed out when I can't forget things. Today was one of those days.

On top of all that a good friend forgot that we were supposed to be meeting. God bless his forgetfulness I say.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Back to Work

Going back to work today was good.

All my colleagues were kind and encouraging. I however, at the end of a busy day, am what they do to horses...

I'm still worried for Zimbabwe.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Zimbabwe

All through today one country more than any other has been in my thoughts and prayers, Zimbabwe.

Over the past six years I have come to know many refugees from Zimbabwe. Many have become close friends.

Many a long hour has now passed since the election and my fears are growing that the only real reason for a delay in announcing the result of the vote is because that vote is being rigged.

Robert Mugabe has done Zimbabwe unspeakable harm and I hope that this fantastic but impoverished country can now be rid of him. I really do hope so.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Second of Easter

One of my lasting memories of being on the Church in Wales' Liturgical Commission was finding different names for different Sundays. Inevitably, decisions were made elsewhere.

Today, for my part, I just enjoyed sitting in the pew being a 'normal' Christian receiving communion. As I prepare to go back to work this coming week, having three weeks off work was nice. It did my body and soul a lot of good.

I'm looking forward to next Tuesday and going back to a work routine. My guess is that it will feel a little strange for a while - whatever the days are called.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

End of an Era in Llanelli

S4C covered tonight's match in Llanelli. It will apparently be their last at Stradey Park because the season is now really over for the Scarlets. They have nothing else to play for with Leinster beating them today.

It will be strange moving to a new stadium but the decision was so right. The truth of it is I didn't want to go over to Llanelli today squeezed uncomfortably in an old stadium in the cold rain. I'm looking forward to the new season.

Manchester United continue to brighten up my footballing life beating Aston Villa 4:0.

Tara Bethan was on I'll Do Anything today and she will no doubt attract many Welsh votes. The result show will be on Sunday night. I'll be rooting for her.
'

Friday, 28 March 2008

Very Overweight

Today, I went to the Heath Hospital offering myself as a sample in a 'national' research project. Being as Welsh as I am I have a pathological dislike of anything that does not see Wales as being 'national'.

Everything about me was good except for the weight thing. My blood pressure was good as were my bones. I am apparently 'very overweight'. I dread to think what they describe really fat people. Having lost almost two stone since Christmas I am working hard on the 'very overweight' thing and I'll get there.

By now, I think losing a further stone and a half by my son's wedding in July, I will have done well. If I do it, I will be very pleased with myself and just 'very annoying'. That will make a change.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Welsh International Football

Above everything else Wednesday was about Wales winning twice at football. Everyone agreed that the 2:1 win over Bosnia Herzegovina for the Under 21 team was far more important than the rather boring 2:0 victory by the senior team over Luxembourg. The youngsters can actuallu win something.

All in all it was a good day. All days when Wales win are good days.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Monday, Monday.

I never used to like Bank Holidays. They were never part of the culture of my growing up and to this day I always feel it takes so much effort to know what to do with them.

My day off while being off sick was good. I went to Cardiff to do some shopping, went for a walk with my wife and my dog in Aberdare, and spent a couple of hours watching Eastenders in the gym.

Somebody put her nasty husband alive in a coffin and buried him. Then she regretted it and dug him up again. Strange!

Never mind, I burnt off some 450 calories while this was going on. I'm going to see my doctor tomorrow.

Baptismal Promises

On Easter morning I want to the eight o'clock service in Saint Catherine's. The sermon from Marcus was very good and brought new insights into familiar passages. That was a blessing.

Afterwards I went to the gym for a few hours. While on the cross trainer I watched Easter Mass from a Catholic church in Liverpool. I joined in with the reaffirming of my baptismal promises. I felt reassured.

Manchester United beat Liverpool 3:0 and that was very good. It was even better that Chelsea beat Arsenal. That's fine but I don't want them to win many more.

All the family came over for Easter tea. That was great but I was really tired afterwards. I like garlic but garlic doesn't like me. I ate some in mistake and thought I could get away with it.

Easter was very, very good and a time of faith.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Good Friday

Spending the last hour of the afternoon of Christ's passion in Catherine's was a blessing. It's good to have Marcus back. He is always encouraging.

We spent the evening with a lovely Iranian family in Cardiff. They were recently granted refugee status. They were so welcoming and the Iranian food was brilliant. The night was made all the better for Scarlets beating the Blues.

Today, Ospreys beat Saracens- Wales is on the crest of a wave!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Ronaldo Day

This Wednesday I went to Cardiff and brought myself a new MP3 Player. I like it because I can see the screen. It's a bit of an age thing.

I tried to find a frame for my Wales on Sunday front page from last weekend. The only place I can place my ticket is over Prince William. I'm sure he won't mind.

Manchester United played Bolton and Ronaldo scored one of his breathtaking free kicks. I just don't know how he get a ball to change direction twice in one shot. He is probably the best player in the world at the moment.

Sadly, before going to bed the BBC rang to say that Ama had died in Ghana. I couldn't do an interview because I'm off sick. I find the whole thing terribly sad.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Computer Day

Tuesday was all about spending time with my daughter making sure that all the computers in our house could receive broadband. I also spent hours sorting cables out.

It was a totally stress free day helped by a gentle session in the leisure club. I didn't think I'd get such good value for my money. I feel healthier and fitter.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Grand Slam Days

Saturday was just perfect. We were all really nervous before the game and were even more nervous when the score was 9:9. Then Shane Williams and Martyn Williams scored two fantastic tries. Mark Jones deserved a try as well - he was just a meter short. The noise in the stadium was awesome and I'll keep my ticket for ever.

Some in the crowd didn't take too kindly to Prince William giving us the cup. Personally, I think it's fantastic that such a job should have been given to such an ardent England fan. What a way give us the Grand Slam.

Sunday and Monday gave me a chance to relax some more and I'm being really good about not doing any work. I didn't behave on Saturday though. That would have been asking far too much.

Friday, 14 March 2008

The Third Day

I went to see 10,000 BC this afternoon and that was fun. I went to the optician who noticed that my left eye is wondering a bit. May have something to do with my politics!

Otherwise, I'm just getting excited about tomorrow - Grand Slam Day. I'll be there and I'll try to behave. I don't know which son will be using our second ticket. My eldest gave his ticket to his younger brother three weeks ago. That brother is now ill and doesn't know if he is up to a Grand Slam Day.

The eldest won't let the ticket go to waste!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Second Day

I got up late today after a fantastic night's sleep. I went to the Village Club just outside Cardiff where I am a member. It was really good just to be able to relax and do some exercises. That was fun.

On the way out I met with an old colleague at Cytun, Petra. She looked well and was about to enjoy a swim. I kidnapped her for a while.

Otherwise - all is well and I'm enjoying my enforced break.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

First Day Off Sick

I slept a lot today and went to see a pastor/friend in the afternoon. He did me a lot of good.

I really enjoyed reading the front page of The Times and was delighted that the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish may put a stop to all this oath, flags and queens business. Where are those guys in Whitehall coming from?

I went to see Rambo tonight and thought that I shouldn't really be watching all that violence. Then, I thought that watching a little vicarious Hollywood violence can be quite therapeutic. It all depends on how badly some people have annoyed you!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Off Sick

I'm off sick for a fortnight but I can go to the France match on Saturday if I behave. That will be hard

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Triple Crown

Thursday and Friday was all about getting nervous for the Irish trip. I didn't sleep much on Friday night and sped off to Bristol in good time. There, the Welsh rugby army was gathering.

The flight to Dublin was choppy. It was all about too much wind.

During the game I was able to help some friends from Cardiff with the singing. The Irish seemed to appreciate all the help that we gave with the anthems and the Fields of Athenry.

Towards the end of the game some of my friends let it be known that I was a minister of religion. I wasn't dressed like one and I certainly didn't behave like one. The only clue I was willing to give was a discernment: Shane Williams is really an angel but not many people are supposed to know.

On the way out of Corke Park the Welsh crowd in one tunnel began to sing I Bob Un Sy'n Ffyddlon. I explained to an Irish fan that the song was all about crowns in heaven. He took it well.

I arrived back home safe for church this morning. I didn't like to see Manchester United being knocked out of the cup but a Triple Crown made up for it.

Saturday was just brilliant and more brilliant. Next Saturday will be even better - I hope.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Fear, Democracy and Religion

Today, I attended a really good conference between Wales' Muslim communities and a number churches. Other friends were also there and made significant contributions. It was held in Tredegar House, Newport.

Congratulations to all those who arranged the conference.

It was really weird being asked to consider what I feared about the Muslim faith. Very little is the answer, but other people out there clearly do. Muslims were also asked to consider their fear of the Christian faith.

One Muslim delegate confessed her fear of Goths. That's understandable I suppose. Come to think of it, I don't fear Goths either. I have some Goth friends.

It's just people who fear Muslims that scare me. They really don't have to.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Sign of the Times - NHS Parking

Before a really good meeting between the churches to discuss the troubles of the Middle East, I got a copy of The Times and read an article by Nigel Hawkes and David Rose indicating that the NHS in England is heading for a surplus this year of £1.8bn.

What I can't understand is this. If the Health Minister in London, Ben Bradshaw, is so touchy about Wales removing most of the parking charges for hospitals by 2011 why doesn't he do likewise in England and create devo harmony once again? It seems that they have plenty of money to spare after cutting everything to the bone.

There is a good convention that should have been remembered - its not on for a government minister in England to have a go at a government minister in Wales or the other way round. Beyond that, Bradshaw forgot that the waiting times between the two nations aren't calculated in the same way. They aren't that different in terms of outcomes.

By the way. Wales has also been rather busy spending money on trying to make sure that people, in the long term, don't get ill in the first place. I don't want anyone to wait a long time for treatment but I'd rather we all had healthier life styles.

I don't think the spat was about health really but about the place of private service providers in the health sector and keeping them on board. London wants to keep them happy: Cardiff has better things to do with its time. Quite right in my view. The comments from London were not well received.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Free Parking and a Ticket

Today was just brilliant. It was announced this morning by the Welsh Assembly Government that almost all parking would be free around Welsh hospitals from 2011. I knew that it was right to do all that campaigning back in 1997. People shouldn't have to pay extra taxes for being ill.

I also got my ticket for the Ireland v Wales match on Saturday. That's really brilliant.

Work was all about the Christian Aid Board, clearing 44 emails and a Saint David's Day supper with my friends at Bethel Chapel in Rhiwbina. I really enjoyed the supper and the company.

What a great day!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Pontypridd and Photos


This morning I read the Gospel story of the blind man being healed. It was really strange. Because the print was so small I could hardly see the words. Sign of the times for me.

Tonight I gave a picture of myself to my old parish in Cardiff - Dewi Sant. It's almost a decade to0 late. It's Ok though - I got it to them before I'm dead. They can now put me on the wall.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Saint David's Day March

This afternoon I joined thousands of friends who came together in Cardiff to walk from City Hall to the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay to celebrate Saint David's Day. It was just brilliant to see so many from so many different background celebrate their Welshness in such a fantastic family friendly way. The organizers did a brilliant job.

Things have moved on so much in Wales. I can remember being on the second march some three years ago when a few hundred walked from Cathedral Road to City Hall.

I also got a mention in the Western Mail today for taking ICM to task. When responding to a poll last Sunday I was asked if I knew that Wales was governed by a Labour and a badly pronounced Plaid "Simroo" (Cymru) coalition. The apology was nice as was the commitment to take care with such things.

Friday, 29 February 2008

A Saint David's Day Sermon - Given at Trinity College Carmarthen Today

“For Today's Wales”

By The Reverend Aled Edwards

At the point when the pain of the insecurity of Jesus' own future becomes revealed on the mount of transfiguration he gathers the familiar around him: Peter, James and John. For a time, Jesus moves away from the sound of the crowd so that transformation may occur.

The process takes on a mood. As we discern a shift from the active to the passive - Jesus is increasingly done to from this point on - God the Father provides the security of the law giver and the envisioning prophet and the comfort of his own affirming words to God the Son. This enables a difficult moving on into the hands of others.

Being confronted by the deadening hand of the passive is very much a feature of the lives of those who have claimed sanctuary in modern Wales. It goes hand in hand, it appears, with weakness.

Jesus was familiar with the weakness and fears of a small nation. He belonged to a people who had a memory of being strangers in another land – thus we recall Moses: they also had a recollection of having conflicts with strangers in their own land – thus we recall Elijah. From this point on, Jesus would undertake a process by which he would increasingly be put in the hands of others – especially foreigners. This Jew, following the noise of the crowd, would ultimately be given over by his own people to the foreign Romans.

Understandably, moving on into the hands of others is difficult for Jesus. It appears to be even more difficult, at this stage, for those within Jesus' own world. Notably, Peter wishes to 'pickle the moment' of what seems to be a national event by building a tent. From generation to generation - when confronted by the insecurity of the future - the desire to contain a moment with echoes of the past becomes all too real.

Thus, I ask a question around Wales' national day: is this event a stirring that enables us to confront the challenges of different futures or is it an attempt to 'contain' the perceived securities of a discerned cultural and religious past?

If we took Wales to a modern mountain top, what would we really see? Not too long ago, Dai Smith opened the first chapter of his Wales! Wales? (1985) by defining Wales as a: ‘singular noun but a plural experience.’ His discernment has now, I would suggest, moved on in one significant way in our century. This plural experience is no longer to be seen primarily as a reality between communities in well defined and safe places but as an internal complexity within the individuals that now form the modern, diverse and sophisticated experience that is Wales.

Let me illustrate the point. The demography of the Welsh language has changed dramatically in my lifetime as a Welsh speaking Christian. It has undertaken a significant journey.

My Welsh speaking world as a child was predominantly ageing, rural and declining. The modern Welsh speaking world of my adulthood is young, urban and growing. The Welsh speaking world used to be a mainly 'first language' and Christian experience, it is now a 'second language' experience and mainly non-Christian in adherence.

The modern Welsh speaker increasingly buys into a multiplicity of identities. Only some of those identities are Welsh speaking but all are experienced through the eyes of those who can now, with increasing frequency, understand Welsh and speak it - albeit with a new and younger accent with all its mispronunciations. That part of my identity that is Welsh speaking has always been familiar with weakness and the demands of change.

In truth, Wales has always been vulnerable to redefinition as it has had to move on repeatedly to a different place. The Welsh, from generation to generation, have been compelled either to redefine themselves or to perish into assimilation. Today, as ever, we are confronted by the false securities offered by the policies offered so easily by fear or perhaps more significantly, by nostalgia: we are also offered quietly the risky and vulnerable hope offered by aspiration – or indeed, by the scandalous good news of the Gospel that offers light in darkness - bright light that enables a moving on.

Increasing, Wales is not alone. We now live in a world where one in every thirty five of us on the globe lives in a country in which we were not born in. Everywhere in Western Europe, the dark fear of the difference of moving on is to be seen not only in the eyes of the visitor but also in the eyes of those who are hosts. Increasingly, it is seen in the eyes of the host.

The more reasoned response to the recent comments of Archbishop Rowan concerning the apparent unavoidability of the introduction of Sharia law cast light on a difficult and complicated issue: the sheer ferocity and verbal violence of much of the response came from a dark place within our very modern fear of difference and having to engage with a society that is unavoidably moving on.

Jesus knew that the truth of his moving on could not be easily told either. Indeed such was his concern, he forbad the telling of it. Fear is not only blinding: it is also deafening. He would later weep at his journeying through the cheering crowd.

Driven towards aspiration and hope rather than fear, Wales, at its very best, can sometimes whisper affirmations that show signs of hope and enable a moving on. I attempt to offer a very selective counter narrative – a whisper somewhere within all the shouting.

When the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) recorded in 2005 that the people of Cardiff were the least likely of all the UK cities questioned to fear that asylum seekers would threaten their identity, the Cardiff’s experience of multiculturalism was highlighted as a possible factor of importance. IPPR’s report didn’t fully explore how rich a vein of human experience it was tapping into and how a people come to a place where they have a given capacity to contend with change by redefining themselves from generation to generation. It merely spoke of the political lead taken by a fledgling Assembly, the independence of the Welsh media and the city’s own unique history of welcoming different peoples who had moved on to be there.

From the very origins of the Welsh as a flickering but distinct people, Wales has offered its own insight and response to the migration, forced exile and displacement of peoples as they have moved on. The complicated interplay between migration, war, political persuasion and popular perception has been observed over many centuries. The same may also be said of a nation’s capacity to welcome incomers set alongside, within each generation, insecurities over the preservation of a sense of identity when encountering new and different people.

The Welsh historian Gwyn Alf Williams elaborates on a process of recreation and redefinition in his When Was Wales? (1985) by conjuring up memories of one of the mythological characters of the Welsh Mabinogion stories and states vividly that: ‘the presiding spirit of Welsh history has been the shape-shifter Gwydion the Magician, who always changed his shape and always stayed the same.’ (p.6)

The Welsh have, from the very earliest of times, been defined and filtered through mispronunciation.

Williams (1985) noted how a Greek geographer, Pytheas of Massilia, made a journey along the western sea-rout and described the islands he saw as Pretanic. This word survives to this day in the Welsh name Prydain, used by Welsh speakers to describe their own British island. Williams points out that it is a genuinely Celtic name and derives from a form of speech which became Brittonic, once the language of Britain. Mischievously, he also suggests that the Romans may have mispronounced it; in Latin, they called the island Britannia and its people Britanni. The very birth of Britain flows from the capacity of a people to translate and transform as identities are relayed between peoples. Even through mispronunciation.

Julius Caesar apparently heard reports that the Britanni were a wild people, growing no corn, living on milk and flesh, clothing themselves in skins and believing themselves to have grown out of the ground because they were the oldest people on the island. The blind misrepresentation of peoples by those who hold the reigns of power over the politics of perception is very much a modern phenomenon as well as an ancient experience. We predominantly still hear the mutterings of our own crowds.

We also hear our own shouting. Centuries after Julius Caesar received his reports about the Britanni, AA Gill famously wrote in the Sunday Times (1997) that the modern inhabitants of the same territories, the Welsh, are: ‘loquacious dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls’[i]. Stereotyping has a historic function in the interplay between the powerful and the powerless or different. The powerful may deliberately blind themselves to the effects of false perceptions on the powerless. Speaking well of nations as well as peoples now, as ever, demands courage.

But, victims also have to look to their own blindness and deafness to the narrative that enables a moving on. Ironically, in 1282, Llewelyn ap Gruffudd, Llewelyn the Last, made an eloquent plea to the Archbishop of Canterbury complaining of the way in which Edward I was oppressing the people of Wales. Writing from his court at Garth Celyn some two months before his own death in an ambush at Cilmeri near Builth Wells, Llewelyn complained that the Welsh were being treated like the ‘Saracens and the Jews’. It was a plea that a Christian nation should not be treated in the same manner as infidels. I presume that Llewelyn had no real issue with the Sarecans and the Jews being treated badly: he just didn’t like being treated like they were being treated.

The law makers and prophets can also be compromised. Let me recollect a conveniently hidden past. Conquering Wales commanded a heavy price of the English realm and led in 1290 to the first systematic expulsion of the Jews from any country in Christian Europe - a forced moving on. The cost of maintaining Edward’s empire stood at a staggering third of a million pounds. Encouraged by the Church and popular opinion, Edward had already deprived England’s Jews of a traditional means of income by abolishing usury. He had also compelled them to wear yellow badges of recognition. Having agreed to the expulsion, Edward was granted an enormous grant of taxes. Conquering Wales indirectly created some three thousand Jewish refugees.

Even in more modern times, the moving on and the receiving of peoples has had a mixed history in Wales. Grahame Davies highlights how by 1914 Jewish communities of a maximum of some 5,000 persons were found in Cardiff, Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil, Pontypridd, Brynmawr and Tredegar. These communities integrated well and many picked up the Welsh language particularly in the western Valleys. It was also in the Valleys that they encountered the shameful anti-Jewish Gwent riots of 1911.

Jesus, the Jew, moved on from the mount of transfiguration. Ultimately his telling of truth would clash with the power and the populous of his own land. Politics and the shouting of the crowd are never that far away from each other.

At his trial, Jesus looked Pilate in the eye and dared to raise questions about the nature and origins of his use of power. He implied that if Pilate had used his power in a way that was consistent with its God-given nature, his actions would be of a different moral order – he would have done more than listen to the crowd. Pilate’s power could have been transformed so that it took truth seriously. His cynical response “What is truth?” made him incapable of the transformation or metanoia which Jesus offers as a real possibility.

For the Christian community, Christ’s resurrection and the Pentecost experience proclaim a transformation. The Resurrection proclaims that the rulers of the world are judged; and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost proclaims the infinite resources for transformation for those who seek the Kingdom of God. The same theme is developed by Paul’s writing on the proclamation of the Cross: “We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Corinthians 1: 23-25).

This week, a Welsh transformation occurred in Splott. The story began for me some three or four years ago in total vulnerability when I was supposed to go to the Lightship in Cardiff Bay one morning but felt strangely moved not to go. I prayed hard that morning and gradually walked over in the direction of Butetown.

There I stayed a while and prayed some more. The unfamiliar, a young fifteen year old girl from Iran tapped me nervously on the shoulder. She and her mother, like a latter day Ruth and Naomi, wanted help to find a solicitor that would take their asylum application. They needed the help of the law and the encouragement of the prophetic.

On taking them to the offices of a local charity that could help them I noticed two things. The mother and daughter shared a glass of water. They also began to cry. I asked why they were crying. The young girl explained that they were crying for joy. Just before I had walked down the alleyway into that part of Butetown, they as good Muslims, had prayed for an angel. They had no objection to that angel being a Christian – under the circumstances any sort of angel would do!

This week, on hearing the news that she and her family had, at long last, been given permission to stay in Wales as refugees we recalled the events of the day when it became apparent that coincidences can be God’s way of keeping angels anonymous. I noticed her glass of water: she noticed my accent and felt the courage to say “good morning, or is it good night?” in her best Welsh before concluding in English “I can’t remember what good afternoon is in Welsh, but it isn’t a good afternoon anyway.”

I have moved on since then and so has she. Because of her academic ability she has been offered a place to study law in Cardiff University and she has also been made a special youth ambassador by the UN. This week, both of us reflected on what would have happened if either of us had gone to where we intended to go rather than to where we were meant to be.

Let me assure you of my deepest conviction that there is no safer place to be than where God wishes you to be. This is true of individuals, cultures and nations. I pray today that Wales’ churches will have the courage and the conviction to take this ever changing small nation of ours to those places that God would have it go to and that we may all have the grace and courage to move on – whatever the cost.