Author Archives: Paul Magnall

Who will you be known as?

‘You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.’
Isaiah 58:12 The Message version

I love this version of Isaiah 58:12, it is so “Permaculture” but also speaks so much about what I think our faith is about. The whole of Isaiah 58 speaks of how we should live – the kind of “fasting” we should exercise, we are called to “loose the chains of injustice, untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke”.

If we were to change the word fasting to “voting” then perhaps this would give us an indication of some of the things we should be taking into consideration when we choose who to vote for in this coming election. Which party or parties are going to work towards these things, towards justice, a loosening of burdens and release from oppression, who is going to promote sharing food with the hungry, sheltering the homeless and clothing the naked. Which party is going to help us restore, rebuild and renovate so that our communities are “livable again”?

Permaculture is based on the ethics “Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share”. As I have said here before, for me, these fit so well with my Christian faith and I use them to help me make every day decisions like “what do I buy (or not)” and “who do I vote for”. In these coming elections let us try to steer clear of the media hype, the fear mongering and name calling and let us apply our understanding of our faith to making a decision who to vote for.

If you would like to meet for a conversation around this topic over the next few weeks do let me know.

Paul Magnall

Meditation for Good Friday

Here are some meditations for Good Friday based on a version of the Stations of the Cross which we used today at All Hallows’

  1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
  2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested,
  3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin,
  4. Jesus is denied by Peter,
  5. Jesus is judged by Pilate,
  6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns,
  7. Jesus takes up his cross,
  8. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross,
  9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem,
  10. Jesus is crucified,
  11. Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief,
  12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other,
  13. Jesus dies on the cross,
  14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

 1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” (Matthew 26:36)

…. on the rare occasion we actually slow down long enough to pray, worship, reflect or simply be in the moment, we have no idea how to do it. I watch people in church, and it’s clear from the body language that we don’t know how to slow down. I had a friend back in Texas who was so bad about overworking himself that he’d get sick every single time he took a vacation.

(Christian Piatt)


 2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested

Judas, who was going to hand Jesus over, had arranged a signal with them. “The one I kiss is the man,” he said. “Arrest him.” (Matthew 26:48)

Surely this will prompt him into action? Won’t he now declare himself as Messiah, as King, as liberator? Haven’t I done what God wants by precipitating this confrontation? God, isn’t this what you want? A revolution? An uprising? Your kingdom here on Earth?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)

3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin

Then they spit in his face. They hit him with their fists. Others slapped him. They said, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who hit you?” (Matthew 26:67-68)

Again Jesus is tempted to show his power, to demonstrate that God is on his side, that he can call on all of the powers in the heavenly realms. Compared to some of the other temptations this is a feeble attempt but he still chose to stick to his path.

Jesus answered, “Scripture says, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Luke 4:12)

4. Jesus is denied by Peter

Peter went outside. He broke down and sobbed. (Matthew 26:75)

Lord, I so often deny you in my everyday life. I misunderstand the revolution that you want in my life and the world. My life says “I don’t know the man!” Forgive me!

5. Jesus is judged by Pilate

So he took water and washed his hands in front of them. “I am not guilty of this man’s death,” he said. “You are accountable for that!” (Matthew 27:24)

“What is truth?” asked Pilate.
“It’s not my fault” said Pilate.
“You are responsible” said Pilate.
“I am the one in charge around here!”

6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns

The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the palace, which was called the Praetorium. All the rest of the soldiers gathered around him. They took off his clothes and put a purple robe on him. Then they twisted thorns together to make a crown. They placed it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand. Then they fell on their knees in front of him and made fun of him. “We honour you, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him. They hit him on the head with the stick again and again. (Matthew 27:27-30)

All the earthly trappings of kingship are a mockery of the true king. Are our imaginations so limited!

7. Jesus takes up his cross

Then they led him away (Matthew 27:31)

Led like a lamb to the slaughter
In silence and shame,
There on Your back
You carried a world
Of violence and pain.
Bleeding, dying, bleeding, dying
(Graham Kendrick)

8. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross

On their way out of the city, they met a man from Cyrene. His name was Simon. They forced him to carry the cross. (Matthew 27:32)

Simon, carry my cross
It’s so heavy
They beat me till I fell
My strength has gone
And now I need your help.

It’s hard to follow this through
But it’s something I have to do
This death I die for you
For I love you more
Than you will ever know, ever know.

Simon, go back to the crowd
They’ve gathered to watch me die
It will be over soon
A few hours more
And then you will be free, be free.
(Adrian Snell)

9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

A large number of people followed Jesus. Some were women whose hearts were filled with sorrow. They cried loudly because of him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. The time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the women who can’t have children! Blessed are those who never gave birth or nursed babies!’ It is written,

“‘The people will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
They’ll say to the hills, “Cover us!”’

People do these things when trees are green. So what will happen when trees are dry?” (Luke 23:27-31)

Not everyone was calling for Jesus to die, in fact “a large number of people followed Jesus”. So what was really happening? Was it a minority who got their way? Did the majority get ignored? Or did they not speak out?

10. Jesus is crucified

When they had nailed him to the cross, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. They sat down and kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him. It read, THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. (Matthew 27:35-37)

“Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered”
(Graham Kendrick)

11. Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief

“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I’m feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I’m feeling sad, it’s my consolation. When I’m feeling happy, it’s part of why I feel that way. If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well.” (Frederick Buechner)

12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other

Jesus saw his mother there. He also saw the disciple he loved standing nearby. Jesus said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son.” He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)

13. Jesus dies on the cross

After Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, he died. (Matthew 27:50)

Here I am meditating on the broken body that holds the divine and the human in the mysterious way that only the Omniscient understands.

Today, I reflect on this body of Christ. It beckons me and I’m reminded once again that the violence and death that happened on that dark day lingers still.

It lingers still because we all are created in the image of God.

Of all the brokenness in the world today — that which is reported in the news and that which transpires unnoticed, cloaked in silence and shadows — on this day, my thoughts go to the millions of women and children who are trafficked. I am reminded that they are sold, ravaged, beaten, torn and bid on for a price. They are not able to use their own agency and live lives fulfilling the image of God within them because of the continual dehumanization and rejection of that same divine image.

The feeling is overwhelming and my heart is heavy. In silence, I return to the cross.

I return to the evidence of death on the cross for an answer and I am reminded of what is to come in three days.

I am reminded of hope.

I am reminded of love.

I am reminded of my responsibility and of the urgency to act, to speak — to be the hands and feet.
(Aimee Kang, office manager for Sojourners)

14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb. Then he went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there across from the tomb. (Matthew 27:59-61)

It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming

(Tony Campolo)


Happy Christmas!

Christmas, a time for giving and a time for receiving, a time of joyful celebration and sharing.

So no room for politics!

But … Christmas is a political statement!

Mary’s song (the Magnificat) speaks of the birth of a new king who will scatter the proud, bring down rulers, lift up the humble and redistribute wealth.

A new king, one who becomes a refugee in the first few months of his life.

What could be more political?

“Simon” puts it very well in his “a sideways glance” blog – he says that Christmas is the:

“most political festival in the Christian calendar (apart from all the others!), it is the perfect moment for Christians to be talking about the things that matter to God – justice, equality, being practical good news to the poor, and challenging elites and the wealthy to use the resources under their command to work for God’s agenda in the world.”

So, I would like to wish you all a very happy and political Christmas – may the message of the kingdom that Jesus came to bring into the world be our inspiration for the New Year, and may His Spirit and our fellowship together be a resource to sustain us as we work to “make all things new”.


If I were a car ….

Last Saturday the PCC had an away day at Hollin House with Father Paul Payton. The day was stimulating and challenging in many ways and I would invite you to speak to members of the PCC to get a better idea of the day.

One of the activities that Father Paul led us in was for us to imagine “If I were a car …” This produced all sorts of thought provoking and sometimes humorous ideas.

Here’s me as a car:

Paul as a car

Do ask if you would like to know more! And if you were a car … ?


Some thoughts on the day:

Good to spend time together as a PCC and see each others dance and music skills in action! Thanks to Paul from St Aidans for facilitating so well and to St. Georges for such fab food! (Hannah)

Community Garden session 8 + 9 – Sunday Afternoon 26th May and 2nd June

Work continues, the weather has been kind but the ground has not! As you can see from these photos the ground is very difficult, it’s not just boulders, rocks, stones and concrete, Tony and Joanne found another conduit with a cable in it. Fortunately they didn’t do what I did to Rev Steve’s cable!

If we had the money we would just build raised beds on top of ground and fill it with imported top soil or compost, but we can’t afford that and it would be a high-carbon solution (lots of fuel used to transport wood and soil). Our aim is to re-use as much materials as possible and to regenerate / generate the soil. It may take a while but “Rome wasn’t built in a day” or as Permaculturalists say “slow and steady wins the race”!

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We still want to “obtain a yield” though and the plants we have put in are doing surprisingly well, even if the odd slug has appeared. We have also added some comfrey, a small hazel, mint and some raspberry plants to the collection. Ramesh, ably supported by Rob, has managed to cut some of the grass – we will leave an area for wild flowers to grow in – and this will hopefully add to the composting and help to improve the soil. We also have some alfalfa seed to use as a green manure. Alfalfa has very deep roots that seek out minerals and nutrients deep in the ground and pull these up into the leaves and upper roots making them available to other plants. It also helps to break up and aerate the soil – something our soil desperately needs!

Apple BlossomThe fruit trees are looking good and two of them have some blossom on – we mustn’t let them fruit this year as we want all their energy to go into becoming strong established plants.

So, we continue to make steady progress. We have lots of issues still to tackle such as access to the garden and water, but I’m sure we will come up with creative and effective solutions. As always, if you would like to help or just offer encouragement, do get in touch.

Bulletin 2nd June 2013

Bulletin 2nd June 2013

Reflection 2nd June 2013

Intentions for Ordinary Time…………. 

O oremus, let us pray without ceasing. 
R reflection leading us deeper into God.
D determination to remain constant.
I inspiration, accepted from the Holy Spirit.
N newness of life in commitment to justice
A acceptance of God’s gifts for God’s work
R reliance upon the promises of Jesus.
Y yearning and praying for the peace of Christ.

T truth as our yardstick and guide.
I impulsive in smiling hospitality
M merry and bright, sowing seeds of God’s joy.
E energetic in bringing God’s love to the world.
……………………not so “Ordinary” after all !

(Reflections are provided each week by a member of the congregation.)

N.B. Ordinary Time in the church’s liturgical calendar does not mean “usual or average” – it is that part of the Liturgical Year that lies outside the seasons of Lent-Easter and Advent-Christmas.

Community Garden session 7 – Sunday Afternoon 19th May

In the absence of Paul the garden continued to grow a little on Sunday. We started out doing some weeding. Pippa and Jackie brought along their peas and beans which looked like they had been very happy on her window sill. She also dropped off a palette to help build the compost heap!

Danny offered his assistance again and together with Jo they planted some beans and peas in the raised bed. Tony wrestled with some more large stones while digging and extended the raised bed a little – hardly noticeable really but enough for some more planting this weekend. Some of the removed grass turfs were added upside down to the bottom of the bed so that the grass can rot down.

Rev Steve has been watering the plants during the week and they are looking good.

Next Sunday we hope to have a team working again when we will try to dig and build the remainder of the first raised bed, and possibly cut the grass. A few more palettes and we’ll be able to build the compost heap as well. Progress is slowly being made!


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New book by Keith Hebden

seeking justiceSome of you may remember Keith Hebden who was connected with All Hallows’ about 7 years ago (before my time unfortunately!) He is now working as “Seeking Justice” adviser in the deanery of Mansfield and has just published a new, challenging book called “Seeking Justice” which I am currently reading. Subtitled “The Radical Compassion of Jesus” it looks at how we can build compassionate communities of resistance to challenge the unjust structures and powers that keep us from being compassionate, creative people who do justly, love mercy and walk humbly together with their God.

I am finding this a challenging and stimulating book. If any of you would care to meet together at some point to discuss what he has written and perhaps to work through some of the exercises he has at the end of each chapter then do let me know.

Keith also has a blog where “we can find, share and develop resources for nonviolent resistance to unjust powers: resources shaped by faith and tested in community.”


Bedroom Tax Protest – Leeds 20th April

The so called Bedroom Tax that the current government has introduced could be an incredibly badly thought out idea. The government is trying to save money in order to bail out the failing economic system that we have but this new “bedroom tax” could actually cost more whilst destroying community and impoverishing even more people!

You can find out more about the “Bedroom Tax” at the Hands Off Our Homes website (there are many other sources of information and views available) and it would be good if we could discuss this more as a community to find out what it means for our parish.

There is a protest in Leeds on Saturday 20th April at midday outside the Art Gallery.

Bedroom Tax protest poster