Author Archives: Nigel Chapman

Community of Healing

The Queen’s Centre at Castle Hill Hospital, (known to many of you), is the European `state of the art’ centre for Oncology: `oncus’ is the medieval word for `lump’! So this Centre is the study and treatment of our lumps!  In all that we do and say we can be sure that God loves us, lumps and all!


Seriously, the Queen’s Centre provokes many thoughts and feelings, especially at first sighting.  Coming by road and parking outside it is like arriving at an airport terminal with all the excitement and trepidation that that holds.  In the parking zone there is great activity, many comings and goings, so too on the overhead pedestrian walkway, while folks share time together in the terraced coffee area.  There is much glass in the building, much light.


In the arrival/departure lounge, there are comfortable seating areas, rest-rooms galore, a café, a charity shop, a pharmacy, an information desk and, like the airport, the all important `check-in’ desk; here each one name is sacrosanct and sings; although listed with so many others, like those for Oskar Schindler, each name, maybe your name, is the microcosm of God an His Creation.  The Queen’s Centre, is designed for the through-put of many and yet holds on to the inviolability of the deep reaching roots which take each person to their point of departure, the beginning point of the healing journey, to the beginning of the end of the dis-ease.


There was a time when I was ignorant of this world, a time when I thought radio-therapy was listening to `smooth Classics at Seven’!  Now I know differently; the whole process of healing through radiotherapy is an awesome one. It is an amazing example of humanly enhanced divine providence.


Like my allotment, like life itself, `healing’ is in process and is always happening, for God wants us to be whole in body, mind, spirit.  As complex microcosms of creation, the healing process impacts on us at every level of our being, in our souls, in our emotions, in our thoughts, in our relationships, in our bodies.  Wholeness lies in the integration of all these human dimensions, it also requires that we can accept and integrate whatever it is that hurts!  So doing is to love selves, lumps and all, as God loves us and importantly that releases us to love our neighbour, lumps and all.


I write of the community that heals…Cancer patients form a temporary community as they come together, the late Tessa Jowell said, `we come together….in order to learn to live with cancer, not to die from it’.  In that process of community healing happens.  The many planned and random acts of kindness are healing; community by its nature is the healer.  How much more so is this for the Church, the community of Christ, the Body of Christ. Isolation is broken and community heals.


The process of healing only reaches a completion, an omega point, with the giving of thanks.  At the completion of the course of radiotherapy at the Queen’s Centre, there is a ritual of ringing a ship’s bell (hanging in the lobby), three times.  I did it in thanksgiving to our Three Personned God, and to pray for those in therapy, those waiting for therapy and those who performed the therapy.  We recall the tenth leper who turned back to thank Jesus for healing him.  I went out of the building thanking everyone in sight!!


So, I also thank my temporary co-travellers through therapy, and I thank you all, my compassionate companions for all your prayers and acts of kindness for Angela and myself. A healthy community exists through thanksgiving, and a wholesome church happens in eucharistica, the Great Thanksgiving.



May God be with you in all your comings and goings! Amen


Reverend Paul Burkitt

Life in the Spirit

So here we are again, ‘Ordinary Time’ in the church calendar. A time to take our foot off the peddle? Not a chance!


Having had all the excitement of Pentecost (Acts 2) we must remember why God sends the Holy Spirit. It is not so that we might personally bask in the delights of receiving a spiritual gift, (1 Corinthians 12), or be spiritually self-indulgent. Not so much that we become nicer people, although the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’  (Galatians 5:22-23)  is certainly a part of the indwelling nature of the Holy Spirit. It is not so that we become enigmatic or charismatic and bounce around like Tigger on steroids.


God in his wisdom wants each one of us to receive the Holy Spirit not for our promotion, but for the sake of Christ, by transforming us, ‘The Church’ and the world in which we live.


When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, they found their lives had been changed. The disciples could not hold back and they told everyone about what God had done in Jesus Christ. They were enthusiastic in their ‘witness’. Indeed throughout the Acts of the Apostles, wherever the Spirit is present, their evangelistic work flowed naturally through healing, speaking, challenging, listening and building up the ‘Followers of the Way’ (The Church). Why? Because the Spirit of God is essentially a witnessing Spirit. The Holy Spirit always draws full attention to Christ, not himself. (John 16: 13-15).


As time goes by they recognise that the Holy Spirit is not simply random and unstructured but orderly and strategic. (1 Corinthians 14 as well as many of the letters to the churches). They become the Body of Christ. They have an urge to witness and they begin to work hard on their own lives too. They also give instruction to the new churches on how to be followers of Christ. (The letters of Paul for instance). They build one another up, pray together and share what they have. Each day God adds to their number, but it is not without pain and strife (1 Corinthians 1: 10) or persecution either.


This baptism in the Holy Spirit is given to us today to empower us to be his witnesses. In effect we become his possession. Christ then works in us and through us. This baptism is a gift, which identifies us spiritually with the death and resurrection of Christ and joins us together as believers. (1 Corinthians 12 :13).


Therefore we are to function as Christ in the world. In other words we are to look after His Body, to witness, to bring people to Christ and make disciples. (This is essentially what the 2020Vision is all about). To heal the sick, teach, be an evangelist or even an administrator. To be filled by and focussed on the Holy Spirit means that we become his people more and more each day, where, as John the Baptist said “He must increase but I must decrease”. (John 3.33) . It will require obedience. This is not about a thrill factor roller coaster of a spiritual ride, but the nitty gritty of life as a follower of Christ.


Are you hungry and thirsty for the Spirit of God in your life? How might you respond practically? We need people to help in various ways in the life of the parish. Maybe God is calling you to help within areas such as


Children’s, Schools and Youth Work

Pastoral Team

Recognised Parish Assistants

Mission and Outreach

Prayer and Healing Ministry


Welcome team

Maintenance team …. Etc etc etc


If so, please come and talk with me.


This month of May brings us the Day of Pentecost when we will celebrate and marvel at the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that

separated and came to rest on each one of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.” (Acts 2:3,4)


Such was the drama for those first apostles. It was high octane drama from the Holy Spirit but He doesn’t always show Himself in such a way. History records the Holy Spirit

working in people in a multitude of ways and their reactions. In some people He seems to have to keep knocking over a long period of time to gain entrance. With me it was a mixture of knocking and a dramatic event.


My church life began with Mum taking me there where I graduated through the Sunday School to become a founder member of the Church Youth Fellowship in my teenage years. I was also a member of the Choir from 8 to nearly18. All of this was good pasture for the Holy Spirit. However, just before my 18th birthday, Her Majesty the Queen requested my company in the Army and I discovered new ways of living which could be described from a

secular point of view as “the good life”. Now there was much resistance to the Holy Spirit. So now as well as the “knocking” there needed to be a bit of drama. This came 60 years ago on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.


At 23, I was now a Lieutenant in the Army, a raw commander of a troop of Royal Engineers. My regiment was on Christmas Island, together with the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and scientists for Hydrogen Bomb testing. In 1958 the nuclear nations had decided to draw up a Test Ban Treaty to come into effect on 31st October of that year. Thus there was a requirement to get in as many tests before that date. On one of these final tests my troop was assigned to assist the scientists on the seashore nearest to ground zero. Their instruments had to be set in steel shelters dug into the ground. An airstrip had to be made to bring those instruments from the Main Camp and Port. The roads were so bad that the

instruments would not have survived a van journey.


On the day of the ‘drop’ our job was to sandbag the entrances to the shelters once the scientists had left and get out ourselves. There was not time for us to reach the main assembly area at the other side of the island so we had to make for a dugout half way

across. Here we waited for the action to happen. We were in radio contact and could hear of the progress of the aircraft as it approached the ‘drop zone’. Then the countdown! At zero,

despite being underground, we experienced an increase in light followed some seconds later by a vigorous shaking of the earth. Surprisingly we were soon allowed out of our bunker.


As we emerged the sight before us was one of great beauty. A cooling ball of fire was moving through reds and oranges whilst a pure white cloud was forming round it and from the sea a white column of steam was rising to meet the cloud which eventually made a mushroom formation. The experience of beauty was not to last but, in fact, be transformed into horror as we drove through the devastation in order to remove the sandbags from the shelters

and let the scientists in. “Filey would have disappeared completely if it had been here,” was the thought that almost immediately entered my head. We got on with the work but that thought dogged and troubled me and stayed with me overnight.


The next day was a rest day. I took myself off to a little bay not far from camp, to think. Although small, I noted that it had a similar shape to that of Filey Bay and my thoughts returned to the previous day and its horrors. Filey was so uppermost in my mind and my thoughts returned to my days growing up, to Sunday School, CYF, choir and suddenly a thought hit me. “I must go to Church!” There was a church on the island made out of packing

cases, gradually being replaced with lumps of coral. I went, found comfort and strength and the beginning of a real commitment to Jesus Christ.


It was to be a long process from there, through a career in education, to eventual ordination but my regular attendance at church was established. Was I converted by an H bomb? No!

It shook me to my roots but fortunately those roots had been firmly planted by the children’s and young people’s work in the church here in Filey. I suppose it could be said that, for me, Christmas Island became Pentecost Island.


Revd Robert Hall