Category Archives: Chaplaincy

Expectations

Dear Friends and Family:

September has been very busy.

Florida sky by Mick Hales
Florida sky by Mick Hales

 

Christine taught an icon class at St Patrick’s church in West Palm Beach. She has done two large Icons for them in the past and this was the first class she has taught there. The students worked on the Archangel Michael icon and in the short time they had turned out really good icons. Christine puts a lot of work into the preparation which enables the students to cover a lot of ground quickly. Of course, the main work involved in writing icons is the actual prayers which go on for the whole time.

Icon Class Saint Patrick's Church
Icon Class Saint Patrick’s Church
Christine Hales Icon Class
Christine Hales Icon Class

 

Christine has been commissioned to paint a large scene of ‘Our Lady of Knock’, which this time will be acrylic and not egg tempera. The scene depicts, Mary with Joseph and John. Knock is an Irish village where an apparition stayed for over two hours and was seen by a congregation of people ranging in age from 5 to 75. During that period the weather deteriorated and it rained heavily but it did not affect the apparition. The painting will be for a school library.

Michael had a fast visit for some photography to Montauk, NY. Our other large achievement was that we moved house in two separate moves, one to empty a storage unit and another to bring the major furniture over to our new home. We still have a lot of unpacking to do but are very relieved the heavy lifting is done.

New House
New House

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael’s Chaplaincy work has taken him to three different charities this month which are involved with helping the homeless in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. One in particular called Harvest Home in Sarasota has been in operation for about 26 years and came directly out of Harvest Church. The church realized that feeding people was not enough and they began to provide buildings and beds for them. Initially the pastor second mortgaged his home to buy the first building. That initial risk has since enabled many people to get clear of homelessness and also restore some of the very run down housing stock in Sarasota.

 

What are you expecting, Michael?

Mick Hales Leaf
Mick Hales Leaf

 

That question kept coming into my mind as I sat in church last Sunday. Each time I answered it in my mind it just came right back up, as though God was saying to me, ‘No, wrong answer. What are you expecting, Michael.’

After a while I realized I was not expecting enough. All of my aspirations and thoughts had been very manageable by my own actions and accountability, flawed as I am. But God was asking me to name a vision far beyond my own ability. I was being remanded by God for not thinking large enough, not pushing into harnessing the power of God.

That afternoon I was preaching on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, how the two men’s situations reversed totally and irrevocably after their death’s. The sermon was based on Jesus’s warning that God really does care what we do with our riches. Riches indeed enable power, if you have the money you can buy good healthcare, good legal help, great clothes, etc, etc, individually; or on a national level, you can build a strong army and really exercise that power.

Power in itself is not evil, as money in itself is not evil. It is how it is used that God cares about.

The command, ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’; really defines God’s care about how we treat others, how we utilize our power or riches for others.

 

Similarly, God really cares if we are not utilizing the power he has given us through the Holy Spirit for His purposes. I think that was what His question to me was about. It certainly has made me search for answers in prayer and to start thinking further into the future.

 

Please keep us both in prayer, especially as we discern our direction for what God is calling us to do- and let us know how we can pray for you.

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael Hales

Mick’s photography      Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

In The Name of Jesus

Dear Friends and Family:

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Christine finished off a commissioned icon of the Ascension which is going to New Jersey shortly. The colors and forms of the figures are wonderful. Christine has been diligently daily drawing from a course put out by Sister Petra and she keeps sharpening her iconography skills. She is booked to take a week’s class from a couple of Russian Iconographers in November.

An exciting development for her has been creating a new page on her website for ordering prints of different sizes of her icons. This means they are now coming available for people around the world to purchase directly from the web. Please take a look.

Moving!!

August was a busy month also because we actually searched out and bought a new condo to live in. It has two bedrooms and enough room to empty out a storage space we have been storing paintings and photographs in. The location is much closer to the church we fellowship in and the landscaping has many old live oak trees with hanging Spanish moss. We are really excited about this change and have some painting to get done before we can move in.IMG_8368

Day 4 Hope

Michael took part in a local charity event with some of its’ follow up meetings called ‘Day 4 Hope’, a wonderful program to help homeless children be prepared for starting school, with medical, dental, backpacks, hair cuts, food and even a professional photograph of the parents and children. This is just a part of what this charity does and it’s program extends into the community by partnering churches with schools, which enables Christian volunteers establish strong relationships with identified families of need and help them over the long term.IMG_8310

 

People may have a mental image of Florida being a place where people go to retire, play golf, and relax on their spoils of life. This may be true for some, but actually, Florida has a very broad and vibrant community, with many more young people than old. There is a lot of wealth mixed in with a lot of people who are just getting by. There are many homeless and people in need for one reason or another. Drugs, human trafficking, environmental exploitation are all taking place; requiring armies of volunteers who try to address these issues and put people back together again. Charities, halfway houses, hospitals, twelve step programs, community minded police forces, churches and municipal agencies are all answering what Jesus referenced to in Mark 14:7:

‘For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.’IMG_8114

That text for some reason calls to my mind a simple awareness which happened while I was ministering in hospital recently. I opened my eyes during a prayer session and focused on the old wrinkled charcoal black hand of a patient resting in my white fingers. He was old, in fact he may have been close to his passing. He was in the ICU ward and I was visiting whoever seemed to want or need a Chaplain. Our prayer went on and on, and I could tell the Holy Spirit was present. He kept repeating very slowly, ‘In the name of Jesus.’ He would not let go of my hand. We did not want the presence of Jesus to leave. Our backgrounds must have been so very different but we were at that point united, calling on Jesus. When Jesus shows up powerfully, you do not want him to leave.IMG_8207

 

I often wonder if we were able to have or even expect Jesus to show up, while we are ‘doing good for the poor,’ what ever aspect of ‘poor’ that was, whether, poverty, health, shame, addiction or homelessness, how much more change there would be. God is a God of miracles when we expect and really pray for it. So often he is not invited in when we are ‘doing good for the poor.’ It seems like at the most obvious times that we do need God’s presence, we tend to not invite him.  Is that because it is now counter cultural to do so? Well, maybe we do invite him in. The question is do we really expect him to come?IMG_6569

 

Do we open up our eyes and say only God could have done this? Placed a black hand in a white hand and bound them together in prayer.

You are in our prayers daily!

Sending love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

Michael’s website

Christine’s Website

God’s Creation

Dear Family and Friends:

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Christine had another teaching class at Holy Cross Monastery, in West Park, NY, with several returning students. She has a following of students who want to continue to go deeper into the experience of writing icons. Teaching in a monastery which has a daily cycle of five prayer services by the monks makes it even more of a prayerful experience. The retreat coincided with some of the very hot weather which spread across the North East this July.

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Michael continues with the chaplaincy work in the elderly community at Freedom Village and Blake hospital. There are so many end of life situations which people are dealing with. To bring the love of Christ into those critical times is a great privilege and also can be very demanding. One of the constants that has brought him relief is photographing the beauty of creation, in all manner of things.

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It is God’s creativity, which is never endingly astonishing and it is available for all to see, ‘who have eyes to see.’

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Paul writes about creation in Romans 1:19-21, saying that everyone should recognize the extraordinary presence of God by the awesome divine nature of the things that have been made. He says there is no excuse, for not recognizing God’s hand at work, or for not honoring it.

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19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

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We are in a time where respect for God’s creation is not a priority for the leadership of America or Brazil [the rain forest is being destroyed at the encouragement of Brazil’s president, our president has turned away from recognizing global warming and the Paris agreement]. The environment is loosing at irrevocable speed to human development and greed.

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The environment is just one arena but now there are many areas where Christians have decided to place their trust and favor in a political spirit, following blindly ‘false Christian’ political leadership away from those things dear to Christ’s heart. Loving our neighbor, has moved to creating walls, division, racism, inequality, lies and squandering truth. Michael thinks we have a responsibility to point out as a Christian, that many are following a political spirit, which will turn whichever way it believes it can gain the most votes. It has no heart for what the consequences are. It is not driven by love but by a bullying greed. It is a political spirit not the Holy Spirit.

Michael grew up in England and his father witnessed how the fascist mentality was allowed to grow in Germany and Italy before the war. The mistake the Christians made in trusting that political spirit, rather than being responsible to the Holy Spirit, were profound.

We are responsible to the Holy Spirit, responsible to the love of Christ, responsible to Glorify God our Father, one person at a time one Christian at a time. Not to place our work and responsibility at the feet ‘fake Christian political figures’.

‘For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.’

Jesus taught how to separate between the political spirit and the Holy Spirit, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.’

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I pray that we render to God the things which are God’s and gives thanks and honor to all He creates and not turn our responsibilities over to a false spirit.

It is our joy to pray for you all each day.

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography     Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

Practice!

Dear Friends and Family:

Confession of St. Peter Icon by Christine Hales
Confession of St. Peter Icon by Christine Hales

Christine completed the large St Peter icon commission and Father Keith Owen collected it by driving down from St Peter’s Church, Lakewood, Ohio. It underwent a quick installation to coincide with the official opening of new buildings for St Peter’s Church on Pentecost.  Now she is working on some smaller icons, St Camillus and the Holy Face of Christ. It is a very different process of icon writing when the size is a lot smaller and she finds that it is always good to have a change.

Christine Hales' Icon Studio
Christine Hales’ Icon Studio

Photography

I had a quick trip to NY and Newport, RI for photography. The Newport job was in an extremely interesting property which has follies, grottoes, fountains et al. All very personal to the owner of the property. He has created all this over the last 20 years. I was fortunate to have just a short hail storm otherwise it was beautifully sunny window in a very wet spring and many beautiful photographs were had!

Hail Storm by Mick Hales
Hail Storm by Mick Hales

 

Chaplaincy

One of the people I visited this week with my Chaplaincy work told me that having a good singing voice takes continued practice, it is not something one keeps unless it is exercised. It was obvious to me once she had said so but I had never thought of that before. I used to sing in a choir at school but now find it hard to carry a tune through the length of a hymn.

There are so many aspects to ministry that one needs to keep on practicing so you do not lose them, which becomes a loss to you personally and also to those you are ministering to.

Hales Icon Studio
Hales Icon Studio

1 Timothy 4:14-16 says this perfectly.

14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,[c] so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

 

Flowers by Mick Hales
Flowers by Mick Hales

God’s Calling

Yesterday I presided over a memorial service in a Baptist church. It was for a man I had ministered to, prayed with and watched him go through the slow stages of going from life on earth to everlasting life. It was all part of the work I now have as a Chaplain in an old people’s community. I love what I am doing; teaching, praying, visiting, preaching, studying the word and caring for people in the last chapters of their lives. Quite often they have experienced very full lives and been highly trained and educated. I make many mistakes and I so often feel inadequate, but I believe God called me to that work and yet I still often hear God calling me in my head, ‘Michael, Michael I am calling you.’

I reply ‘take me Lord, what are you calling me for?’

It comes again, ’Michael, Michael I am calling you.’

Am I still not engaged as God purposes? Is there more?

Then I realize, of course there is always more. God always has more than we can imagine. What I need to pray into though is to hold fast the gifts God has given me and to keep exercising them. There is a destination to keep my eyes on and not turn around to look at my past; like a ploughman holding steadfast his course exercising his skills till the end of the furrow. God will direct my path if I keep exercising His gifts and loving Him.

Luke 9:62. Jesus said to him, ’No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’IMG_6696

 

So please keep us both in your prayers as God continues to work His will in our lives that we would truly know His purpose and destination for us.

 

With His Love, Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography

Christine’s Icons

 

Travel and Revelations

Dear Friends and Family:IMG_5092

Christine had a busy month in March teaching iconography at our home church in Sarasota, Church of the Redeemer and also at the Union Theological Seminary in NYC. She is also getting ready to teach another Icon class at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico next week. She delivered a beautiful icon commissioned by one of her former students in Miami, a wonderful Icon of Mary Magdalen and Christ. Recently there appears to be an understanding within the church body, that the significance of Mary Magdalene and her ministry towards Christ, as well as to the very early church, has not been fully appreciated. [Mark 16: 14] One of our fun days was a visit to the Dali museum in St Petersburg with friends. There was lots to see of course, but one of the outside displays was a Golden Spiral, which is used extensively in iconography and sacred geometry.

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Michael’s News

Michael is slowly finding his way as a Chaplain for a retirement community which has lots of opportunity for praying one on one and also preaching and teaching. He, also, had a quick trip to New York to photograph an apartment which overlooked the Hudson River. The owners were vacating the apartment after  thirty years and wanted a record of it.     IMG_5355

He has a short story about what happened after doing a hospital visitation recently. He finished his hospital visit and returned to his car. Quite close by to where he had parked was a man sitting on a tire barrier under a shade tree. He was talking to someone who appeared to be just someone in passing. After a while he heard what the conversation was about, that the man’s father was in the hospital and apparently deteriorating fast.

After a while he felt God nudge him to go over and see if he could help the man. There was a long conversation, mostly the man talking and Michael just listening. Eventually Michael asked if he could pray for him and did so and then returned home.

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About two hours later, he had a call from the hospital to return at that man’s request. Michael had been wearing a hospital Chaplain’s ID, earlier and they were asking for him specifically. So he returned and went to the room where the man and his father were. He prayed for them both separately and then talked and prayed with his mother and sister who were also at the hospital. Then waited to see how if he might help further. After a while the man came out of the father’s room and asked for Michael’s phone number and said he would be in touch if things developed. He then announced that the whole family was agnostic, but he recently learned his father had begun to pray when traveling to some of his medical appointments.

Hearing From God

Sometimes, it is strange how God works, but now Michael believes that God had heard his prayers while going to those doctors’ visits and somehow God got one of His own family to represent Him at a vital moment in that family’s life.

At the time Michael came away wondering, why was he asked to go back to the hospital if they were all agnostic? Why would they allow him to pray for them, each one separately? Maybe, just maybe, at that late hour, they realized they would be called upon to account for their lives before God.IMG_5117

As indeed we all shall. Whether we are cognizant that there will be an accounting before God or not. Even if we stand proudly as Christian, Agnostic, Republican or Democrat, we shall all be accountable before God.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

Hebrews 4:13

That’s all for now.  Love snd prayers to you all!

Michael and Christine Hales

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Please let us know how we can pray for you.