SITTING COMFORTABLY AND STANDING

In my childhood days there was no daytime television, but if the wireless was switched on mid-afternoon a sweet, gentle lady would ask,

“Now children, are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin.” Then she would read the story of the day, with many thousands of children Listening with Mother. – that was the programme’s name, would hang on to every word.

St Giles like the majority of Parish Churches of its size and age has oak pews which are comfortable enough for those of younger years, back-pain and arthritis free; but to be honest a bit of a challenge to those of more senior years. Strangely, complaints are few, our venerables, Reverend Ian’s name for the older ones must be a tough and hardy crew.

From time to time, we think how wonderful it would be to do away with the pews and replace them with nice, squashy, comfortable chairs; someone will even venture the opinion that if we did this more folk would be enticed out of their homely comfort-zones and into church.

Mmm! You might like to offer your thoughts on that one?

But, do we really need to be sitting comfortably before we can begin to worship, listen and witness.

The story of Paul and Silas in the stocks, in prison as recorded in Acts 16: 16-34 suggests otherwise. Stripped, beaten, don’t think stocks would be my idea of sitting comfortably, they sang hymns at midnight, and after The Lord’s timely intervention with an earthquake baptised their jailer and his family! No waiting for the right, (by todays standards) convenient comfortable moment!

To me sitting comfortably in Christ is more than the seating arrangements in our churches, light and heating; church is not just simply a physical building of bricks and mortar, it is to be “seated with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6)

From that position, like Paul and Silas, it is possible for me to sing at Midnight, come rain, wind and weather:

In Christ alone my hope is found.
He is my light, my strength and song:
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest draught and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are still and striving cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I Stand.’

”Till He returns or calls me home.
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand'”

(Keith Getty & Stuart Townsend)

St Giles

Engraved on The Hand That Holds Eternity

Monday, breakfast time and the text arrived:
“Memorial work begun. It now looks clean!”

I smile, Reverend Ian has been waiting for the Stone Masons to arrive for weeks to begin work on the Village War Memorial within the Churchyard and it has been months since we first heard that the Local Authority would provide funding from Reserves ring fenced for community projects.

More than 10 years ago we knew that the names of the villagers lost in the 1914-1918 war were fast disappearing, eroded by wind, and weather, soon they would disappear and be lost forever. Malcolm and Richard, father and son, members of our church family set to with a will and researched every name with the War Office, visited the Battle fields and War Cemeteries in Europe, produced a booklet and preserved the names on boards displayed inside the church. I recall, as Church Treasurer promising Malcolm, who passed away this spring, that if ever the church suddenly had monies we would do something more fitting, more enduring. Prayers were said, the names outside went on fading, money never came.

But prayers are answered. Often when we least expect and in ways we don’t expect. In the closing days of last summer, out of a clear blue sky the Local Authority (I think friends in the U.S.A.) would say City Hall), approached us with the wish to restore the Memorial back to its former pristine-white and reinstate the names on new, harder stones.

The re-dedication of the restored memorial is planned for 28th September, 93 years after the original dedication, and the day before we celebrate the 90th Birthday of the present fourth, Church building on the same site.

The timing is deliberate; the War Memorial reminds us of loss, struggle, human sin – still around us in the world today – and battles for good, mercy and truth we have to fight – with God/s help in our own hearts.”

Those are the words Reverend Ian has given me for the Church Magazine, he concludes his Pastoral letter with a reference to the 29th September which is the Feast of St Michael and All Angels reminding us that we belong to bigger, Christian Family, seen and unseen, he writes,

Our names, like those on the original War Memorial may fade in time, but like them we will forever be precious to God who has ‘engraved you on the palms of my hands,'(Isaiah 49:16), and in Jesus he has given us life that will be forever.”

Amen.
I cannot think of a better place to have my name written, engraved on the hand that holds eternity,

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The picture shows the Memorial as it was around 1921, with the ruins of the third church in the background.

‘As Long as it is called ‘Today’

When I began this blog it was with the intention of sharing some of the things I have heard from the Spirit, Well listening and hearing are two things, and acting on them straightway is quite another; I rather fancy that I am not alone in that regard.

The Church Magazine is published every other month, and I am the Editor responsible for compiling, typing and printing. Every issue the deadline for contributions for the next Issue are clearly stated in the current one, and every weekly pew sheet clearly states the next deadline for the Magazine. I build in extra days because I know that there is always, someone, with something that will be late. Working on the typing untl 3:00am – is something I take in my stride.

Reading poetry this afternoon, I came across the following poem and share it with apologies to all my writer friends with this comment, if I were a writer, the words would probably fit my temperament quite well, especially the title, I think:-

The Lazy Writer


    In summer I’m disposed to shirk,
    As summer is no time for work.
    In winter inspiration dies
    For Lack of out-door exercise.
    In spring I’m seldom in the mood,
    Because of Vernal Lassitude.
    The fall remains. But such a fall!
    We’ve really had no fall at all.
    (Poet: Bert Leston Taylor)

    Love is not love until it is given away” Meaning love is not love at all until it is expressed by our actions. Love is a gift and need to be given, otherwise a lover is not a lover. Art is a gift and needs to be given … the drawing and painting cannot touch another heart until the picture is made on paper, or canvas, until the clay is moulded the potter is no potter. Likewise until the writing is done, the writer is no writer and his beautiful gift remains ungiven.

    To all of us to a lesser or greater extent is given the gift of encouragement:

    But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today.” Hebews 3:13

Firsts And A Thirst

Continuing from my last post, some firsts in my life and my thirst.

The First Card I received in the post was from my godmother a card for my 5th birthday and tucked inside, a pair of yellow butterfly hair-slides.

My First day in school was eagerly awaited. I woke my my mum at 5:00 am to ask if it was time to go yet, I didn’t want to be late.

My First time in Sunday School was the sunday following Easter Day, 1955. This was in the Tin Chapel – an Evangelical Church, a small prefabricated building with a corrugated iron roof. and, this was the day I watched my first cine film, there was no soundtrack, the story was narrated from a book by one of the teachers. That story was the account written in John 21, a story remembered never to be forgotten, although the teachers face has long vanished from view. I learned that morning that Jesus had died because he loved us, but now he was risen so that children like me could live forever,

Did I believe this?
Absolutely!

I knew, that morning that Jesus loved me and that I loved him.
The count of the fish in the net, 153, (verse 11) has never been forgotten.

I love this chapter in John.s Gospel. This story of the Risen Lord standing on the shore by the Sea of Galilee calling to 7 disappointed disciples out on the lake, after a whole night’s fishing they had caught nothing, the stranger on the shore directIng them where to cast the net to enclose those 153 fishes; yet what really enchanted me as that little girl then was n’t that great catch, no, it was Jesus cooking the breakfast!

I still am drawn like a magnet to those nail pierced hands cooking fish for his friends. When brothers or sister scraped hands or knees in a fall and showed them to big sister, I would flinch, somehow feel the hurt and instinctively do as Mum had taught us and ‘kiss things better.’ That Sunday morning I wanted to kiss the Saviours hands better.

Ah well!

That morning, I knew for the first time, that I had a thirst.

A thirst to know more of Jesus, a thirst, a child really can’t comprehend, a longing after God.

Always I have been one of those people who want to know, need to know; I have gone looking for answers in strange places, sometimes without being really sure what the questions were. Yes I have had lots of questions for God. Why he does, or has done this or that, why he has allowed such and such and most of all what did he mean, what does he mean? But for most of my questions these words from Julian of Norwich answer my questions for me:

“Love was his meaning.”

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I Remember…

This post is for Terry my friend on WordPress who encouraged me to write down all I can recollect in 10 minutes, well I am one of those people who always start at the beginning and time starts now.

I remember my godmother telling that my words the night my brother, Edward, next in line was born were, “Oh he is going to cry a lot!” Yes, he did, as children he was the one who cried the most.

I am just 15 months older, born on a night when a blizzard blew at 68 Springfield Lane; my parent’s first born, a daughter and always slightly precocious, and always aware that God was looking over me.

My memories of Rose arriving 12 months later are more developed, Rose made her entry in March and was always going to boss her brothers about.

Next, 10 months later, came brother Charles Michael.. same address another snowy night. As you can gather, not many babies were born in Maternity Hospitals in those days and this brother came into the world 2 months prematurely. Young as I was, I do recall the ambulance and portable incubator arriving to take him directly to hospital to the intensive care he needed. I remember being taken to visit, not being allowed into the room, I was held up to see him through the glass window. It was 2/3 months before Mum and Dad were allowed to bring him home. Many premature babies died in those days, my grandmother thought Charles Michael would too. Mum and I knew differently. Faith is not something for grown-ups only. This brother was named by his nurses at an emergency baptism, he was named for the first in line for the throne, Charles Michael being two of Prince Charles’ names.

My Dad? Well if Mum was ill, Dad became Mum, cleaning washing cooking for us – most Dads do that well.

I remember that in my childhood days there was always something new to learn and I loved reading, anything would do, boxes, bottles the cartons the food came in, if it was there I would read it. As I left schooldays behind, my Headmistress told me, “You are one if those people who will never stop learning because you are in love with learning.”

My time is up, Terry, Sorry.

As I have been writing it strikes me, that my earliest memories with vivid recollections of snow and that same front (parlour) room where all four of us were born, may be a little unusual, however a good memory is what I have been blessed with and I hope and pray I will be able to retain this in my senior years. Remembering is important. It also occurs that although my days may not always have been easy, but they have been blessed, I have known God’s presence.

‘”For he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust.”(Psalm 103:14)

Room For The Books

“Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone of them were written down, i suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

I have always loved book. The number of books around my home testify to that. As a school girl I was a frequent visitor to our local ‘Carnegie’ Library. It would be true to say that I knew those books and shelves as well as the librarians did. Sadly that library is now empty, abandoned, and I cannot say that its replacement, a modern, non classic architectural structure that seems to have sprung up overnight has captured my heart. Unless the computers are offline, or the internet connection down they don’t really need a librarian, libraries have gone D.I.Y.

I prefer the old to the new. Having said that I like my eReader, a Library I can hold in my hand.

The scripture quoted is the last verse of John’s Gospel and I am wondering that his reaction would have been to Kindles, Kobo’s, laptops, macs, pcs and the internet? So many ways to store, read, study and pass on God’s word.

I smile and wonder some more, I am reading the opening verse of John’s Gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”(John 1:1)

One Word!

Can my heart, can your heart be big enough to hold the Word of God?

The picture is the new, as yet unfinished library in the City of Birmingham

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