A Christian Soldiers Prayer

The photo was taken on 28th September, The flag was loaned by R.A.F. Cosford and displayed inside church which was opened for people to use for prayer. The actual unveiling and dedication of the restored Memorial to the fallen of the1914-1918 war, taking place outside in the Churchyard.

The Union Flag used to. Veil the Memorial in the Churchyard was loaned by the newly formed Mercian Regiment. When I have the official photos. I will post some of them.

Yesterday, Sunday 29th September, was the 90th Anniversary of the present building on the Feast of St Michael’s and All Angels 1923.

This is the prayer of a devout Christian Soldier, called to the Banner of the Living God, and of our Saviour Jesus.

King of Angels,
strengthen Thy servant to wield the Sword of the Spirit,
Courage to trust in the Shield of Faith,
And in the armour of the Gospel.
Give wisdom also to recognise Thy foe,
Lest in my ignorance,
I wound Thy friend.
My zeal is not enough
Except it be directed by Thee.
Amen

(The armies of heaven were following him- Revelation 19 v14)

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Keeping Faith

What is keeping faith?

Keeping faith I believe is just that. Remaining loyal to a marriage partner, your childhood sweetheart, your best friend your country, your church. The photo, I feel says it all and so does the 13th chapter 1 Corinthians.

It seems so difficult for marriage partners to stay together, nowadays. Should we be surprised that the same is true for Christians, remaining faithful to Christ has never been so difficult. Why?

Because Love is not what the nowadays folk want, or because love that keeps faith is costly?

I’m not thinking that couples should stay together when one partner is abused, the one who abuses is not loving in the first place, and yes the description of Love in this famous passage is the
description of a perfect man or woman, which under the sun, there has never been….except….one.

That one is The Lord Jesus Christ. The one who, despite our unfaithfulness remains faithful.

The price of perfect love for us is to let go and lose the self we know, to let it die and find it again, after searching for it, like a short sighted person does for their own face in a mirror, in the face of Jesus. I wonder, which of us will ever truly die to gain that perfect love. Christ died to put the wedding ring on His brides finger, He won’t ever remove it, despite suffering abuse from a henpecking, faithless bride every day (twice on Sundays) that ring is His love, his amazing grace!

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Six Days And A Thousand Years

There are times when we just hold our breath. I mean those times when there is absolutely nothing else we can do, when everything is entirely out of our hands – beyond our powers.

There are five days left for the Stone Masons to complete their work and fix those newly engraved stones bearing 98 names into position at the base of the restored War Memorial, 5 days in which to clear away the loose sand, remove surplus materials, complete the snagging list – and – we are holding our breath and yet at the same time preparing for the unveiling and dedication on the sixth day.

Whenever Patricia, the Office Lady, is convinced that carefully laid plans are going astray, or a storm in a tea-cup is brewing she will quote:

‘And it came to pass.’ She will sigh a little, spread her hands a little, brace herself a little, in the complete confidence that whatever the day brings, it will pass.

All things pass. The sixth day will come and it will go; and another page will have been turned in the history of a small church community founded in Saxon times from the outdoor preaching of Gods Words by Christian brothers at the foot of a ‘preaching’ cross on the top of a hill.

This evening I found myself recalling these words,

‘And God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning – the sixth day.’ (Gen 1:31)

How small a thing it, this enterprise of restoring a memorial to 98 men from a small village who died in the Great War, in comparison with the Creation. How small a dash on the line chart of eternity is the 93 years passed since the first unveiling,

‘Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.’ (2 Peter 3:8)

What an amazing thing it is that, as Peter tells us in his first letter we come to Christ, the LIVING STONE (a stone which we cannot touch with our hands either to add to or take from its Holiness) but nevertheless, we can stumble over it, for this is a Rock which can make people fall:-

‘See, I lay a stone in Zion,

a chosen and precious cornerstone,

and the one who trusts in Him

will never be put to shame.’ (1 Peter 2:6)

The key words are that it is the one who does trust in him who will never stumble or fall, I think for a little while about those 98 men their faith, their lives and those who wept for them…..

Not a living soul today can say that they knew, met, walked, talked, wept or prayed with any of those 98

Yet,

Thousands upon thousands of His Saints in this world and in the heavenly realms can say that they know, have met, walked, talked, wept and prayed with Jesus the Living Stone today, I can but hope that the 98 found rest for their souls in Him, at the end of this week, the beginning of another it is to this Living Saviour that I come to find rest for mine.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, (Matthew 11: 28)

Things We Cannot Do, the Something We Can

‘Father, I place into Your Hands,
the things that I can’t do.
Father, I place into Your Hands
the times that I’ve been through.
Father I place into Your Hands
the way that I should go,
for I know I always can trust You.’
(Jenny Hewer.1975 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music)

It was a Wednesday morning and because our own clergy were otherwise engaged, Reverend Peter a retired Priest answered the call and came over to help. Nothing is ever too much trouble for Reverend Peter and no distance too great to travel when thanked his gracious reply is always going to be, ‘Oh but it is a privilege.’ This is no courteous reply, He means it, it comes from his heart.

Well on this particular morning standing in the small church kitchen with coffee, his attention is drawn to the flower girls, (one in her 80’s, the other in her 70’s) planning their next task whilst someone else checks the cleaning cupboard’s stock.

‘See, Reverend Peter says, ‘You all do something, just as it should be and here comes Mother Superior!’

The one referred to and just entering the kitchen dissolved into laughter along with everyone else. Taking not the least little offence with the chorus of. ‘Yes. that’s her.’

Dressed in old jeans, trainers, and gardening anorak, the one with the stitch in the torn sleeve seam, hardly the picture of a nun.

‘Oh, but I mean it.’ Reverend Peter says. ‘You are always so calm, so serene, you should be a sister in Holy Orders.

The dishevelled one, brushes windswept hair from her eyes, and with index finger pointed in the direction of up, replied,

‘Well I do take orders from the Holy One, I suppose. I do whatever he says without picking and choosing, but I leave it to Him to do the hard part.’

Tuesday evening and the visiting speaker at the ladies class gives a gentle message using Ephesian 3:7-21 as his text. As he finishes he gives each person a slip of paper with the following words to think about:

“We cannot do everything.
and there is a sense of liberation in realising that.
This enables us to do something;
and to do it well.
It may be incomplete;
but it is a beginning.
a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter
and do the rest.”

Here is the secret to the anorak lady’s calm and serenity; she is forever taking a new step along the way, providing that opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

She has taken no religious vows and wears no habit except the one given by the Lord, prayer.

Serene Swan

September Musing

September came in softly, like a lovely girl with gentle manners; wearing her best dress woven from golden Autumnal sunlight; about her shoulders a soft cloak of green summer and ripe hedgerow fruit. This morning rain drops are caught in the spider webs, the first leaves have floated down and the sky has changed her blue dress for a grey one.

September, Autumn, so beloved by poets, writers, artists, photographers who can resist attempting to catch the spider’s artwork, the ripe fruits, misty hills, harvest moon and glittering night skies – catch it before it goes. This is the sadness of Autumn or fall as some know it. Autumn’s Muse tells us it can’t last. Nothing is forever. I am a person of simple words, I don’t write about serious concepts such as existential dread, I don’t want to dwell on the elusive sadness which Autumn can reveal in our hidden depths, but simply acknowledge that September is a “fey” month whose delicate finger points out to us changes to come.

No, there is that in myself which wants to celebrate Sukkot (the Fruit Harvest which Jewish friends will be celebrating this year between 18-25th September) and to give thanks for those good things which I have known in this year and throughout all the seasons of my life, for His kindnesses have been many and to ask that the fruits of the Spirit, the loving kindnesses of a life rooted in God may be ripening in own my life. Some, I know will be reflecting on their own lives at this time, what have they achieved what will, if they are a Christian like me, the Master have to say to them at that final Harvest Time. Will it be,

“Well done'”
“You could have done better.”
or “I don’t know you at all”

There are those for whom there is no celebration of Harvest – for there has been none. As the churches celebrate Harvest Festivals we will be remembering those in need in prayer and giving, but for some of us the season’s Muse asks, “Should you not have been doing these things all year?”

There is another felt, but often unvoiced aspect of Autumn – instead of marking the end of summer and the end of good things, it can mark the beginning of a whole New Eternal Season in which we can all begin to be more generous, to take up our part in caring for the earth, its plants, its creatures and people.

Yes, rain, storm, hurricane, snow, ice, fire and earthquake are beyond our authority, mankind does not rule over these – but no one should face these things alone, indeed no one has to, when our help is just a prayer away. Let us rejoice in this season and begin to ask,

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine on us.” (Psalm 67 v1)

and to sing,

“Praise awaits you, our God in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled.” (Psalm 65 v1)

May all HIs blessings be yours!

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Every Day, Backstage Drama

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday,these were all trying, tiring days every day with its own troubles and every one bringing something to worry about for the next day. Most of the beautiful, new stones for the War Memorial were delivered and loads of old, unsightly rubble taken away. There are giant bags of building materials waiting to be used; all system go until the rain arrived and the bride for her Saturday Wedding, and along with the Bride the photographers, so how do you hide a major work like the restoration of a War Memorial?

If, by any chance, you have ever worked backstage in a theatre, working the magic with ropes, pulleys, costume changes and scenery shifting, then you have a fair idea of what last week was all about.

For the most part, that is what being a disciple of Christ is about. It is n’t about being centre-stage delivering the great lines on cue, singing the soaring soprano solo or the profound bass one, conducting the orchestra; no its backstage work, hard and unseen, it is about giving The Lord who we are, what we have, where we are.

What can we do to hasten the time, the time that will surely be, when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.” These are words from and old hymn by A.C. Ainger.

So often it is, that we believe that the preacher, the speaker, the singer, the musician, the worship leaders are the ones who glorify The Lord – that it is those who are centre-stage who honour him.

Perhaps we are wrong.

We cannot all be speakers, singers, musicians, we cannot all be leaders, we cannot all produce beautiful works of art, poetry or eloquent prose; but whoever we are, The Lord does require something of us:

“What does the LORD require of you?”
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”

(Micah 6 v8)

Backstage, I have learned to do the best that I can, smile, and leave room for grace. I have also learnt this, if the stage hands, the bit-part players in our churches are not doing these three things, if the preachers, pastors and priests are not doing them; then God is not being honoured and it may yet be sometime before the earth is filled with His Glory as the waters cover the sea.

May The Lord bless your days and assist you with his grace.

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Brevitting For Something Lost

I came across them this morning, ‘brevitting’ in the Churchyard. ‘Brevitting’ was a word quite commonly used in these parts when I was a girl. To Brevitt is look, hunt or search for in a very thorough way. If Grandma told you, ‘Stop brevitting in my drawers’ then you would already have the drawers contents strewn about in an untidy sprawl, as you pursued some object of desire, some elusive and lost something.

And what were the genteel husband and wife looking for on a lovely September morning amongst the wild flowers and headstones, with folders, notes and a copy of the churchyard map (obtained from library archives) clutched in their hands like Sherlock Holmes’ magnifying glass.

Well, long lost relatives, memorials, names and inscriptions. Like treasure hunters, gold prospectors, they were on the trail of their ‘Family Tree.’ They were also just a little bit lost themselves and more than glad to meet someone else, who looked as if she knew where she was going, and could explain the landmarks on their old map, things have changed since it was first drawn up with dip-pen and ink.

‘See these graves here, the ones just surrounded by the blue-bricks without memorials, would they be paupers’ graves?’

‘No.’ Gently I explain that the blue kerbstones usually indicate a brick-lined grave and that if you had been really poor yours would have been a simple earth burial, no kerbstones, just a numbered iron marker. And that the large stone headstones which were finally identified as belonging to their ancestors were few in number, because these long lost relatives had been ‘richer’ than many.

This information was received with a kind of quiet satisfaction.

Everyone wants to discover that they come from a ‘good line’-from people who ‘made it’ And more and more people are trying to discover ‘who they are’

As recently as 50 years ago, folks in these parts could sit and talk through their own line, going back 3/4 generations; they knew just who was cousin to whom and how many times removed. Those days, of simply sitting and talking and recounting family history have gone, the stories are not passed on and something precious has been lost, that something for many is the knowledge of whom they truly are.

Talking is good. Talking keep families together, passes on memories and the knowledge of whom we are,

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him, he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.” (Isaiah 51: 1,2,)

Yes, there are many today who are looking to the rock from which they were cut and for the quarry from which they were hewn, hoping to find themselves, their roots,
and amongst their roots their identity, but few are seeking the Lord, the passage reminds us that before Abraham was, He was. It was the Shepherd and the Rock of Israel who blessed Abraham and made him a family, and many.

Standing amongst the memorials, I hear the faintest of whispers,

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5)

I Know that everything I have ever searched for has been found in one place, I look to the Shepherd, the Rock the one who blesses.

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