Breaking Eggs, Making a New Start

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You can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg.

To finish we have to begin, a painting needs the first brush stroke, a book the first word, a journey the first step.

But we don’t stop with one omelette, unless the first was appallingly bad, or one painting, one book, one Journey. If first attempts turn out badly most cooks, artists, writers or travellers will have another go.

That would be my advice for anyone embarking on a spiritual journey, if things don’t seem to turn out as you planned, have another go. It seems to be true, that we learn more by our failures than we do our successes, but beware of pride, In fact in matters of faith we should beware of the things which we seem to get gold stars and praise for. It is not us to whom the glory should go. We should not be known for our wonderful personality more than The Lord should be praised for the fruits of our secret giving and deeds, and our best prayers are the ones He alone hears in our secret closet.

Why am I writing this now, well Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent, the time of giving, and collecting, and charitable doing is underway … Do we need a special season to do all these things?

No.

Do we need to make sure that we get the credit for our charitable acts?
No. The one who sees in secret knows what we do and also the motivation of our hearts. Charity is not Charity when done for vainglory.

Sometimes the egg which The Lord most wants us to break into his bowl is our pride, follow that by selfish motivation and will, and He will be happy with the resulting dish.

Advent is a time like a Lent, for preparing and making new, many lovely people will have that hope of renewing their hearts, of becoming the persons we are meant to be. What we all need, I feel is to remember that is only achievable if we allow The Lord to to break eggs. Renewal is His work. Let’s not put our self in his way.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new”
(Revelation 21v5)

May it be so.
Amen

Would You Like Jam?

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We were taught how to make Jam in Secondary School in what was then known as the Domestic Science Class. The teacher was, quite frankly, not as sweet as the jam, she was, you might say firm.
And firm, is exactly how some of the jam turned out, ‘couldn’t get the spoon in to get it out,‘ one girl complained, yet another had a jar of stuff you could pour out. So maybe jam-making should be approached scientifically. Any way, my jam wasn’t that bad, not that good either, but we ate it.
I can still remember the instructions that we were given but feel somehow, that the perfect jam takes perseverance and practice much as the spells taught at Hogwarts School of Magic do in the books. Correct measures, controlled cooking temperatures and times .. If jam making is your forte, I am not too old to learn from you, probably a little unscientific though but I do admire and enjoy your end-product, there is nothing so wonderful as home made jam. It is in fact magic!

Magic, used to be an expression quite commonly used to refer to any good result, or product. Working to put butter on your bread, is what you ended up doing when you finished school and when my friends and I finished our education we were happy to take up any job available, we were happy with butter on our bread, nowadays jam is an essential requirement as well; to use another time worn cliche we want jam on it. We also want our jam in new flavours, doesn’t matter how unlikely the ingredients seem, we will try anything once, providing it comes in a new kind of jar and the price is through the roof.

If you think this is a post about cliches, you would be wrong.

Everyday I pray, ” Give us today, our daily bread

I do not ask for either butter or jam, but for my daily bread, and everyday I am satisfied. I know that the Heavenly Father gives me the true bread from heaven, Jesus, (John 6 v32)and that is enough for me. Magic is not the word for this bread, Miraculous is entirely the word.

“I The Lord of wind and flame,
I will tend the poor and lame,
I will set a feast for them,
My hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide
Till their hearts be satisfied
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send?”

( Dan Schutte)

The Father sent the Son, and the Son is He who teaches me to ‘hold the Lord’s people in my heart’

What would I pray for you?

May your life be sweetened not with jam, but with the ‘bread of angels”

Shelter from the storm

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When I look at this photo of the path leading to a tiny, old country church I am reminded that back in history the strong walls of a church truly were a refuge for the dwellers in towns where the churches were much bigger and in the little villages, where perhaps there might have just been a half dozen houses or so. They provided shelter from great storms, from armies, from marauding
Vikings, Danes …

I think of the many feet who have walked the path to the open porch door, sometimes those feet would have belonged to children, skipping along, sometimes, perhaps man and wife might have walked it arm in arm … The long ‘Nave’ of a church like mine with its timbered roof is to remind us of Noah’s Ark carrying precious cargo, the family of Noah and the animals who also walked up the gangplank two by two.

That was quite Storm, wasn’t it? 40 days and 40 days with the days as dark as night, and the nights so palled with cloud that the light of moon and stars couldn’t break through, and then the jarring jolt as His Majesty’s Ship ARK came to rest on Mount Ararat. After the rain, the sun and rainbow, and that is the way of things even today. We have our storms and all need to find refuge and shelter from time to time, equally we all need, in church and life, to be good sailors working together to bring HMS Ark safely through storm and high seas,

⚓️”We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
Fastened to the rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep
In the Saviours love!’
⚓️
Priscilla Jane Owens (1829-99)

King David looked for help in his troubles and came to rest on a rock higher than Mount Ararat, higher ground there is none and no fortress ever built as strong as the love of God.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
A strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent for ever
And take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Psalm 61 vv 3-4

The Joy That We share

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on roses
And the voice I hear falling
On my ear the son of God discloses

And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

(Merle Haggard)

This has been a sad, long and hard week.

To the people of the Philippines devastating, overwhelming, sorrow beyond telling, it was so good to see on the news last night, the first plane from the U.S. touching down, the herald of hope. In my own little world there is sadness too, but not like theirs, at the Seder kept by Jewish friends they
dip bitter herbs into sweet Haroset, which calls to mind that life is like that bitter mingled with the sweet, sadness with joy.

The words I chose at the beginning were sung at a funeral service in church yesterday, the lady had reached her 83rd year and from what was said they had been good ones, but I daresay that there had also been times of grief along the way, “I come to the Garden alone” I keep these words in mind we all come to be alone with our sadness, and joy sometime, and yet to those who know The Lord, we are not alone, we have been promised ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the world’

Now this is a precious promise, welcome, oh so welcome, the voice of the Beloved in the Garden, I think about The Lord Jesus and His last walk to a garden his friends went with him, but left Him alone while they slept for weariness and sorrow. An angel came and strengthened him. I am sure that angels are doing that work in the Philippines now, and yes some have human faces and, hands but He walks with them and talks to them Himself may He give to them a taste of the joy which is shared amongst the angels in the a Kingdom of God, and may their lost loved ones Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory!

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Looking Forward and Building a Palace

Life seems full of waiting and looking forward. We wait for things to change, for opportunity, for love, for a baby, and we are always looking forward to the next holiday, the next season and yes, next year.

On the whole we have little patience for either, we rush to change things for the better and looking back we find, in our haste we made things worse.

As for looking forward sometimes we find our emotions and minds tied up, knotted, especially if we are looking forward with dread or fear for the worst to happen.

Unless our heavenly. Father knows differently in just a couple of weeks time, we shall be changing the church’s colours to purple which is the liturgical colour of Advent the season which looks forward to the second coming of Christ as King. For some of course there will be a question mark against that statement, some not really accepting that He came the first time.

In churches like mine Advent marks the beginning of a new church year when the cycle of set, liturgical readings begins again. That seems appropriate, beginning a new year in the wintry cold we look out for the blooming of the Christmas Rose. if I am honest the Christmas Rose blooms for me everyday, it’s fragrance seems to bless especially those days when I feel down or sad; and the days when I forget to look up, these are the times when the mystery of that fragrant love will simply surround me, and draw my gaze upwards until the eyes of my heart come to rest on my Saviour.

What causes a Christian sadness? Sometimes, I think changes that we cannot understand. The knocks and bangs of change that we never said Amen to, because we never expected them – the happenings in our, so called, ordinary lives are not ruled by any calendar and neither are our spiritual lives, (those parts of us that we like to keep distinct and separate from our everyday self.)

These words are from Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation. Is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

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Buckingham Palace

It isn’t that God is wishes to make us better people.
No, it’s more than that.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be he has not yet made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him. For we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

I look forward to that day.

Showers of Blessing and Mrs You-Know-Who Plus Cake

Plip, plop, Plip, plop, Plip ……

There was a steady, rhythmic drip of water into a line of buckets tucked closely to the vestry wall, a smell of damp timbers and a puddle spreading out under the heavy, oak door; leaning on the mop I asked myself the question, why?

Why are places of worship singled out by thieves and targeted by vandals?

Mrs You- Know-Who was renowned as a Job’s comforter, “It’s because God has withdrawn his protection,” those would have been her words. Were she still alive, that is what she would have said; or rather pronounced in an authoritative tone implying that all us others must be guilty of some wrongdoing, and this was now pay back time , of course if Mrs You-Know-who had been the one who was the victim than that was pure wickedness on the offenders part and God would show them …

Not quite sure why dear Mrs You-Know-Who should have come to mind, yet I do mean dear because she was really a good soul at heart. In her last years, before being called home her great worry was that there would be no one to remember her. Her husband had died from wounds during the war, she was a widow in the true sense of the word with no children, no one left .. Yet the flower arrangers have n’t forgotten there is always a vase of flowers for Mrs You-Know-Who and that makes me smile now, leaning on my mop. In her lifetime she was like a rainy day, her words a constant drip of blame, folk would huff and puff at her latest outburst, mostly she never drew breath from complaining about them – yet she is remembered with compassion , the woman who thought no one would remember.

The human heart is strange, but in all of us, there is that of God.

I sing these words as I mop,

There shall be showers of blessing”
This is the promise of love:
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Saviour above

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

Later in the afternoon all those born before 1945 were invited by a group of young people from St Michael’s school to tea and cake in the Church Hall. Now I am really happy to say, I was n’t born before 1945, but I unlocked the hall for them and made sure they would be warm enough and took a few photos before leaving them to make friends.

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Showers of Blessing disguised as Cup-Cakes”

I heard this evening that there will be other meetings-meetings between young and old with outings and other treats to be planned. I think even Mrs You-Know-Who would have been pleased and found a home with this group.

Me, I find comfort in believing that not all young people turn into lead thieves or vandals .. Some are caught in showers of blessing, some are, themselves blessings!

When we meet with a blessing let’s not put up an umbrella, rather let us let those ‘Raindrops keep falling on our heads

The No’s of November

Well, we come to November and the Trick and Treating is over, I can hear the bangs and whooshes of sky borne rockets, somewhere there are bonfires celebrating November 5th in advance and the uncovering of the dastardly plot to blow up the King and parliament .. In the dark of a winter long past two of the plotters sought refuge in Rowley Hall (unfortunately demolished in the 1960s), which stood a stone throw from the church. Of course the hapless plotters were all caught and a terrible penalty was paid. Perhaps the thought of being hung,, drawn, quartered and burnt at the stake was regarded as an effective deterrent in those days… At any rate these are dark thoughts on a dark night, full of bangs.

Before it was light this morning, some modern day villains wrecked the west porch roof, they had a mind, (if that is an expression to be used of mindless folk) to strip the lead flashings and make money from the sale. Unfortunately that particular roof has been stripped before and the flashings were a substitute; discovering that must have been a shock so they tore up the roof tiles. Heavy rain has been forecast overnight, so three of the men from church have spent the afternoon with a local builder trying to cover the roof over and avert a flood and damage to the church interior until proper repairs can be carried out.

Perhaps that is why I feel slightly low in spirits.

Here is a poem from Thomas Hood (1789-1845). Possibly he wrote this when feeling a little down himself.

November

No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –
November!

BUT, today we have kept All Saints Sunday and I have reminded myself that the Saints with a capital ‘S’ and with a small ‘s’ (those ordinary folk who just do their best, like you and I) – had and have their times of trial, they knew the feeling of wanting to throw in the towel, and give up. However they didn’t. Like Jesus before them they were sure that everlasting joy awaited them if they but kept to the King’s highway … Isaiah calls it (chapter 35 v. 8) – The Way of Holiness, and says that wicked fools such as lead thieves will never go about on it. The promise that the desert and the parched land will be glad; and that the wilderness will rejoice and blossom, that like the crocus it will burst into bloom that it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy with which Isaiah begins this chapter .. Was I think given to all saints great and small, it is a promise which God will keep.

The painting is called November Afternoon and by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893)

I like it because it evokes in me a feeling that however misty, damp, sad November can be that path through the trees will lead straight home … I will just keep my feet on the path then, and remind myself “that I will enter Zion with singing.” – so it is good to practice right now.

Joy to all who love The Lord!

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