On the 2nd Day of Christmas

On the 2nd Day of Christmas, it is good to be able just to sit, and sip in precious moments of stillness, the Partridge in a a Pear Tree didn’t arrive yesterday, many other things did…

Two Turtle Doves didn’t arrive this morning but out in the garden other little birds are busy about their lawful occupations and all is well, and all manner of things are well with my world.

I really, just want to say thank you to all the visitors to my little blog this year, for the kindness of your comments and your gentle encouragement. Out of all the many comings and goings at a little parish church over the last few days, one will stay with me.

Like most church’s, I guess Christmas morning services are not so well attended, (although crowds to the Crib Service on Christmas Eve afternoon, and Midnight Communions often mean there are not enough Carol Sheets and Hymn Books to go around’) yesterday morning a little family visiting us for the first time were able to creep up to the stable/altar and take a peek undisturbed. Watching, unobserved, I saw the three little girls kneel down carefully, for just a little while it was obvious that they were some place else, perhaps, in Bethlehem long ago. Three pairs of hands were clasped together and although I did not hear, but know that God did, three tiny mouths spoke their little prayers.

At the door, handing me their hymn books, I was asked, “will you be here after Christmas?”

On hearing my, “oh yes.”

Three little girls with innocent, shining faces, chorused,

” So will we, every Sunday now.”

I was hugged, thanked and hugged, but, can’t help wondering if they meant in church or in that other place they seemed to have glimpsed through an open stable door!

My love and blessings to all, with a wish that you too get a peek through the great doorway of Christmas into another, very special place.

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Amongst the many other things that arrived 25th December a personalised pink note book!

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God Holds the Key of all Unknown

The end of another day, a dry, sunny but cold winter’s day, as night fell I found myself thinking about what is around the corner the other side of Christmas. What will the New Year bring? Already before the Old Year is rung out next years problems are beginning to make themselves known. Things look a bit scary, a bit grey and fuzzy now, there are problems needing solutions and ways forward to be looked for.

Sitting quietly on the floor, enjoying the warmth of the fire, I resolve to leave all in God’s hands, there is nothing that can be done just now.

God holds the key of all unknown,
And I am glad;
If other hands should hold the key,
Or if He trusted it to me,
I might be sad, I might be sad.”

“I cannot read His future plans;
But this I know:
I have the smiling of His Face
And all the refuge of His grace,
While here below”

“Enough! This covers all my wants,
And so I rest!
For what I cannot, He can see
And in a His care I saved shall be,
For ever blest.”

(Revd. J Parker)

In church the rain has ceased to pour in, the roof has been fixed, the bill paid. The Nativity figures are in the stable (under the altar table) and the scattered golden barley straw will gleam in the candle light. The big tree is dressed and I am looking forward to the first of 3 School Carol Services tomorrow, to excited children’s chatter and beaming faces. This had been a good year. God has been faithful and kept whispered promises.

As for next year, this is what I know I can count on,

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

(Psalm 32v8)

If you are feeling uncertain of what the future will bring, take heart and courage.

God holds the key of all unknown

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My little Christmas Tree

The Key

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This key is a Master Key. Big, weighty it locks and unlocks every door with a lock in church.
When our present Vicar was inducted the Bishop presented him with his own copy at the main church door, near that door there is a bell pull connected to the tenor bell, way, way, up there in the tower, taking hold of the Sally, our new Vicar gave it a pull and let the whole village know he had arrived.

We have a peal of 8 bells, and there are stories to tell, bell ringers are special people from all walks of life, and all ages. Our ringers don’t all hail from Rowley, some don’t attend church, but all love the fellowship of being part of a team that can make bells sing.

What do bells sing about?

Well they sing a song of joy for bride and groom and invite the hearers to stop and say a prayer fur them. Shrouded, they sing a lament for those passed on to pastures new, soon they will be singing the Christmas Message, and then ringing in the New Year.

However the master key opens all the doors from the foot of the steep staircase, right up into the Ringing chamber at the top of the tower. Without this key there is no right of way, no singing bells.

Unless the parish’s chosen representatives say yes, this man of woman is the right shepherd for this place, the Bishop will not place the key in the hand of that man or woman, they are not entrusted with the care of the sheep, or to teach them the scriptures.

However the key that I am musing about, is a greater key than this one. A key not much talked about these days, but whoever knows Jesus has their own personal copy of it. It is the key to the Fathers Heart and it is turned with a movement called prayer.

A novice bell ringer needs to learn how to ‘ring the changes’ – how to work with others – otherwise there will be a few ” clangers”

Prayer is like that.
Through prayer we learn from our Teacher how to be part of very large family, that working together we can Ring out The Good News, welcomed by all. Otherwise, untutored we could well be making an ‘unholy’ din.

O Key of David, and sceptre of the house of Israel,
Who opens and no one can shut,
Who shuts and no one can open.
Come and bring the prisoners from the prison house,
Those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death”

(Advent refrain on the Magnificat for the 20th December/Celebrating Common Prayer)

Oh yes, Come Lord Jesus! Open the door for us to safety, peace and love.

new work

I give thanks for the Lord’s faithfulness to this church and his family everywhere!

From an other-wise-sane perspective

if you’ve been wondering why i’ve been a little scarce lately, have been working on building a website. it is almost finished, just needs a few more things.

but have set up a blog for the pastor and the church, and wanted to share that and she is new to blogging and if you could be supportive, would be really great!

thanks so much ….

will reblog her first blog here, and hope you visit.

on the page i designed, used a black-and-white motif with banner photos in black and white to blend well with the Methodist red. so tones of grey and red. added some stylized grey brick accent. sort of proud that i was able to do some of the more complex coding for the embed projects.

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can click on the picture to go to the site.

and the church blog is at: http://centenaryunitedmethodist.wordpress.com

visit and follow ……

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The Slow Watches

The days are busy, full of coming and going, but they are also short, darkness falls earlier each day, but it is not the darkness of my childhood days. Down the lane of my birth, the gas lamps were widely spaced and only one side of the lane was lit, but there again the few houses were only set on one side of the lane the opposite side was bordered by a steep bank and rough fields. My word, the lane was steep, my little legs sometimes wondered if they would ever reach the top, and snowfalls meant we were snowbound; whilst ice and frost on the pavement meant you reached the bottom quicker than expected.

What really sticks in my mind about those dark, winter nights are the starry skies. In the absence of light pollution the still, silent stars were thrilling. So much so that I wanted to know their names and all I could about them. When I became older, I became the owner of two telescopes, a refractor and a reflector – I still have them – but more, and more housing developments, and glows from motorways etc mean that the stars have lost their glory … Light pollution they call it.

Down through the years I have been questioned many times, by many kinds if people on how it is possible to have a love of the stars, to know them by name and at the same believe that God created them. I can’t really answer that but I don’t have any difficulties, never have done. I am sure that God knows all their names too.

Yes, I know everything is so vast, there are galaxies beyond number, let alone stars; there is so much, very much more knowledge about the cosmos gained since I was a little girl of 4 or 5, a teenager and a young woman learning the math and how to draw a planetary orbit, make my own star charts, but still it seems to me that the Maker of the stars looks over my shoulder and takes an interest in what I am doing, what I am learning now. In just the same friendly way He was with us a little while ago as we practised carols for the Christmas Service.

John was with us too, born in the village he emigrated to Australia many years ago, but comes over to visit around this time, and to sit in the choir stalls where he sat as a little boy. It was John, who reminded me of the way people used to make sure, if they heard on the wireless that snow was coming, to leave the entry door open because if the snow came and piled up against it folk were stuck. No one ever went into the house by the front door, front doors were only opened when a coffin was carried out. John is older than I, but born like me into an old fashioned world which has changed so rapidly, in so very short a time. Nothing stands still, but these dark, still (yes the echo of the stillness is still there underneath the traffic’s hum) Advent Nights are still times of waiting, if we have a power cut tonight the stars would suddenly shine out.

Thy kingdom come! on bended knee
The passing ages pray;
And faithful souls have yearned to see
On earth that kingdom’s day.

But the slow watches of the night
Not less to God belong;
And for the everlasting right
The silent stars are strong.

And lo, already on the hills
The flags of dawn appear;
Gird up your loins, ye prophet souls,
Proclaim the day is near.

The day in whose clear shining light
All wrong shall stand revealed,
When justice shall be throned in might,
And every hurt be healed.

When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
Shall walk the earth abroad;
The day of perfect righteousness,
The promised day of God.

(words by Frederick L. Hosmer (1891)

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I love this painting, if you look very closely over the head of Jesus you can see a star, the artist Holman Hunt, painted in the planet Venus (the evening and the morning star). Now Jesus is the Morning Star and I look for His coming. However rapid the advances in science, however great the changes, deep down things, the earth is still waiting for ‘the day when knowledge, hand in hand with peace, shall walk the earth abroad.’

Jesus also is standing at the front door and waiting.

Who will let Him in?
The promised day of perfect righteousness cannot happen until we do this.