I am so tired, late nights working to meet deadlines,meetings that got in the way, and then last Friday, Church and the Hall across the road hosted ‘Rowley’s Got Talent’ from 7am to 7pm. Yes a Marathon with contributions from just about every local school, break dancing in between the choir stalls, now that really was a first! Violins, guitars, brass instruments, singers in the church with large orchestra in the hall and a ballroom dancing exhibition; must n’t forget a flower arranging demonstration and bead craft … me, well, I was talked into reading Poetry, I selected poems from an Anthology compiled to raise funds for Mackmillan Nurses, we are in March and the yellow daffodil emblems are on sale everywhere.
Very few of us were there all day, the talented ones and sponsor/supporters came and went all day… but it was a good, fun day with nerves, smiles and laughter, very few mishaps, and a lot of loving friendship shared. I think Joyce who organised the day and bought all the schools, together deserves a gold medal! It was a feat worthy of an Olympian!
The Bell Ringers closed the day for us climbing the tower to ring out the day with merry peals of bell laughter…
The painting chosen for last Sunday’s Morning Service was ‘Nicodemus Visiting Jesus by Night’ which is oil on canvas painted by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1899). This is housed in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. U.S.A. I feel Reverend Shelton is rather enjoying talking about painting, giving us some intriguing lines of thought to follow. In this particular painting, which is a night scene, where is the yellow light coming from? From Jesus himself, perhaps?
In the Gospel Account (John 3) we read that Nicodemus visited Jesus by night looking for answers to searching questions. I have no doubt that the ‘light of the world’ was able to provide satisfactory answers for Nicodemus .. At the end of the same Gospel we read of Nicodemus visiting Jesus again, this time in broad daylight, with no fear for reputation, together with Joseph of Arimathea Nicodemus wrapped the body of Jesus with mixture of precious myrrh and aloes in strips of linen before he was lain in his tomb.
One thing about that, it is easy for Christians with 2000 years hindsight to give Nicodemus a reputation for being one who fearfully, secretly followed Jesus, but the Nicodemus who came to the cross came openly and expressed his love and generosity was not the same Nicodemus, following our Lord changes us, it is not God’s intention that we should be the same person at the end of our chapter as we were in the first sentence. This is why he allows us to go through so many trials in life, St Paul (Romans 5: 4) suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character and character
I have been literally been stunned into silence this week, not that I visited Jesus by Night, but the other way round. He reminded me that at the start of my chapter in his book, he gave me, as Pentecostal brothers and sisters would say, a picture of his gift to me, appearing as a big, big, box, wonderfully, wonderfully wrapped and tied with exquisite ribbons. Now, down through nearly 50 years my thoughts have often returned to that box. Often I have asked,
“What is in the box? How do I open it? Open it for me, Lord”
Finally, what a dim wit I am, I know now what is in that box.
It is LOVE.
The love which I have known and delighted in all those years past, the tears he has shared with me, his laughter I have felt mingling with mine, a lifetime of being held, carried by God, all the wonder of the life that is still to come… LOVE.
If you are reading this with doubt, with questions you would ask Jesus. Don’t be afraid, to come to him anyway, anyhow you can .. You won’t always understand his answers but he will give you a big, big box, open it, it’s LOVE.
OPEN THE BOX!