For Dark And Light Are Both Alike to Thee

Boo!
What is it about putting the clocks back that unnerves us so?
It isn’t always us girls that jump.

I received a text from a Ken who had gone up to church, and in the puddle of gloom just inside the porch, saw a shadowy form. It was just a dressmakers mannequin modelling Joseph’s coat of many colours, and behind him, well that was just a dummy, created by Junior Church, originally intended to be the man set about by robbers in the story of the Good Samaritain. It was dusky dark, and Ken hadn’t been in church to see them left there. He just jumped. Out of his boots!

Dusk, gloom, darkness, all three get inside our heads and imagination. Perhaps something left over before street lighting, porch lights (there is one on the outside of that particular door – just needs a hand to reach round and switch the inside one on), perhaps.

Singing practice for Christmas services starts this week. 6pm is a dreadful time for one or two of the ladies, I have promised to be there and open the big gates to make it possible for them to park their vehicles close by the front porch. Because no one likes walking down the narrow path to the back door. The path by the way is illuminated by security lighting, but just happens to run parallel to the churchyard for a little way.

I walk. Everywhere. I shall be walking up the road, in dare I say it, in the dark by myself, to open the gates and doors to let them all in. Maybe using a telescope in the backyard, when younger, has helped, I don’t know. I love dark skies, which we don’t have around here anymore, I love to see the stars blaze out. I like it dark enough to identify the lunar seas, and the Orion’s Sword Handle. Or, perhaps I am very conscious that the darkness and the light are both alike to God.

“if I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light around me. (Psalm 139 v11)

I love this verse, from the Hymn By J Ellerton, we used to sing it as the last hymn of the Evening Service.

Grant us thy peace. lord through the coming night;
Turn thou fir us it’s darkness into light;
From harm and danger keep thy children free,
For dark and light are both alike to thee.”

I wonder how many find time to say a short prayer as the dusk fall?

The photo shows St Philips, the Cathedral Church of Birmingham Diocese, it is I think rather lovely, and newly posted on the Cathedral’s Facebook page.

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Because We Are the Lilies of The Field

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For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

These are the words carved between the angel heads on our simple wooden lytchgate. In times past the bearers (on foot if you were a poor family) would lay their burden on the bench inside and rest awhile before continuing on to bury their loved one.

Now when I am tired, sad or discouraged, I take time and rest awhile, taking in the loveliness of nature, I consider the lilies of the field. I know those words which say we are like the flowers which fall I know the words Jesus spoke concerning the lilies of the field, of how that King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as well as these humble, short -lived flowers, and I don’t feel sad any more, I recognise that I am a Lily of the field, you might say, here today, gone tomorrow. I say, yes, but “gone where?”

From a child, I have passed by, read those words on the lytchgate, I know who I have believed, the gate that Jesus keeps, is not the gate to the churchyard but to eternal life. Take a careful look at the poppies here. They are not sad, they are in festal gowns.

I wish you joy!

One Poppy to Rule Them All

Over the past couple of weeks children have filled church, filled it with their art, drawing, painting and sculpture and rather wonderfully with themselves.

Two special schools visited Monday morning, among them traumatised children unable to cope with lessons in a normal school environment, the sound of a bell to announce changing lessons some would find terrifying, but come they did to see their work and the work of others, notice they did, that in the first church porch we were getting ready for Remembrance Sunday.

Wednesday morning a gift arrived in church. I have called it One Poppy to Rule Them All. Made in the Art Department at Whiteheath Education Centre, from plaster and hand painted,it measures perhaps 2ft x 2ft. We set it carefully against a choir stall .. Stood back and admired.

So much to admire, isn’t there? The skill of the hands that made and painted it, the patience and gift of the teachers who gave instruction. Most of all, I think the love of children who saw what we were preparing to do, to honour the memory if those fallen in battle in defence of freedom and peace…

Wednesday afternoon, 90 little shrimps, visited from another school. Aged just 5 years or less, they stole my heart, especially when one young lady christened their mascot a teddy, she named him Dan, in the big stone font, with me hanging on to make sure both didn’t fall into it!

Little eyes quickly spotted the big Poppy and I was told enthusiastically that all were going to buy a Poppy to wear at school the next day.

I just praise God for all of our children, and give thanks for the freedom and security they have, for the education they have, for those who teach and inspire them, I pray that all the world’s children might be so blessed. I hear a whisper from long ago,

“Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19 v14)

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