Category: home church

The Baby is washed~ Getting ready

The baby is washed

The days are counting down to St Giles Christmas Fayre, this coming Saturday and for the very first time the Flower Ladies are having a Festival over in the Church on the same day. Which means double the amount of work with Friday as busy as Saturday. Perhaps I should explain that the Church Hall, where the Fayre happens is separated from the Church by a very busy road.

I am not a flower arranger by any manner of means ~ so non-plussed, totally when told,

“We decided you are doing the baptistery!”

My first reaction was… I can’t do that.

Putting two flowers in a glass jar would be my limit. So I decided to take an easy way out and turn the Baptistery into a stable, using the font as a manager. Linda sent text this afternoon to tell me her husband has left me a bale of straw in the baptistery, Olwyn says going to leave me sacking, other ladies are loaning shawls for the baby; the baby is 61 years old so Iris proudly told me, “But he is a little bit dirty….”

She was quite right, the Baby needed a bath, and I gave Him one this afternoon, taking the greatest of care. It has been such a long time since I washed a doll, let alone a live baby, and that I can assure you under his/her mom’s careful supervision. I have never married, always found that Jesus was enough, still do; washing the baby bought thoughts of Mary washing Jesus to mind, as I carefully washed each tiny finger and toe nail and behind His ears. Perhaps Mary had to borrow to wrap Jesus snuggly in those swaddling bands and to make the manager warm enough.

So here we go on course for the beginning of Advent, an Adven(ture).


(Chorus) Cloth for the cradle,

Cradle for the child,

The child for our every joy and sorrow;

Find him a shawl that’s woven by us all

To welcome the Lord

Of each tomorrow.

Words from John L Bell (b. 1949) and Graham Maule (b.1958)


…..And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Lord, you lived among us as a homeless stranger,

As a helpless child, carried in your mother’s arms in flight from a ruthless king,

Grown to manhood, you had no place to lay your head

And in your death your tomb was borrowed

Grant that every day, in everything I may be willing

To place all that I have, all that I am into your arms,

Your service,

Your keeping.

Amen

Bible verse: Luke 2.7 (NASB)

Prayer: My own

It does matter, in God’s House,

Three Church leaders chatted about the behaviour of children at the last session of a craft/ family meeting.
Some of the Children had been noisy and more inclined to run about the large hall then to do crafts etc.
Last month, it was pointed out the noise, running around running etc had been even worse, far worse because that had been in the actual Church not the Church Hall.
The Supervisory Leader retorted that Church was God’s House and that children had to be made welcome… Full stop.
Another leader declared angrily that parents should keep their children under control, and pay more attention to what their child, in some cases, children were doing, and less to mobile phones!

I simply ventured to say that on this occasion, some of the activity had been a little “old for some of the children, and maybe today, they had been a little bored.”

That last statement had been true, and seemed to calm the three friends down. But I went away feeling a little saddened by some of the things I had heard especially concerning the meeting in the Church. Nowadays, many ‘ unchurched (that’s the name I have heard given to visitors who come in for weddings, christeningsjust do not have a sense of where they are, and all too sadly what the service is all about. If this is true of adults it is most certainly true of children. My church is a warm hearted, welcoming church … All are welcome … full stop. Yet I have an aching sadness and a longing for, My Father’s House of Prayer.
I rarely quarrel, I try very hard not too at times, yet it stayed with me that that in order to be a welcoming place, The House of Prayer has to sacrifice its character and those who seek a quiet place to bring troubled hearts, to pray … and to actually hear the word of God, just have to accept the changes in the world.
Then, the word of the Lord which came this morning on waking… the word from His Perspective..
“It does matter to Me. How can I bless little ones if they are not bought to me? Did I ever turn children away when they were bought to me? Did I ever refuse to bless them. I have not changed. But the times and manners of people have. Surely, you know this. Not everyone who enters a church, comes to me, but how I will bless the ones who bring little ones and teach them to listen for my voice, how can I lay my hand on a child who won’t keep still”
Yes, Church is God’s House of Prayer, consecrated that my Presence might rest there, surely it is right for my people, who call themselves my people, to speak to parents that they should pay attention to the manners and behaviour of their children. I teach that Mother and Father should be honoured and also that a Mother and Father should admonish their children and grandchildren to honour me. How can I bless if I am not heard?“

As for those who ache with sadness, ‘Have they not read, that I, also was eaten up with zeal for my Father‘s House, did I not say, it should be called a House of Prayer?”
“I ask again, how can I bless if little ones are not bought to me?” How can my hand touch and bless, how can I be heard, if my children are not still? And who will ask my questions for Me. ”
The cross and flowers were part of Easter display in Church.

Shine Jesus, shine

This year Hanukkah and Advent Sunday shared the same 1st day, 2nd December.

My church always remembers children who need help by holding a Christingle Service and collecting gifts for the Children’s Society (Church of England,)on Advent Sunday some of our Christingles are pictured.

The orange represents the world, the red ribbon the Blood of Jesus, the four cocktail sticks with sweets and nuts, the fruits of the earth and four seasons, the candle the light of the world ~ Jesus.

New toys were also bought to the same Service and blessed before they are distributed to local children in families in need. True, good faith works, does, acts, as well as believes. And, who knowing how much our Heavenly Father loves us can ignore the needs of others ~ not enough is it, to wish someone a happy Christmas without contributing to their happiness? No we have to help our Father and gift wrap His love.

Advent Sunday marks the start of a new Liturgical Year when the cycle of church lessons and readings begins again, as we read again from the Old Testament the witness God made beforehand through the prophets of the coming of Jesus into the world, to be the Glory of His people Israel and to be a light to the gentiles, so it seems to me that in His Light we truly see light and desire the light, joy and peace of His Presence to pierce the darkness of the world which ‘knows Him not’ and those who are impoverished, hurting or sorrowful, remembering that sometimes the one who growls like a bear, and is always angry or has a sour disposition is like that, because they have suffered or are suffering at the hands of others.

Advent is our wake-up call, it shouts, rather than whispers that we should wake-up now, and take stock of the oil we have in our jars for our lamps, in order to be ready when the bridegroom comes, and about our Christian duties as His servants when Christ returns.

Hanukkah (Chanukah) remembers the purification of the Temple and its rededication in 165BC (you can read about it in the books of Maccabees included in the Apocrypha), The temple had been defiled by Seleucid King Antiochus Epiphanes who sacrificed a pig on the altar and poured its blood on the Scripture Scrolls. The Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks was a miracle of God’s deliverance, but Hanukkah also known as the Festival of Lights remembers another miracle the provision of oil for the eternal light in the Temple. After its cleansing, it was found that there was only one days supply of oil to relight the eternal flame, the symbol of God’s presence .. but the Lord gave another miracle and the flame burned for the eight days necessary to purify new oil.

Then as now, the Lord our God provides and will send His Holy Spirit to those who ask, His Son and Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world in order to light the lamps and candles of all who would serve God with a true heart, just as the shammash (servant candle of the nine branched hanukkiyah) is used to light the other eight each night of Hanukkah… only Jesus lights us for eternity.

Shine, Jesus, shine,

Fill this land with the Father’s glory;

Blaze, Spirit, blaze,

Set our heart’s on fire,

Flow, river, flow,

Flood the nations with grace and metcy;

Send forth your Word, Lord,

And let there be light,

(Graham Kendrick (b. 1930)

May Jesus the Glory of His people Israel the Light of the Nations (Gentiles) fill us all with the Father’s glory.

A Fresh Outlook

The very first story I ever heard was that of Jesus inviting his disciples to come and have breakfast on the beach, by the Sea of Galilee, it went home in such a close way that I never forgot the fish count, 153. It went straight to my heart, my memory.

Over the last few months I have been listening to the gentlest whisper;

‘Come and have breakfast!’

And that, has been my spiritual experience, a quiet, leisurely breakfast with the Lord – precious.

Perhaps that is why, since no one else, wanted the job, I volunteered to come up with something for our baptistery/font for our recent flower festival. Now I’m not a flower arranger, I like to see my flowers growing, or else in a vase, so this is what I came up, I thoroughly enjoyed it, Working in the whole space, by myself, with sand, shells, pebbles, pot plants, net and silver fishes made by children’s hands, and you know every now and again, I am sure I heard the lap of water …. Here’s the finished,( not so masterly), masterpiece. It was good to be a little girl again!

Fishers of Men
Fishers of Men

My favourite story can be read in John chapter . I feel sure that this little bit of child’s play has given me a whole fresh outlook on life.

May you be blessed

First Snow

We had our first snowfall, of 2015, overnight. I took the picture in the churchyard this morning.

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A stroll around some of the paths told me that I wasn’t first visitor, Imprinted alongside the tracks of small birds and animals were human, wellie treads and dogs paws. No matter what the weather man and dog must keep to their schedules. And so must Mother Nature, I don’t know how long the snow will be around but I can say that in a very short while there will be a carpet of snowdrops to replace the snow-blanket.

I love little snowdrops (botanical name Galanthus Nivalis) but other names are Candlemas Bell, Our Lady’s Taper, Fair Maid of February, in France they say Perce-neige (snow piercer) and Eve’s Tears.

Eve’s Tears is a name with a story, but not a biblical one.
‘Long, long ago after Eve and her husband had been swept out of Eden, Eve sat crying, crying, crying. A kindly angel came to comfort her. Now, Eve hadn’t seen a single flower since the Fall and the snow had just kept falling, falling, falling. As he was speaking to her the angel caught a falling snowflake in his hand. Breathed on it and let it fall to earth as the first snowdrop. The story goes on to say that the humble snowdrop blossomed every February until the birth of the second Eve, the Virgin Mary and still does every Candlemas ( 2nd February) in her honour.’

Well, I’ll be looking out under the trees for the snowdrops, until then I’ll be following in the footprints of the Lord, in the snow:

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control (Galatians 5 v23) as best I can.

Wishing you all, rather belatedly, a very Happy New Year!

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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Arty Crafty

This week Church is playing host to an Art Exhibition, children and young people who live in Rowley were invited to draw, paint, sculpt anything to do with the people, wildlife, buildings, well anything Rowley the age groups begin with 5. Impressive that is one word heard quite a lot today.

The Dean of Birmingham Cathedral came along to open and judge today, and on the top of our windy hill, the winner from the youngest group was chosen as overall winner. Why? She reckons he was trying to show just how windy it is on the top of this hill.

The Dean’s thoughts in the visitors book are shown in the photo posted with the Gold Rosette winner. The pictures are on display until Friday and we are looking forward to children and parents over the next few days, it is good to make new friends.

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The floral arrangement standing in the entrance porch is Carole’s handiwork, Carole is Secretary to the Church Council and just, a little older but she loves to create lovely things.

“He paints the way side flower, he lights the evening star” these words from the favourite Harvest Hymn say something about God and his children, we love to paint the wayside flower, and if only it were possible, light the evening star too. Human beings reflect the joy of the Creator in their own creativity – my favourite writers on WordPress – are like the one, described in the Psalm, they have the tongue of a ready writer.

Everything Cries Glory

Tomorrow is Jim’s funeral. Jim was 76 and sadly has suffered with Parkinson’s’ Disease during his last few years. Jim was well liked, renowned for his witty spider poems especially the one about Dirty Harry who reputedly lives in the North Aisle if church, I say reputedly because in the many, solitary hours I’ve spent in church I have never been bothered once by Dirty Harry, who from time to time is credited with many dastardly acts, notably playing really loud notes, uninvited, on the organ, during the really quiet parts of the sermon. I wonder if Jim would have written a poem for our new organist and Music Director who takes up her post in two weeks time. Perhaps he would, Jim was always a gentle man with ladies. I found a copy of an old magazine, and you know what I got mentioned in a poem, as the one who never made a fuss in a crisis, apparently I just sang a little song.

And did I?

Yes. And I still do, but rarely in an audible voice these days, my songs seem to be heart songs unvoiced but always there. What kind of voice have I got? I’m a soprano, once quite happy to sing in choirs but now happy to sing my quiet songs. I have been reflecting on my little songs of yesteryear. It has been an eventful week since Jim died, someone had to oversee the earthy business of finding a space in the churchyard, someone has to sweep up the fallen leaves, someone has to be there for other bereaved families, making sure the church is warm, we have had other funerals to deal with this week, and someone has done these things gladly, singing a little song. I rather think it would amuse Jim to listen in on my little quiet song, but am not sure how he would write about it in a poem.

You see, my little song has a big theme. The words are coloured, red and gold, and I read and hear the music in the carpets of leaves swept up, in the gold embroidered words on the altar frontals, in the children’s smiles as they join in with the sweeping and collecting,

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Holy, Holy, Holy, is The Lord,
Who was, and is, and is to come.

Jim wasn’t always a member of this church, he was a lifelong Christian from a small church down the road, in what used to be known as the Village, they sing different hymns there, do things differently, yet, faith is the same, we serve the same Lord, read the same bible we share the same hope and love is the same colour thread wherever you find it woven into the fabric of this life. I am glad to have known Jim, I am sad that he has died, sad for his beloved wife but I am glad that in this life we both learned the words which angels sing; not everyone sings this new song, not everyone will ever want to learn it; but those who know and serve the Risen Saviour look at windy churchyards with different eyes, they see what was, and is, and is to come, they know that there are no little, sad songs in heaven, there

All cry glory!

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