Knowing

Thank you dear friends, for your faithful comings to this blog, while I have been away, away in the sense of not writing, I wish I could say that I have been travelling to distant parts, but sadly that is not the case – the only journeys made have been to places just around the corner, yet, sometimes just around the corner is just the place we should be, and, after all Jesus did not travel very far either.

I have a new friend on Word Press who left a lovely comment about fancy altars, and she is quite right, our surroundings, and church trappings can be a distraction and draw our thoughts away from the One we visit church to worship. The Sacred Space that He would choose is our heart, the worship He prefers  our awed silence, following those special glimpses of Himself which he gives when we pray.

I hope that your Pentecost was special and holy to you, Pentecost Sunday in the U.K. was followed by a Bank Holiday on the Monday, and for once, I was un-busy and  found time to make a picture of my own, just coloured pencils, my watercolours, don’t get much of an airing nowadays – and yes, its a Mandala, nothing to do with Zen in this case, just me, musing on the dove pictured in a small round stained glass window. I expect you know that the large, round, Rose Windows in cathedrals and churches are in reality Christian Mandalas, cut a nice, big, round and juicy orange into two, and you find yourself with 2 Mandalas.

Now, I know that some of you are very deep thinkers and into all kinds of things, so if you think my mandala gives you an insight into my personality – you are welcome – and if you choose to comment – that is welcome too.

Knowledge, self knowledge is very important to a Christian, and to know another in a deep friendship – a sacred thing – the most sacred thing (at least to me) is God’s knowledge of us.

If I can share from a favourite Psalm.

“How precious to me are your thoughts, God” How vast is the sum of them! Were I too count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.” (Psalm 139; 17-18) (NIV) – Precious thought, even while we are sleeping, He is with us.First Light 001May you be blessed.

 

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Bad News?

I haven’t much time to post, but thank the Lord, I do feel fine, and my life is full of many good things and I am grateful for every new day, even ones like today when rushing too and fro, up and down the hill was too say the least a little tiring. The placard with today’s headlines from a local newspaper was just standing there, minding its own business, outside the little shop. I found it just invited comment

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Bad news?

I am afraid the real high cost of dying, is losing your life.

Good News!

Often overlooked, at this time of year when we are assailed on every side with costly, often unnecessary and unwanted luxury items, is this

ETERNAL life is a free gift.

Thanks be to God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

And love, peace, goodwill to all who are finding this present, earthly life difficult right now!

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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Sunday. A Kind Day

Psalm 133 (NLT)

How wonderful and pleasant it is
When brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
That was poured upon Aaron’s head,
That ran down his beard
And onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
That falls on the mountains of Zion,
And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing,
Even life everlasting.

I like how this translation of the scriptures uses harmony to translate the Hebrew word, other versions use ‘unity’ but there is something about harmony … Perhaps I am thinking of the rainbow where the colours of the spectrum evoke feelings of peace, there is no clashing in the rainbow band, no colour claims dominance .. There is no competition .. If one colour decided to go solo, then the rainbow would not be the rainbow.

I like the generosity this psalm brings to mind. The precious oil is not sprinkled on, a drop here and a drop there, but is poured out like a river, a deluge of grace.

He anoints my head with oil, my cup runneth over.’

Sunday is a day that overflows with kindness, kind words spoken, smiles exchanged, and brothers and sisters coming together to praise God in harmony, as we remember Jesus who was anointed with the Oil of Gladness for us, and was himself poured out, like fragrant oil on us …. not just on me … But on the whole rainbow.

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Should one of the rainbow colours go missing?
Well, surely the good Shepherd would go looking for it?

Prickly me

I read somewhere that 5 minutes just looking at an object such as a flower or even a single leaf was beneficial. So, I thought I would give it a try, and this little cacti garden in a pot was sitting right there.

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Yes it was intriguing, 3 different little cacti all with one thing in common -the prickles. If I had more than 5 minutes I would have been tempted to take a pencil and draw each one. A botanical illustrator spends a lot of time studying a subject carefully, measuring, making colour notes, thumb nail sketches … getting the hairs on the hairy one might present a prickly challenge, but I only gave it 5 minutes and at the end of my time, concluded that most people have prickles, we all need handling with care. Better still handling with prayer. I also concluding that I am fast becoming like the white haired one!

Oh dear! I need handling with prayer!

Poppies to say it all

Not really much to say. Today, with five friends opened the church, to let anyone who would come in, to say a prayer for Peace on earth, to reflect on the Great War, light a candle … Yes even in these days the lights are going out … Where is compassion, where is love, in these days of great knowledge, why is it so dark? It is not that God has turned His face away, but perhaps we don’t seek it. My friends where ever you are, I light a candle for you .. In your darkest night .. May there always be hope.

These flowers were placed on the steps to the lady chapel in honour of all who fell 1914-1918.

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“Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ”

(Book of Common Prayer)

Snow Lady

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I took this picture of Leucanthemum ‘Snow Lady‘ before planting her outside in the back garden, she is rather lovely, clean, white, bright, fresh as a daisy, but how will she fare now she’s outside; will she stay clean and white, will she survive! Greenfly, slugs, snails, wind, too much rain, too little rain, planting anything is an act of faith, and also of hope. Once upon a time ‘Snow Lady’ was no more than a grain of hope, a seed which a gardener took and sowed…

Three babies were bought to be baptised yesterday, clean, fresh as daisies; they were bought in faith, in hope with prayer to receive the sign of the cross, to be baptised. I know, not all Christian churches receive little ones like this, many parents desire to let their children make their own decision when old enough, yes, it is true, some will never get around to doing that; yes it’s equally true that not every parent or godparent is going to keep the promises made on a child’s behalf, it’s vexing and arguable, but, if these three little ones had been carried to Jesus, would He have turned them away with no blessing, no prayer?

When the first baby photos are taken we can’t see, we don’t see what will be, we don’t see how a child will turn out that is the truth, and it is also true that in creating human beings, although the Almighty had more than an idea of what would be, and how things would certainly turn out – He still did it anyway!

What do you think?
Is God the best example we have of sowing in faith and hope?
What does that say of the value, the promise the potential of all of us, what does it say about the Love of God for the whole of creation?

I leave these questions with you, as seeds for your thoughts or otherwise?