Category: Picturing it

Snow Lady

20140728-073101-27061641.jpg

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?

A Giant Felled

Finally, fateful decision, made the Buddleia has been reduced to two heaps of branches and several large bags of green foliage; this was a giant of Buddleia kind, home to, possibly, several millions of butterfly, and moth caterpillars: I had known it since it was a twig, the decision was painful but necessary, during rainstorms a year it two back, it’s roots had slipped in the soft earth and it no longer grew upright but diagonally, a 14ft giant blocking the path and effectively cutting off the rest of the garden.

It took 3 of us 4 hours to commit this crime. I did feel a criminal the destroyer of worlds, but I notice my friends the Robins. Thrushes and Tits seem to have taken its passing remarkably well and I now have a sizeable piece of ground to plant again, this time with smaller plants. But all the same I miss it…

I have been musing that some church fellowships have their giants, like my beautiful Buddleia, we have known them since we or they were twigs: they have been so good, so great, how would we do or manage without them if suddenly, they aren’t with us anymore.

Might we not become aware of those smaller church members, we hardly noticed before, and find that they are just as kind, just as attractive. Because you know, I think the Heavenly Gardener hasn’t invested all his sweetness, grace and gifts in one or even a few of us,

But to each of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it”(Ephesians 4 v7)

Now a photo of 2 heaps of wood is hardly an encouraging sight, so I decided to use this one, the bees just love the Lupins and the birds like to feast on the seeds, to remind myself that The Lord’s sweetness is shared out .. Some to the small as well to the great.

20140616-233941-85181717.jpg

“Take my Rose, and not a thorn!”

Take my Rose and not a thorn!”

I was twenty when The Lord Jesus whispered those words to me; his Rose, I recall the picture as vividly as the words, was a deep, deep red. Although I could see no thorn, my cynical mind supposed there just had to be one. We are like that, aren’t we, the best, most beautiful things are just too good to be true.

There was and never has been, down through the years since, a thorn – not a single one. The Love of God has no thorns; we cannot say the same of our own love, either for God of each other. Human love needs the the work of the Heavenly Gardener.

I write this because as I read so many beautiful words from beautiful souls on the internet,I see that many often impale themselves on thorns that just aren’t there. What I mean is that looking inwardly they see and know many faults and because they cannot overcome them by self will or strength. They agonise, suffering pricks and scratches. One way out is to credit and blame others with our faults; if only so and so hadn’t, if only this or that hadn’t happened, then I wouldn’t be the person I see in the mirror.
The other is to believe that God can’t love us or forgive us, and so we hate ourself and absent ourselves from fellowship.

Please give it up!
Give all the agony, excuses and blame, give that person reflected in the mirror to The Lord Jesus. He will accept you, and receive your love as a precious rose. Yes, The Lord sees your faults, they are the thorns that scratch; he has given us the mirror of self reflection so that we might see them, but, if he had not given us the Light of life to see them by, we would not see them at all! No one sees anything in pitch darkness.

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1.7)

We are God’s children if we walk in the light, take his rose, his love, and not a thorn, Christ wore the thorny crown so we should not. Confess, say sorry, do these things, but don’t hide your cheek from his kiss of forgiveness and peace.

I use a pink rose here, because I could not find a red one. No matter, the best of all human love is pale in comparison with the Divine Love of God.

Please share your roses if you wish.

20140519-083406.jpg

Love Must Be Sincere/Mind The Light

I pass by them every time I walk up the hill, sometimes in the grey light of early morning, they are curled up in sleepy balls; sometimes the night dew has sprinkled them with crystals. But I can offer no painting by renowned artist, no poem, not even a good photograph (this one’s my own making). No florist is going to display these wayside flowers in the window, but these little flowers have a message and a lesson for me.

They are simple, sincere, honest, no pretence, no fussiness. They are beautiful because they are what they are. Once the sun is up and they are basking in the light they are wide open and what they reveal is their heart.

Often, people are not like that and neither is the love they seem to offer. Yes they put on a good show; over zealous with hugs and kisses and their love can be costly to them as they shower others with expensive gifts, promises and words… Yet there are those things which they never reveal to the light.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good” (Romans 12.9)
“Love must be without dissimulation.” (KJV)

To dissimulate, so the Oxford Dictionary says, is to hide or disguise our true feelings.

Sad isn’t it? That these are words written for the guidance of Christians, but necessarily so.

From time to time we all need to look inside and to our Teacher within us, and to set our minds on those things which are pure, they guide us to God; oh so very much we need to “Mind the light” to learn from the Light, learning from him; we will find ourselves growing in the light, learning to love aright; no need to hide or disguise our true feelings then.

Your opinion welcome!

20140510-195712.jpg

For You From The Garden

For You

Let the dreams that are gone, sleep fast my love,
And the tears and fears of yesterday’s storm,
For the darkness you saw is past, my love,
So smile and a new day is born.
The seasons of life will go on my love,
And the sails of your ship may be torn,
But the secrets beneath your feet my love,
Are the flowers that are yet to be born.
Let the tears that you shed fall sweet my love,
For the pain goes and rainbows come without warning.
All the seasons will surely return my love
And new life will be born in the dawning.
(Anon)

All is green, fresh, springing green, the gardens are reborn. I find that a walk in a garden brings vividly to mind the events of that first Easter morning, perhaps it took time for the shock of the events of the trial, crucifixion and appearance of the risen Jesus in the garden to wear off before his friends finally entered into Easter Joy; after all they had suffered an horrendous, cruel bereavement. The poem, I have been asked to read this one on a couple of occasions, brings the Easter Garden to mind for me, “secrets beneath our feet” … All those beautiful things shared with loved ones gone ahead into the next life before us, sown in trust they hold the promise of joy yet to be as did all the memories, and words of Jesus left in trust in the hearts of his disciples and friends, these secrets became the flowers and fruit of the Gospel which still growing, still springing fresh from the Word today.

The Easter Garden in the photograph was designed and made by my lovely friend Trish Cornford for the church porch this year I post it with the hope that the Easter Garden and the poem will bring comfort to anyone who is sorrowful at this time.

With blessings,
Jean

20140430-182033.jpg

Seeing Jesus

So, we are nearly there, Palm Sunday, Good Friday and then Easter Day.

I know that not all Christian Fellowships keep Lent or mark Easter in the way mine does but all of us will be remembering that it was for us that Christ suffered, died and rose again, John, the Guest Speaker at the Tuesday Ladies Class wanted to direct our thoughts to the prophetic picture of Christ drawn for us in two particular Psalms.

Psalm 22 and Psalm 40

Psalm 22 includes a note for the Musical Director, i.e. The psalm is sung to the tune of ‘The Doe of the Morning’ a lovely name for a tune, but the words describe graphically what David saw in spirit many, hundreds of years before Christ was born, we read the whole psalm through as the altars are stripped Maundy Thursday … Together we read,

“He trusts in The Lord,’ they say, ‘let him deliver him, since he delights in him” the very words which onlookers shouted scornfully at the foot of the cross. We read the heart aching cry, “But I am worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.” I say heart aching because they are to us the heart cry of the King of Glory.

Dare I ask you to read the whole Psalm through, reach for your favourite bible, read it out loud and let it speak to you of the things which our Saviour suffered. Then turn to a Psalm 40 and read particularly verse 7 and 8:

Then, I said, “Here I am, I have come – it is written about me on the scroll. “I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”

Seeing Jesus is not the same for everyone. The second person of the Trinity is portrayed in many, many ways by artists, sculptors and writers but Holy Spirit knew him, before all things were, and truly bore witness to his death and sufferings beforehand. John our speaker pointed out that it is easy to delight in God when all is well and life is easy but quite another thing to delight in God when to do his will means we suffer. I think if you have read to this point, you would say Amen to that, and yes we shrink back, and we find it difficult to see God at all in our testing times, perhaps it is good at such times to hear the words of Jesus himself,

By your endurance you will gain your souls” (Luke 21:19)

The picture we have been thinking about in church this week is another from Marc Chagall, this one hangs in the 3rd a Floor of the Modern Wing of Chicago Art institute and was painted in 1938. Here is another way of seeing Jesus, a Jewish Jesus, wearing a tallith (prayer shawl) instead of a loin cloth. There are many descriptive symbols in this painting, I leave you to ponder them, the figure in blue wears a placard stating, “Ich bin Jude” – I am a Jew.
This is a stark reminder of the cruel persecution of the Jewish people by Nazi Germany and others. What speaks to me is the white light thrown out by the dropped scroll of the Torah in the foreground, see how it travels up the ladder to the cross.

To see Jesus in every person is a very difficult thing, because first we need a pure heart, washed clean from all sin, bitterness, hatred, pride, greed these should have no place in hearts that belong to Christ, they are the things which make us blind and prevent us from seeing the Love Who is God.

20140409-225457.jpg

The White Crucifixion

(Marc Chagall, 1938)

Mary Magdalene’s Foot

20140404-211306.jpg

I didn’t take this picture, but I saw the foot whilst on holiday with my sister in Rome, 2004. I believe the reliquary is silver/gilt as to whether it actually does contain Mary Magdalene’s foot – I leave that to you. The inscription on the plaque intrigued me, “The First Foot to be entered in the Tomb of the Risen Christ” – we have two feet, who actually was there to record whether it was the right or left foot?

My favourite Gospel, St John (ch 20 v1-9) gives the honour of first footer to the apostle Peter, this Gospel doesn’t have an account of Mary going in at all but I rather feel she did. St Matthew 23: 6 says an angel invited the women to come, see the place where The Lord lay, he doesn’t say Mary was first though, St Mark says Mary entered the Tomb but in the company of Mary the mother of James and Salome and St Luke also says the ‘women’ went in, but not which was first.

I suppose it is universally true that to be the first is better than to be the second, and definitely better than being the last. But, is it?

Didn’t Jesus say something about the first being the last and the last the first?

On Maundy Thursday we will recall, once more that at the last meal which the Lord shared with his disciples he took a a towel, poured water into a basin and washed his disciples feet; the First became the Last and attended to the menial task of washing, dusty, hot and bothered feet. With all of what was about to happen to him weighing heavily on his mind, hammering with iron fist on his heart, The Lord Jesus was mindful that those feet needed washing, he sought the comfort of others first put himself last.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the foot which truly enters into the Tomb of the Risen Lord is the foot of the person who serves, and who truly understands that in Jesus to be first is rather unimportant, as Paul puts it, ‘And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” It doesn’t matter, right or left foot, right or left hand, we are all essential. The wonderful truth, Mary Magdalene knew for herself – she was important to Jesus simply because he loved her, he loved them all – he loves you, he loves me; there is no silver casket for our feet, there is a place for us in heaven, because His Foot entered in first!

20140404-221036.jpg

Just Ask…

Us people are a contrary, quarrelling people. We delight in complaining, grumbling and we all know our rights, some of us are very good at defending out ‘God given rights’ and if we feel that He has neglected us ….

This morning as soon as I awoke the picture of a great eagle came to mind, and the eagle was watching me, so I kept a careful eye on the eagle …

Nothing much is hidden from an eagle’s gaze and nothing much from the Lord’s either, perhaps that is why, knowing that The Lord knows what is going on with us and what we need before we ask, precisely, why we don’t ask.

The eagle, when seen in a church like ours is associated with the Gospel of John. John soars with the Holy Spirit and brings into sharp focus for us some startling truths for instance

‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you’. (John 15:7).

In John chapter 5, we hear him say to a not so-respectful Samaritan woman, ‘if you knew who it was, who is speaking to you, you would have ‘asked‘ and he would have given you living water’

Maybe, the Samaritan woman felt she was being regarded with eagle eyes, she didn’t deny having had 5 husbands, we aren’t actually told that she ever did ask for the living water, but I like to think she did.

The picture is Moses Striking the Rock and Bringing Forth the Water by Marc Chagall (1887-1985). It is in the Musee du Message Biblique Marc-Chagall, Nice, France.

It tells the story found in a Exodus 17: 1-7 when the people of Israel asked ‘is The Lord amongst us or not?’ At a time when water could not be found, they quarrelled, blaming Moses and God for their predicament; in earlier passages we read of the Lord’s promise to that His presence would go with them could it be, that they had forgotten this? Or could it be that they were just not inclined to ask? The stiff necks referred to so often by The Lord, were not due to being bowed overly much in prayer- quite the reverse-they were hardly ever found in that posture…

Me, I am asking for living water and rejoicing in The Lord who gives it so abundantly and freely, and keeping in my heart the water and the blood which flowed from Christ’s pierced side.

20140324-231757.jpg

Open The Box

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
Hope.

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!

20140320-204256.jpg