Category: Picturing it

Firsts And A Thirst

Continuing from my last post, some firsts in my life and my thirst.

The First Card I received in the post was from my godmother a card for my 5th birthday and tucked inside, a pair of yellow butterfly hair-slides.

My First day in school was eagerly awaited. I woke my my mum at 5:00 am to ask if it was time to go yet, I didn’t want to be late.

My First time in Sunday School was the sunday following Easter Day, 1955. This was in the Tin Chapel – an Evangelical Church, a small prefabricated building with a corrugated iron roof. and, this was the day I watched my first cine film, there was no soundtrack, the story was narrated from a book by one of the teachers. That story was the account written in John 21, a story remembered never to be forgotten, although the teachers face has long vanished from view. I learned that morning that Jesus had died because he loved us, but now he was risen so that children like me could live forever,

Did I believe this?
Absolutely!

I knew, that morning that Jesus loved me and that I loved him.
The count of the fish in the net, 153, (verse 11) has never been forgotten.

I love this chapter in John.s Gospel. This story of the Risen Lord standing on the shore by the Sea of Galilee calling to 7 disappointed disciples out on the lake, after a whole night’s fishing they had caught nothing, the stranger on the shore directIng them where to cast the net to enclose those 153 fishes; yet what really enchanted me as that little girl then was n’t that great catch, no, it was Jesus cooking the breakfast!

I still am drawn like a magnet to those nail pierced hands cooking fish for his friends. When brothers or sister scraped hands or knees in a fall and showed them to big sister, I would flinch, somehow feel the hurt and instinctively do as Mum had taught us and ‘kiss things better.’ That Sunday morning I wanted to kiss the Saviours hands better.

Ah well!

That morning, I knew for the first time, that I had a thirst.

A thirst to know more of Jesus, a thirst, a child really can’t comprehend, a longing after God.

Always I have been one of those people who want to know, need to know; I have gone looking for answers in strange places, sometimes without being really sure what the questions were. Yes I have had lots of questions for God. Why he does, or has done this or that, why he has allowed such and such and most of all what did he mean, what does he mean? But for most of my questions these words from Julian of Norwich answer my questions for me:

“Love was his meaning.”

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How not to avoid Christ’s Call

‘Repent and believe the Gospel’ the New Testament tells us that right at the beginning of His Ministry Jesus went about Galilee declaring that the Kingdom of God was near and that all should repent and believe the Good News, and what staggering Good News it was and is that God has declared a universal amnesty and we are forgiven; the death of Jesus has cancelled out all our sins. Perhaps not such an easy thing to do 2000 years later, but here is a a story of a man determined to cheat on God’s grace received in words and pictures:-

A man considering himself to be an expert with a cricket bat (evasive and argumentative words) faces his opponent, the bowler (Christ) who bowls a slow ball (a word to bring repentance). The batsman hits the ball with all his strength. Up, up, (and the batsman believes, out well out of the fielders reach, out of the cricket ground (out of court), but the bowler (Christ, remember) leaps into the air and catches it. The man is caught OUT – but refuses to accept that. So, the bowler, bowls another ball, faster this time, and another, and another – the unsporting cheat is caught out and refuses to be OUT. Finally the last ball of the over and the bowler still high in the air with the ball safely in His hand throws the ball to the batsman who carried away with his cleverness at managing to cheat every ball (call to repentance) bowled leaps up, catches the ball himself and demolishes the wicket having thrown away his bat to make a two handed catch. The spectators are in uproar of laughing, and calling out “Cheat! Cheat! Out! Out! Out”

The Bowler tells the the Press, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness” (Job 5: 13)
The Batsman still in shock reads the Word on the ball at last and too late, ‘Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the LORD and turn away from evil” (Prov. 3: 7)

The one who calls us to repentance is Christ, who is also the umpire and Judge at the end of the day, His decision is final. The only fair way to respond to His call to repent is do just that! All our clever evasions and denials ultimately work against us.

I see the Bowler on His way to the Pavilion stop and walk over to a small child who has been sitting silently, watching His every move. The Bowler hands the child a new, shining cricket ball and with wonder the child reads the words “Follow me”

Speaking, the Bowler says “All desire to wield the bat and to stand defiantly at the wicket all day long, but you have my Word now, follow me, repent and believe the Gospel!”

With apologies to all who follow the game of cricket.

Remembrance Sunday and Why a Peace Ambassador Needs Armour

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh Month, a dry morning for the Act of Remembrance around the village War Memorial and this year more people than for several years past stood for the two minutes silence. The Last Post and Reveille played by the church trumpeter who is a General Practitioner, a Good Physician who treats cares for and hopefully cures our aches and pains. The Wreath of Red Poppies is laid, in a dignified manner by Jim, our elder statesman of more than eighty years; but not every one gathered this morning is old, not all have come to remember lives laid down in the service of freedom in the First or even the Second World War, some are much younger and prayers are offered for today’s Servicemen and women serving in Afghanistan, and elsewhere … so when will peace come to the world?

The service is over and inside our little church there are more children than usual, calling to one another, having a little run up and down the aisles whilst Mums and Dads are having coffee, at the back of Church in the room the Vicar has christened ‘Starbucks’ – an older lady is heard to ask; “Why don’t their parents bring them up better” an even older lady replies, “I just give thanks that there are children here and that they are well enough, and are able to play and run about.”

Now keeping order is the Church Wardens job and keeping the peace between children and children, and children and senior citizens requires a certain amount of wisdom and tact, and between adults even more wisdom and tact, and courage…. war and battlefields are not the only places where ambassadors are called for, and so it is in the whole of everyday life.

In days when church attendance is at a low ebb, and when the Name of The Lord Jesus is more likely to be blasphemed than honoured, (and, how very few people actually know what the word blasphemy means!) and when God seems to have shrunk to almost a ‘Father Christmas’ image, how quaint to be talking of Ambassadors for Christ but nevertheless, The Lord is still calling us to be Ambassadors; an envoy crossing a battlefield is in need of the protection of the armour described to us in the Letter to the Ephesians 6: 10-20 and of the prayers of other believers.

In the spring of last year, I was hurt terribly by a deliberate act on the part of someone else, I forgave yes, but ignored the wound, and put the event behind me…. so I thought, but on the eleventh of the eleventh last year, i woke and cried, and could not stop, I found that I was literally crying out to The Lord for the healing of a wound, I had ignored. No one cries to Him or carries a wound suffered in His Service forever and some tears bring healing.

The Spirit showed me, myself on the ground, weaponless, vulnerable, in the middle of a great battlefield and great carnage; I was down, yes! Vulnerable, yes! But not alone. For two angels stood guard over me, avoiding me the protection of the great shields they held, shielding me completely until I could gather enough strength to regain my feet and pass safely on my way, crossing over a little brook, the bank spread with fallen leaves on the other side? Ah well, enough to say there were no fallen leaves on the other side.

Ephesians; 6: v18. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request” — put on the armour of God, and pray, even for yourself that your own hurts and wounds may be healed and don’t be afraid. Remember the words of The Lord to Abraham in Genesis 15v1 “I am your shield, your very great reward.”

A Peace Ambassador needs Armour, remember this.

Empty pews and building bricks

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;
Through knowledge the rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

So says the writer of Proverbs (ch 24 v3,4. Proverbs is full of down to earth wisdom applicable to worldly life and also our spiritual life, and over the last few days, the two verses quoted above have been whispered afresh in my Spirit’s ear.

An empty church fills me with sadness, like an empty house an empty church cries out to be filled. This Sunday morning our little church was empty, well at least the pews were, if you have ever unlocked the door of an empty church and knelt down for a few moments, you will have been aware that you are not quite alone… A consecrated place is not an empty place,but all the same it is sad that more and more church buildings are not as full as they might be for the times of gathering, those times when God’s people meet together to celebrate His Presence in worship, in joy. Strangely, a church like ours can be full to capacity, standing room only for a funeral service, for a baptism service, but not on the Sabbath.

This Sunday, we were invited as a congregation to join the worship at a neighbouring Parish church, leaving our own church empty but even the church we visited had room and room to spare even with three congregations coming together. The church is becoming a lonely sparrow on a house top. During his sermon the Minister thanked the Lord for all His activities outside church walls, for God is still working through all kinds of individuals of all kinds of faith, even through those of no faith at all, but, all the same the sadness remains.

I sigh and see, once again, through the Spirit’s eye a new brick, this time a new brick dressed well with mortar, ready for laying in place, and hear a gentle whisper,

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down”

And I read the word inscribed on the brick, ‘Understanding’

I think that now, this time is not the time when God’s people should be tearing down but building, a time when we should be coming together not drifting away. And, my new brick, well, tomorrow I shall be opening the doors of the empty church to welcome a group of school children .. And I think once again of those chattering children who nearly a hundred years ago pulled out good bricks from the rubble of a burnt down church to rebuild the present one, and I am holding my breath…..

Lord by the wisdom you gave the church is built, by your understanding it is established, grant that by our knowledge of you, it’s rooms may be filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

FORGET ME NOT BLUE

I did the prayers this morning, that’s what folk call making the Prayers of Intercessions in our little church and the part which folk appreciate most about the intercessions? Why that would be the list of Names.. For a small church such as ours this is a long list; some of the Names have been there a long time, even, in a few instances, years. In addition to the carefully typed out Names there are more requests written up in the “Prayer Book” which sits on a small table just inside the porch door, ready for the use of visitors; and then there are the other Names, whispered in the Intercessors ear just as Worship begins…..

No one likes to be forgotten, no one likes to be ‘out of sight/out of mind’

I manage to catch Mrs W by the elbow to ask if her brother-in-law is making progress, now, following heart surgery. Before this, no one had known his Name so I had been simply praying for “Mrs W’s brother-in-law. Now, she tells me, his name is Jack, and yes, Jack is doing just fine. We exchange smiles, and unknown, unseen by her, I see and feel the tiny blue ribbon pinned to my collar.

“Forget me not blue” the invisible ribbon is the colour of tiny Forget Me Not flowers.

At home I muse on blue ribbons that say “Forget me not” and remember that the colour
blue was commanded by the Lord to be used in the making of the curtains for the Tabernacle and priestly garments, I remember the two onyx stones engraved with the names of the Sons of |srael which Aaron was to wear on his shoulders as their memorial before the LORD, so that the LORD might remember them….

Does the Lord forget?
Is the Lord absent minded?
I don’t think so.
But I am.

It’s me who needs the rainbow, the rainbow which when ever it appears in the skies, he will see and remember his everlasting covenant between himself and all living creatures. That is the Covenant I need to remember in these days, and to honour my part in keeping it with God and all living creatures; in these days of global climatic changes, surely I need to remember?

The colour blue reminds Israel, Christian and me that we are called to be, for the Lord, a kingdom of priests and a Holy Nation, to carry on our hearts and in our prayers all people, all living creatures.

The Lord says, that if our mother should or forget us, he will not… We are engraved on the palms of his hands…. I ought not forget….

The sign of the little blue ribbon was given so that I would remember both to pray, carrying the Names [on the list) to value them for what they are, precious to God. Pinned invisibly it is a whisper from another place, “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord” (Deuteronomy 6v12). I will not forget,

Is my heart like an Orange!

Sometimes, The Lord has to grab my attention, the sometimes, being, when I am up to my eyebrows in something else; and no matter how hard He is whispering, I don’t hear. Like Thursday. My mind was on keeping an appointment and Quiet Time was definitely finished for the morning, well as far as I was concerned it was,but plainly the Teacher had other thoughts. An orange, big round, juicy, sweet appeared on my mind’s T.V. screen and in glorious 3D.

The Lord had all my attention.

Cut in half this orange revealed itself to be good, sweet and wholesome, through and through.

Just as my heart should be.

But is it?

Do I harbour bitterness? Am I sometimes just a tiny bit sour?

I carried those questions with me for the rest of the day.

I also recalled my Teachers words,

‘A good tree cannot bear bad fruit

‘Each Tree is recognised by its fruit’

‘A goodman brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart’

‘The mouth speaks what the heart is full of’

Back in my childhood big oranges like the one pictured were pricy and my parents had four of us children and so consequently a big round Navel orange was a treat. One afternoon as we were carrying a precious orange each home, my sister dropped hers and unfortunately a large, unfriendly dog pounced on it and made off with it. He was too big to argue with. Sadly Rosie lost her orange. A share in someone else’s orange isn’t quite the same as your own.

Peter the fisherman warns us to ‘watch out’ because there is a devil about. (1Peter 5.8). It is so easy to let ourselves get a little careless when it comes to watching our heart, but we should; after all our heart is what we are offering to God.