Category: Times and Seasons

Golden Glory/Autumn Rain

Autumn in the City (Birmingham U.K)

I love Autumn it’s colours, it’s smells, the air. The carpets of leaves under my feet which sometimes crunch as Corn Flakes do, I love Autumn’s Promise, “Look, I am just touching everything with sleep for a little while…. “Get ready for Spring and waking up”

I have always trusted God to keep His promises, especially the one that as long as Earth remains Springtime and Harvest won’t fail to show up on time. But that doesn’t mean to say, that I should be careless and disrespectful to Mother Earth, she is the home that God gave me … full of wonders that I will never see, full of creatures, great and small, bright, beautiful and trees that can count hundreds, some thousands even, of candles on their birthday cakes. No. I cannot be disrespectful to Mother Earth.

I have watched a cheeky little family of dunnocks splashing water over one another in the giant flower pot saucer I fill with clean water every day. I think to myself, “now they’re good baptists” I watch tiny squirrel kittens learning from their parents the art of nut storing and the frantic antics to find them again! I wonder at the smallness and fragility of the little nest I found amongst the Ash Branches, I wonder and I marvel…

This year, I have picked an old habit up again … every Autumn I would plant some new bulbs…. an act of faith, trust in the Lord that come Spring the little bulbs will poke their little heads from under their winter duvet, daffodils will begin work on their Easter Bonnets…

I cannot disrespect Mother Earth nor any of the things, times and seasons which God has ordained even rainy days bring with them news from heaven.


Today has been a day of rain. Not just a little rain. It’s ok for me I can just look out of the window and watch the rain and the people go by, although it is true not many walk nowadays, but some still do especially schooldays; when moms push buggies and prams with older children at their side or dawdling behind, then the pavement is empty again until the great turn around time, and back home walk.

Autumn rain

Look around
Look around, look around
Is there something I'm missing here?
Is there something I should know?

And just listen to the sound
All around there's people living their lives
People passing by
As I catch their eye

It doesn't matter where you're from
'Cause wherever you are from
You got a long walk home
You got a long walk on

And I've walked for many years
And I've never shed a tear
For a place called home
'Cause in this place I roam...

Everyone's the same
When you're walking in the autumn rain
Walking in the autumn rain

When you're walking from your past
You can never walk too fast
Think you got away at last
Think you got away at last

And we all have to live with our mistakes
But what would it take
To make things right
To feel good inside?

It doesn't matter what you've done
'Cause whatever you've done
Life has to go on
Life has to go on, yeah

And my conscience is always clear every time I am here
Because there is no blame
When you're walking
In the autumn rain
In the autumn rain

I don’t know if you know that song?

Do you remember walking to and from school.

I do. All of my life my feet and legs have been my way of getting there from child to adult and my experience of rain is sometimes it’s been a delight and others ~ cold, wet and miserable. Another thought is how we feel when walking in rain is not really governed by the feel of the cold rain on our skin; but how we are feeling on the inside. I can remember walking with others and sometimes yet feeling alone: sometimes walking alone but yet feeling carried along in a crowd.

One day, sooner than they think, the little children, their moms and dads might be asking themselves what it would take to make things right and to feel good inside, as I draw the curtains on rainy, dark evenings I say a prayer that sometime in the walk of life someone will take the time to share with them the trust and faith which we were taught as little children, tell them Jesus is just a prayer away and that our Father is holding out His hand with a longing to make things right and let them feel good on the inside. We don’t remain as children forever; there is nothing so sad, so forlorn as a grown up with a hurting, empty heart which doesn’t know the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit of God.

Lord, let the Autumn Rain bring your blessing

Let the Autumn Rain fall warm and with tenderness

Fill the heart of young ones, that they may never,

Walk alone in the Autumn Rain,

Nor miss the loveliness of Golden Glory

Amen

Always, Jean

Autumn Rain, lyrics by MATTHEW HARDWIDGE, PHELIM BYRNE [Universal Music Publishing Group

Fragments

He put it in my hand. A piece of broken pot, carefully shaped into a square. And on the tile it now was, the words, “I am broken” written

There are many who who are broken, some in the sense of financially broken, many have lost their livelihoods, some are heart- broken, grieving for loved ones, and some have come to know they are broken because of sin.

I didn’t know why this little token, was placed so gently on my palm. But I felt I must accept it, take it, turn it over, ponder it, keep it. This little fragment was important to the Lord, it was shown, given for a purpose.

When, the Word of God came, He came, He said to open the eyes of the blind, He came to heal and repair a broken world. To search for the lost, the fragmented, when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, Christ kept His promise and into that upper room the Holy Spirit blew…not a whispering breeze but a great, violent, noisy wind that swept the disciples out into the street and became a broom in their hands… a broom to sweep up and together the pots broken by its ferocity.

I write and speak so often of the gentleness of God, the whisper of the Spirit, the still, small voice. Yet, I know that still, gentle voice is the Voice that breaks twists great oak and strips the forests bare, yes the same Voice, the Lord Thunders over the mighty waters, shaking the desert… the Voice of the Lord breaks…..

The preaching of Peter and the Apostles on that Day of Pentecost was so powerful, breaking strong wills and stubborn hearts, casting down proud hearts and in their shattering the Church was born.

Before the world can be repaired, it needs to know it is broken.

Before the patient visits the physician He needs to realise He is sick.

The least welcome of all preaching is that which shows the world that it is sick, that it is broken and needs mending. Bringing conviction of that is the work of Holy Spirit preaching. It is also the Work of Christ and the Father… God does not thunder out of heaven with intention to destroy beyond all mending… He does it that we may know our brokenness and be put together again…. not as we were but better.

Pondering the fragment that had been given, observing that already it knew the hand of the Craftsman I knew that this would be fitted carefully into place:

Making of Icon
Saint Mary’s Church, Berlin

We are broken to be transformed together into the likeness of Jesus broken for us on the Cross of Calvary, in order that we might be perfectly whole, forgiven, repaired, better a New Creation.

Complete according to
An Icon from Saint Katherine’s Monastery, Sinai.

I don’t, usually write like this, but feel compelled to do so, as Pentecost approaches because on that day, when God bought the Church to birth, Peter preached, and pressed his case with many arguments and pleaded that those hearing would ‘save themselves from this perverse generation’ until about 3000 people were baptised and added to their number. Is our generation any better?

I think not. We just don’t fully realise that the world needs repairing, and making good. It is only when we know that we are broken that the Maker can begin to make the repair!

Lord, press into each palm the token

Of our brokenness, and of our

Need; to be restored, mended, fixed:

Made over; born over;

Into the likeness of Jesus, our Redeemer,

Messiah, your very likeness,

Then, we too, with all the angels of God

Shall cry “Glory”

Amen

Prayer: My own, Jean at Fresh Whispers

When

The Cloisters, Chester Cathedral

Well, the rain finally arrived, out came a rain coat to venture into my little Wilderness to feed the birds, and just to walk awhile, the birds watching from the shelter of the trees, watching, waiting. When would I disappear into the kitchen and leave them to their dining?

When? Is the big question in the U.K. When will people be able to get back to jobs in offices, restaurants, when will hair dressers be opening up to cut our lockdown hair problems down to size?

My own hair is quite long now but not as long as it was. Yesterday morning, I took hair dressing scissors and matters into my own hands; gathered it up into a ponytail and cut off two inches. This took all of 30 seconds and a lot of courage. Actually, combed out it looks good and it feels good!

“That feels good, Lord,” I murmured ~ and why not our Father knows our thoughts anyway. “I’ve pruned it. It will grow again but without the dead and split ends.”

Our Father, of course made no reply. After all He is the True Gardener and expertly, keeps the branches in the Vine in good trim, removing the old growth so they will produce new, more vigorous growth, more, good fruit.

Stay united with me, as I will with you – for just as the branch can’t put forth fruit by itself apart from the vine – so you can’t bear fruit apart from me.

John 15.4 CJB

Another scripture tells us that Our Father corrects every child of his, and that if He doesn’t then we are none of His. We cannot keep our old, childish habits and grow into mature Christians, growing in Jesus means we must accept correction and that is pruning.

As small children our youngest brother would happily forgo washing, if he could. But keen sighted mom would take firm hold of him and the soap! “No child of mine goes out looking like that”

Oh no. No. Mom not the soap”

We would just smile at each other. He was, a handsome little lad really, when washed and his blonde hair neatly combed.

Everything takes time. It takes time for hair to grow. Time for mucky little lads to grow into smart young men. It takes time for a Vine to produce fruit. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a season and a right time for every intention under heaven.

For some of the Father’s children, isolation and lockdown are, I am sure proving to be a season of correction and pruning, as in solitude and silence the Father’s heart and our heart have met together. And what a wonderful, beautiful, holy time this can be… as we have clung tightly to the Christ the Vine “stay united with me” He says, “As I will with you

At the time of writing I cannot say when I shall be at liberty to come and go, as I choose again, I can say that I love, more and more, to be with the Gardener and His Son, with freshly opened eyes.

Lord be with us, especially those who are shut in and live alone, you have called us to take off our shoes and be content to stay awhile. Nothing can happen to us, or with us, that you do not know already. You hide us in your secret place whilst the world passes by. Speak to us now, and let us hear, so that in the proper season we may bear much fruit that will be delightful to your taste. This we ask in the Name of Jesus who is one with you in us, shares The Gardener’s pruning with us. Amen

When the world is Coronavirus free, my friend has promised a visit to Chester Cathedral, where I like to walk in the Cloisters, and a cream tea.

AIM and Birthday Flowers

I found the flowers on my return from Grocery shopping, they didn’t much look like flowers at all, packed in a long flat box and posted through the letter box, they stood slightly, upended against the wall. Carefully I removed the tightly closed buds, placed them in a vase and waited….

All good things, are worth waiting for, so the saying goes.

Watching, as these pretty flowers unpacked themselves from tight buds has been in itself a pleasure; and watching as the promises of God enfold in my life another, better one.

My friend Vera says, every time she takes my hand to offer the peace, “God bless you, Jean.” And then, she adds, very quickly, “Go on. Say it”

I reply, “He does, I let Him!”

She laughs, content, “I love to hear you say that.”

It is true. I love to be still, and feel that I am just like a peach ripening on the wall, warmed in the sunshine of His smile.

Truth is, I am not able to be still as much as I would like to be. But stillness is not always a physical stillness. There is that special stillness of just being stayed, carried on the Lord’s arm in busyness, in the certainty that whatever happens, however things are unfolding, or running He will get us there. He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.

While it was still dark, before my birthday dawned I had a word-gifted, from heaven just a single bud. That Word was AIM, I intend to carry it with me this year, together with this words from Paul,

“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

“To win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.”


Scriptures: Phil. 3. 12-14 (N.I.V.)

Image: My own


I praise God for the gift of years, 71 of them and although like the peach I have known rain as well as sunshine, winter as well as summer, they have been blessed; may yours be also.


By Day, By Night, In Sunshine, In Shadow.

Church stands on the brow of a very high hill, one of the outside walls carry’s the ‘benchmark’ etched in by the stone mason builders, it shows the height above sea-level, the surveyors witness that this is the highest point for miles, and miles, and miles. Because it is so high sunlight streams through the windows to paint the walls in all the colours of the day, different hours of the day,and seasonal changes mean a change of dress, and fresh new colours.

So it is with life, as our years and seasons change, so do the dress and colours of our soul. The most vivid and glowing hues belong to our autumnal years, and so also, for most of us, the best of our spiritual fruits…. love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self control are all best when ripened and mature….

This photo was taken at almost midday at the end of June, no one else in church, just me and God and His friendly angels, who were busy with worshipful brushes dipped into the palette of sunlight.

A few more weeks, and then comes Autumn and Harvest.

Do you not have a saying: ‘Four months and then the harvest? Well, I tell you, look around you, look at the fields; already they are white, ready for harvest! Already the reaper is being paid his wages, already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life, so that sower and reaper can rejoice together.”

The Lord Jesus said this, after his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well resulting in her going to bring along others from the town to hear Him speak and to believe and trust in His words. To believe, trust and keep His words is to have the Light of the World, just as a lamp is most welcome when the shadows of a winters evening cover the high windows, like shutters, we need a lamp to find our steps in the dark.

I have come into church in darkness, on several occasions, I remember most vividly, years past, entering through the south door at 11:30pm on Easter Saturdays, the church in darkness, holding her breath, waiting. I recall the warm fragrance of the flowers and beeswax candles, the gentle tinkle of water, from the fountain in the Easter Garden, I do not remember being afraid, then as on other occasions I have been most aware of being wrapped around, embraced, with the arm of the Good Shepherd supporting me.

With the psalmist, I will say,

Let the darkness cover me; and the night wrap itself around me, even darkness to you is not dark, and night is as clear as the day.’

The words on the bookmark:The dawn is not distant, nor is the night starless; love is eternal. (H W Longfellow)

Scriptures from NJB. Galatians 5. 22-23, John 4. 35-36, Psalm 139. 11-12

A prayer at the end of the day: Bless us and keep us through the hours of darkness, bless all those we love, and all whom we find it hard to love. Be near to all who are in trouble or sorrow tonight, and with all who must pass through the river to be with you, grant them safe passage and glad homecoming in the dawn of Heaven’s new day.

By the Way of Easter…the Cross Roads of Life

“We are not just human beings but human becomings… For us to be is to have a lifetime, a development… our lifetime is a life story.”#1

“When we seek what is truly good, then we are seeking God who is the source of all good”#2

We come, by way of Easter to the Cross, which is for all of us the Cross Roads of life, we come together with Christ, the Living Way …. there are many junctions, joining points from the world and all are called repentance …. but those who truly come to Christ …. never seek to leave the Living Way, nor to turn back even though that way (the past) seems easier, since it is a gentle descent and the way straight ahead (to the New Jerusalem) is a steep uphill climb.

Soon after joining the Way we come to Pentecost, and just in case, we are thinking of taking the next Junction off, the Wind is at our back and sweeps us forward, upward, Pentecost is where the Holy Spirit joins us, just as Christ said, He would …

And then we come to Trinity Sunday, and then we find, that God, The Father whom we seek is not so very far from us at all, that He is truly in Christ as Christ is in Him that Christ is in us and the Father in Christ.. that is the revelation of the Holy Spirit … and why none of us should treat His presence with us lightly, the Way continues upwards but we do not walk it alone…


“Nothing is so distant that love cannot reach it”#a

#1 Herbert McCabe O.P – God Still Matters (Continuum 2002)

#2 Jean Marie Dwyer O.P,

#a Sonnleithner


And look I am with you always; yes to the end of time”

(Matthew 28: 20)

A Friend is one who knows you as you are

You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the master’s business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father. You did not choose me, no I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. My command to you is to love one another” (John 15.14-17)

The bookmark reads;

“A friend is one who knows you as you are, understands where you’ve been. Accepts who you’ve become, and still gently invites you to grow.”

The friend who gave it to me, many years ago, has long been called home to be with her friend Jesus… but I keep the little card… not to remind me of Frances… friends are never forgotten… but to remind me of some of the qualities of the friend I should be.

Just such a friend is the Lord Jesús, he knows exactly who we are, the hidden person of our heart is not hidden from our God, he knows exactly where we have been, understands the ways we trod before we knew the Way, accepts fully the person we have become, he knows the son or daughter tugging on his sleeve and heart strings and yes, he still invites us to grow.

He was just such a friend to Peter, James and John, to Andrew, lovely Andrew with the happy knack of bringing him others to befriend.

Oh such a friend, who said, pitying the sorrows of his friends, “I shall not leave you orphans; I shall come to you.”

Soon, very soon, their friend and Saviour would suffer a degrading, humiliating, horrific death, soon he would be wrapped in grave cloths, and sealed in the dark prison of the tomb.

And then they saw him again, but could not keep him; they watched as he was taken up into heaven, hidden from their sight… and then, then came

Pentecost!

May the blessings of the Spirit of Joy, be with us all, and lead us in the dance of the Fisher men and friends. Never to be parted!

Absorbeat

May the power of your love, Lord Christ,

Fiery and sweet as honey,

So absorb our hearts

As to withdraw them from all that is under heaven.

Grant that we may be ready

To die for love of your love,

As you died for love of our love. Amen

Lent is late arriving this year, so by the time Easter arrives there will be no daffodils to adorn the church window sills, and the crocus which reminds me of the purple Lenten Frontals will soon have tucked itself out of sight until next spring.

Our old churchyard is decked out with crocus, daffodils, snowdrops right now, but the Bluebells are heads up, and the dark green shoots of wild garlic can be scented right now, although their buds cannot be seen just yet. I guess that by Easter the Eastern side of the churchyard will be a blue and white carpet, Bluebells and Garlic intermingling beneath the trees.


There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under the heaven’

Sitting at a craft table, painting small stones with the mums of the youngsters who were happily riding toy cars up and down the length of our Church Hall, I was asked,

“What are you giving up for Lent?”

Without waiting for a reply, my questioner, told me she was giving up chocolate. Hardly original, but then, most people who have no Church background have a vague sort of idea that giving up chocolate for Lent is what is done in Lent, and indeed, what Lent is all about. I tried to explain a little of what Lent was, and she was astonished to learn that pancakes on Pancake day were a tradition from early times to use up eggs and fat, etc. Soon three or four were chattering away, genuinely surprised that there was so much more than chocolate involved, and so much more to this mysterious Lent, than they had heard about.

“You know, I love just sitting still and being creative like this. I loved being away from home with my husband last weekend. We don’t get to see each other, and talk together that much, it’s all work, we work different times; and it’s all mobile phones and stuff that takes up all your time before you know it, you only intend to spend ten minutes on Facebook and next thing you know, a couple of hours have gone…” the first Mum said, then another joined in with a similar observation, life is too full, to busy, to chaotic and frantic. Where could God possibly get a word in edgeways, where was there time?

I wonder what Saint Francis, would make of chocolate, mobile phones, and Facebook and how would he explain Lent and Easter in days such as these?

How do we persuade people to pick up a Bible, let alone a prayer book? How do we even begin prayer conversations, when there is just no time?

“I need your tongue” Jesus once said to me.

My tongue, your tongue may be just what the Lord needs to get a word in edgeways,

And one thing more. The Lord Jesus needs our love, that His love working through us, speaking louder than words, may invite young and old, men and women, poor and rich, simple and wise to sit down in His shade, to come to His table and taste the Bread of Life. Come, taste and see how good the Lord is.

It is not so much what we give up for Lent but what we take up. All are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb: He needs many to deliver the invitations.

Lent is not a time for keeping silence.

Lent is a time for speaking.

Lent is a time for both sowing and reaping, Jesus says,

Well, I tell you, look around you, look at the fields; already they are white,ready for harvest! Already the reaper is being paid his wages, already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life, so that sower and reaper can rejoice together.”

Whatever you give up or take up this Lent, I pray that you also will know the power of His love, fiery and sweeter than honey. Amen.

Absorbeat is a prayer attributed to St Francis of Assisi .(c. 1181=1226)

Scriptures; Ecclesiastes chapter 3, John 4. 35,36

I used New Jerusalem Bible

A little lighter

When a child, we waited for the lamp lighter to come and light the gas street lamp. It was very dark down our lane, the houses pre-dated Queen Victoria and electricity didn’t arrive to the street lamps until the late 1950s-1960s.

It took time for one man to get all the lamps lit, so the fortunate ones had their lamps shining before the Sun finally said good night to us, and some found that the night fell too soon and darkness overtook them.

The street lamps meant older children could carry on playing after school games in the safety of the pool of light cast by the lamp and that grown ups could navigate the narrow entries between the houses safely, often by torchlight even then.

Praise God for light, starlight, sunlight, moonlight. For the security which light gives, for the power of light drawing up sleeping seeds, bulbs, plants into springtime growth, for its warmth: for the fact that light is. Often I look out of my bedroom window and gaze at the rosy colours of dawn, the sun climbing clear of the horizon and whisper, “Look at that, Lord” and I catch the suggestion of a Divine Smile, as the Lord looks with me.


In the beginning God created heaven and earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, with a divine wind sweeping over the waters.

And God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness. God called light ‘day’ and darkness He called ‘night’ (Genesis 1. 1-5)


Without light the world could not be.

Without Jesus, the Word of God, the world could not be.


In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning, Through Him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through Him. What has come into being in Him was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it. (John 1. 1-5)


My birthday has come and gone; the house where I was born, is gone, the lanes and fields swallowed by housing estates, the sky larks, owls have moved out long ago: one thing remains the same yet more wonderful and becoming more wonderful, and sweeter, moment by moment, the Friendship of God. God, who created all things who stoops and asks for the love of a child.

What a wonderful world

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world

Songwriters: George Weiss / Robert Thiele

Listen to what our friend Jesus says,

I am the light of the world;

Anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the light of life.”

(John 8.12)

There are so many things I will never know, but this I do know the friendship and light of life which God has given in our Lord Jesus Christ and the soft beat of the Dove’s wings as she broods over sparkling, water, clear as crystal.

With God every day is Springtime

The days lengthen and winter must give way to spring.

My 70th Birthday was celebrated quietly on the 31st January, but born in the very closing moments of the last day, I could easily have been February’s child. I have enjoyed 70 years living in this beautiful world, blessed every moment, even the sad, and fearful times I have known my Father’s love, and the love of many. Oh yes there have been quarrelsome times, and hard times, but I have been loved, known and blessed, proving that ‘all things do indeed work together for good for those who love God and strangely that life is just beginning!

Did you not know? Had you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, He created the remotest parts of the earth. He does not grow tired or weary, His understanding is beyond fathoming.

He gives strength to the weary, He strengthens the powerless. Youths grow tired and weary, the young stumble and fall, but those who hope in Yahweh will regain their strength, they will sprout wings like eagles, though they run, they will not grow weary, though they walk they will never tire.

Isaiah 40. 28-31


At Cana’s wedding feast, the steward calls the bridegroom, and comments, “Everyone serves good wine first and the worse wine when the guests are well wined; but you have kept the best wine till now” ~ and this truly is how I feel, I cannot imagine living a life without the ‘wine of my soul’ ~ without the honey ~ without the sweetness ~ without the Bread of Life, broken fresh for me every day. I pray that your water sparkles ruby red, as the Saviour shares your own daily feast of joy with Him.


An Everyday Prayer

Lord, in all I do today,

Remind me that there’s just one way to do things that I do best,

To put my mind and heart at rest, and that’s to put in Your great hands, my life, that you alone have planned

And when I feel restless,

Lord, teach me to sit quietly at your feet and learn from You. Like Martha, Lord I often become so obsessed with what You would have me do that I forget You care more about what I am to be…

Help me to remember the most important thing I can do is to be Your child… (B.J.Hoff)

Scriptures from N.J.B

With love and blessings.