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Lamps for the Light of the World

Whitby Abbey
Yorkshire U.K.

When I first looked at this photograph, I wondered whether the sun was rising or setting? It looks like a great golden lantern, a light for our path,

Visit https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/whitby-abbey/history-and-stories/st-hild/ to find out more …

These ruins are an 11th century building on the foundations of St Hilds original double monastery, which was most likely several much smaller buildings of timber, wattle and straw. St Hild, known nowadays as St Hilda was a great niece of King Edwin of Northumbria and a key player in the history of the Church in England. She hosted the Great Synod of Whitby in 664 AD which meant the adoption of the Tradition of the Church of Rome and a movement away from Celtic Christianity as bought to our shores from Ireland. Hild herself, leaned more to the teaching of St Aidan than St Augustine.. but that is how the Synod went.

Today, when we think of monasteries, Monks and Nuns we possibly have very fixed views about them. But truth is, the lamp for our feet-the message of the Gospel was held carefully and bravely in their hands for many, many centuries they were the Evangelists and Missionaries of those centuries, they guarded the light, kept it burning through dark times, and were themselves on fire for the salvation of men, women and children

So what do I see when I look at the lamp in the photo.

I see in my Spirit, the faithfulness of Christ the Light of the world, the Everlasting Light, Hilds Abbey has long since gone, and the 11th Century Ruins are just that. But the same Sun still rises, still sets, and will go on doing that, long after you and I have folded up our mortal tent. Yet one day, science tells us that the Sun will be gone as well.

But not Christ our Sun and Lamp, He was the same yesterday, inspiring Aidan, Hild, Augustine, Martin Luther, Charles and John Wesley, Billy Graham and before all these, Peter, James, John… He went before Israel in the Wilderness, met with Abraham and Sarah. He is the same today, pouring out His Light and Spirit on me, on you and

He is the same tomorrow, when

“The city has no need for the Sun or the Moon to shine on it, because God’s Sh’khinah gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Revelation 21;23

Father who wakens us, calling us

And bringing us safely through darkest night

To fairest, brightest day,

Grant that we may be pure and holy, clean

And clear as crystal-glass letting your glory shine through,

We do not ask that we might be known, simply

That we may be the vessels your light shines through

As lamps to lighten the world.

Amen

Strawberries and the Kingdom

Notes and Prayers from life

Strawberry Nets (Eric Ravilious 1932)

Strawberries, delicious. Round, red and sweet. Very desirable to thieves

The bible mentions fruit and thieves in several places. Thieves not only steal, they damage and spoil.

“Catch the foxes for us,

Yes the little foxes!

They are ruining the vineyards

When our vineyards are in bloom”

The Bride – Song of Songs 2. 12

Foxes, even little ones are renowned for their artfulness and for the damage they wreak in the attempt to obtain what they want. In connection with red, ripe strawberries 🍓 the usual suspects are of the feathered and beaked kind.

Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed!

As he sowed, some seed fell alongside the path and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky patches where there was not much soil. It sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow; but when the sun…

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Advent: What is our’s to do’

Advent even in a traditional church like ours is not the season of empty waiting it was with no decorations to be seen. I saw a determined, resolute tweet from one church. “We will keep Advent and then the 12 Days of Christmas”

However, when hundreds of eager, bright eyed children arrive for their School Carol Concerts they do expect to see a Christmas Tree and even some of our regular Sunday worshippers will say that they don’t understand why clergy call Advent a solemn season when we are looking forward to the Happy Celebration of remembering the birth of Jesus.

Try, ever so patiently, ever so gently to explain that Advent also looks forward to Jesus coming again to judge the world, and you know, that you are fusing all their Christmas Tree lights….. you are the Grinch and most definitely stealing Christmas!

As a child, I was taught in Sunday School, that we should “keep short accounts with the Lord” that is when we know we are doing something wrong, or have done something wrong, we should stop, say sorry and ask the Lord to forgive us and that we could be sure that He will. If little children can understand this, why can’t adults understand Advent?


I have been reading that some farmers, in some parts of the U.K. will be looking to see if Winter Barley is germinating in their fields now, at this time, God has provided for us in such an abundant way that crops of some kind are always being sown, regardless of the season. Farmers have to be patient, persevering and tough to endure all kinds of weather conditions, heat, cold, flood, wind… they have to persist with ‘what is theirs’ to do’

Do we know ‘what is ours’ to do’?

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crops, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The judge is standing at the door!”

So, the Lord is!

Standing at the door, that is, and He is nearer and closer than we think.

Whatever our church tradition, personal thoughts or opinions about times or seasons; we need to watch our own field, watching over it to see what kind of crop we ourselves are producing.


Lord, I pray, that you would teach me, what is mine to do. Give me patience and a gentle spirit, grant that I may always seek first your Kingdom, your righteousness and submit to your will. Sometimes, my heart may feel you are dealing with me harshly ~ then my Father and God help me to recall that before the seed can be sown, first the ground, my heart, must be ploughed. Sun and rain you have promised and harvest in due season, just as you promised that Messiah would come, He has come, and just as He promised, He will come again. We do not know the time or the season but we know He will come again.


Scripture: James 5: 7-9 (N.I.V.)

Prayer and images my own.

Watch-word: ‘ Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. (Isaiah 55:6)

You Did Not Choose Me

Once, I asked, as a little child does,

“Lord? What is a saint.”

“God’s chosen heart.” He said, with gentle patience.


Yesterday, I was with my friends, the youngest is aged a little over 60 ~ the Ladies Fellowship meets every Tuesday afternoon to pray and read the Bible together, we had a twofold theme this week.

Bible Sunday\All Saints

In celebration of the Bible most bought with them a treasured bible from their earliest years, one bought her mother’s bible. The date her mother received the bible recorded inside the front cover, 1916. Glued firmly on the inside back cover a momento of a sailor whose ship was lost at the battle of Jutland –

Jack Cornwall joined the Navy in July 1915, with Britain was at war, and in 1916 became the youngest holder of the Victoria Cross at just 16 years old. The medal was awarded posthumously for remaining at his post at the forward 5.5 inch gun of the cruiser HMS Chester, see photo below

In fact the young man who appears in pictures of Jack is not Jack but his brother who stood in for him, the stamp posted in the Bible we saw was a coloured version of this one and was awarded for raising money for a memorial.

We were reminded of how valued, bibles were in those days of war, often bible societies produced small booklets of selected portions and these would be kept tucked inside a cap, where they could be more easily retrieved than rummaging through a kit bag.

Another lady bought a photograph of her mother taken on her mothers wedding day. Her daughter proudly and tearfully declared that her mother had been a saint, she told us of how her Mom, had devoted her life to the service of others. How she would spend whole nights keeping company elderly and sick people in their own homes, after tucking her 2 little girls up at her own home, how her mother had always been a listening ear, but never a revealer of secrets.

Two very different people. One a young man who joined the Navy aged 15, a brave young man, no more than a boy David, the shepherd boy was when fighting bear and lion in defence of his father’s sheep.

The other, a young mother and Salvation Army Officer, prepared to go an extra mile and gentle hand to anyone who needed it.


“A saint is God’s chosen heart” … not one of us has a perfect heart … not one of us chooses Him. He must choose us.All the courage we have, the kindness, the love our hearts hold, they come from Him. Not many of us will ever be Saints spelt with a big S, but all whom the Lord Jesus chooses to draw near to himself are called to be Saints.

How does God raise a saint?

With the milk of the word.

With the Bread of Life.

What does God ask us all to do for Him?

If you listen very carefully, you will hear His answer,

Come, Come to Me, Follow Me. I chose you out of the world, of all the pebbles on the beach I chose you. Don’t look back, walk with me, abide in Me.

“You did not choose Me. I chose you.”


A More Hopeful Forecast

October, rainy, and mild, this year will soon be over, and still the leaves cling to the trees, waiting, perhaps for windy November.

Or will it be windy November?

As the month began there were forecasts of snow in the last half of the month. Still no snow. I cannot say that I am sad about that. October seems far too early for snow to arrive; it would seem bizarre to have flurries of snow flakes before flurries of crunchy , red-gold leaves.

Weather forecasters do not always get it right.

The future, despite modern technology, weather satellites, and highly proficient interpreters of so much information the future remains un-known, hidden from our view by an impenetrable curtain.

A curtain which the most insistent hands cannot draw back, anymore than the reader of tea-leaves can.

I am glad of that.

There are some things it is better that we don’t know.

I promised to pray for a younger lady today.

We have not known each other very long, measured in proportion to the long year of my life, perhaps we could say from July to October. She is a quietly spoken, clever lady with whole sunny summers, golden autumns, white winters and green springs to look forward to, except that the gloomy weather forecaster has said she has a cancer.

So, I am praying that He who holds the future, yours’ – mine – hers’ will prove the forecasters wrong, and that behind the curtain many years of happy, fruitful life await.


I love the plants and pots that occupy my window sills, especially those plants that come as gifts. I find it very difficult to part with a single one, even despite the flowering period being over and gone, and little hope that they will flower again. The geranium in the photo was last year’s. For months it has just sat there, no foliage, green shoots. There have been those mornings when I have been tempted, strongly tempted to put it on the compost heap. Almost, but:

There is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again. And its shoots will not fail.”

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us”

Look, the geranium is flowering now.

I purpose not to accept every gloomy prediction, it is true. Prayer changes things.

Scriptures: Job 14.7, Romans 5.5

Lord, you teach us that hope abides for ever,

When faith is weak and can not grasp the shield or wield the Spirit’s sword,

When joy is restrained, the rainbow blotted out by the cloud:

Then let hope, send out strong shoots of prayer,

That faith may flower and bear perfect fruit,

Your love,

And our perfect healing

Amen.

Rainy Day Chickens

I looked and I saw?

Chickens out in the rain, puddles up to the knees, squawking as only very wet, miserable chickens can.

What?

Had they no sense?

Why didn’t they head for their nice cosy hen house?

Puzzled, I reached for trusty waterproof with a hood, someone needed to get those silly hens in, and if it had to be me, it had to be me.

At iiii shhh ooo. At iiii shhh ooo!

That’s when I realised I had flu, just as the hands of Jesus reached down to pick me up and tuck me under his arm.

“No not you. I want you for something else today”


Does this ring true to you? Are you the one who sees the plight of others first, before you see your own?

Well, I can only say on reflection the Lord sees and notices every single thing you do. He cares about the chickens out in the rain. Of course He does. He shakes his head in sympathy and understands each perplexed, ‘what do I do now, what’s the right way to go cluck.

After all, “the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost”

Most of us, at times feel lost. Even those who have been ‘found’ a long time .. we can feel we need to know the way to go next. Yes, we may well know every cobble in the farm road, every step to the hen house and barn. We may know, as wise-birds, exactly what to do when it rains on everyone’s parade.

But do we know our God cares about us?

Knows we are willing to be pushed to the limit for those rainy day chickens, and to shoo them into the warmth of a dry shelter, to wholesome food and drink.

Yes He does know these things and yet, there is still something, which we can’t put our finger on… the something else, that thing which He wants us to do for Him today.

That puzzling, something else – may be quite different to what we did yesterday – it may be the last thing we would ever choose for ourselves – the last thing we would want to do, or want to be.


We did not choose you Lord Christ;

But you chose us.

We cannot choose what we do,

If there is something else,

You would have us do-

We have to choose aright,

Go, Stay;

Do. Say;

As you would have it.

Lord, show us what you would have us do

To do for you, today and every day:

Give us each day our Daily Bread,

Fresh and new:

Let our food be to do God’s will,

Together with you,

Today,

Everyday,

Always

Amen


Reading: Luke 19:10

Prayer: my own

The picture described given on rainy Saturday 12th October

Hide and Seek

What are you seeking?

What am I seeking?

The one thing I ask of the LORD-

The thing that I seek most-

Is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,

Delighting in the LORD’s perfections

And meditating in his Temple.

For he will conceal me there when troubles come;

He will hide me in his sanctuary.

He will place me out of reach on a high rock.


When we are children we delight in playing hide and seek. I am not quite sure what I found most delightful hiding or seeking. As an adult I know as you know that we cannot hide from our gentle Lord and neither do we desire to. I read Psalm 139 and am thrilled to know that the Lord knows all about me.

I read of Hagar referring to the LORD by another name, “You are the God who sees me.” (Genesis 16: 13) .. what a wonderful thing that God should care for us and seek to rescue us from our troubles. Hagar was running away from her mistress Sarah who had mistreated her, but the LORD who knows the end from the beginning knew the blessings He and He alone, would give. In his tenderness our loving Farther had not forgotten Hagar.

Later on, Mary, mother of our Lord, said

Oh how my soul praises the Lord.

How my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour!

For He took notice of his lowly servant girl,

And from now on all generations will call me blessed.


Always it seems to me, God is the one seeking, and finding, he is the one who sees and notices where we are, the one who knows the messes and fixes we are in and reaches down to lift us up.

How sad that all are not seeking the LORD our God tonight. It is a dark night outside as I write, but not as dark as the thoughts and hearts of many, who have no wish to be found by him and no wish to find him.

The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts-

So that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand,

And they cannot turn to me and have me heal them”

John recalls those words from Isaiah to us in his Gospel (chapter 12) and Jesus shouts to the crowds in sadness,

When you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.”

Jesus opened many blind eyes, even the eyes of those born blind, but then as now, there are those who prefer the darkness of this sinful world to the Light of the world that shows the Way to eternal life.

How sad that there are those who shine as celebrities in this present dark world, how sad that there are those who have a reputation for having everything and even having all knowledge- who basking in the limelight, in actual fact have nothing at all. Because they have not sought God he has not noticed them.


All scriptures from NLT

Photo my own-the harbour, Brixham, Devon U.K.

The little girl and friends were looking for crabs and found them in plentiful supply.

Waiting

I wait quietly before God,

For my victory comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

My fortress where I will not be shaken.

On the quayside lobster pots stand, empty, waiting, how many times in life are we called to stand and wait. Psalm 62 is attributed to David, who in his life knew what it was to wait, learning patience, watchfulness as a shepherd, and as a fugitive, as a King in waiting, as a father anxious for a sick child, as a sinner for the mercy of God.


Saint Paul too, waited, once in Athens he waited for Silas and Timothy to join him; and as he waited was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw in the city; but Paul could not just stand, observe and wait. Not Paul.

He was there because some Jews (his own people) learning that Paul was teaching the word of God in Berea, went there and stirred up trouble (Acts 17: 10-13), and the believers acted at once, to send him on to the coast and away from trouble. Speaking in a vision to a believer in Damascus called Ananias, the Lord had said, at the beginning of the adventures of Saul, also called Paul, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there ask for a man from Tarsus called Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man called Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so that he can see again.”

“But Lord,’ exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorised by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls on your name.”

But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

We read in the pages of Acts just a few of those things which Saul, also called Paul, did indeed suffer, and willingly, for the sake of Jesus, Once called, Saul was a faithful instrument, true to the purpose of his calling. Alone in Athens, surrounded by pagan idols.. Paul simply could not wait, quietly. He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and god-fearing Gentiles and he spoke, daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.


What about us?

For my part, I see daily and am troubled by the “new” things which young people are taught and asked to accept, those new teachings and doctrines that we don’t find in the scriptures, the things which were never taught to us as children. Paul would have spoken of them as a new Gospel, which he had never received or taught. I am troubled because in so many ways – the Holy Spirit is not heard – He is speaking, but goes unheard.

I wonder just how long Paul would’ve waited before setting out to “reason” with the promoters of new and strange Gospels?


David who “waited quietly’ before the Lord was also David who fought the “Lord’s battles, Jesus man of prayer and gentleness, said this, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matt 10:34)

“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armour of God’s righteousness. For shoes put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery darts of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6: 14-17)


St Patrick’s Breastplate

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all who love me,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,

The strong Name of the Trinity;

By invocation of the same,

The Three in One and One in Three.

Of whom all nature hath creation;

Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:

Praise to the Lord of my salvation,

Salvation is of Christ the Lord. Amen.

All scriptures quoted are from NLT

Waking..

I open my eyes before it is light, but the darkness is not dark. Rather it shines.

Shines with a peace beyond telling: and the silence breathes – the unseen presence of my Friend God.

So, nothing disturbs,

Nothing frightens

God is all.

I am not saying I never have a bad dream. I do.

I am not saying that I never go to bed with a troubled mind. I do.

I am not saying that I never have anxious and stressed prayer times. I do.

I am saying that God comforts me in the darkest night, blackest days, gives rest and peace from wildest terrors. He gives peace and rest when it is needed most.

There are those times of loss, of grieving for loved ones lost to sight.

There are those times of being sorry for things done or left undone. There are those things said which ought not to have been said and those things which have been left unsaid which should have been said – for these things there is also a promise:

if we acknowledge our sins, He is trustworthy and upright, so that He will forgive our sins and so will cleanse us from all evil,”

Peter, fisherman turned big brother to all Christian folk, warns us to keep sober and alert, because our enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, He tells us to stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that throughout the world other brothers and sisters undergo the same kind of sufferings and trials… often if we are honest, we do not have the least clue what suffering and trials for sake of Jesus are…

It is in the shining dark and silence before the dawn that waking up in the presence of my Friend I come to realise that His suffering ones are His blessed ones, and if I would be any kind of friend to Him, I should remember them,

And the little children with no shoes, no home, no one to call mother or father, no friend, except one, my Friend God.

It is in the shining dark and singing silence I hear the sung prayers of those who grieving weeping and worship in the same moment

When you meet my Friend God in the shining darkness, and the singing silence and know His embrace of Peace.. who do you see, sharing these things with you?


A song to sing, which even though they may not know Christ as you do, all are happy to sing with you, recognising in this wonderful world, the Hands that made all things, cares for all living things and fills all things. His holy and sacred peace be yours and mine,

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 ever know

And I think to myself what a wonderful world

Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: George Weiss / Robert Thiele