All Good Things Are Worth Waiting For 

I love this window, the babe, the Redeemer reveals His Sacred Face.  I think of Mary and Joseph Waiting for Him, getting together the things a baby needs, watching and waiting.  Outside of Church and Lady Chapel the world rushes on and yet, there are some, mums and dads to be, maybe who are, even in the throes  of busyness ~ just waiting ~ whatever you are waiting for ~ we pray you are rewarded with joy. Posted with love from Rowley Church to all who will visit this coming Christmastide.

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Towards Christmas

St Giles Church, Rowley Regis circa 1840

My friend Ken, often says Rowley folk have been a little careless with their churches, because we have had 4 churches on the top of the hill since 1199, that’s a long time, since before Magna Carta was signed, there has been a church on the hill, and even before the church was built a churchyard. We are coming to the end of 2017, frosty nights and mornings begin to make their presence felt and the churchyard trees are almost stripped bare; the crab apples have disappeared into squirrel larders, or maybe visiting badgers have enjoyed midnight picnics.

It seems strange, looking at this old drawing, that once upon a time, there were no trees; and so few gravestones, back in those days, Rowley was a village with very few houses, the tall building on the right, we called the ‘Mansion House’ when I was growing up – it wasn’t demolished until the early 1970s – all things change. Time doesn’t stand still, but I would like to think that tomorrow’s children will still have trees, that blue-tits, robins, woodpeckers and a friendly owl will still be around, and that the present 4th Church will still be playing host for School Carol Services, that the great tenor bell cast in Tudor times will still be calling out welcome to visitors to the Christmas Midnight Service, and that loving hands will be making a Holly Crown for the Advent Candles.

Who knows what the years may bring? It’s December 1st  and Joyce Walker is taking a winter break, dreaming a dream, that our old churchyard, and long forgotten stories will spring to new life as The Living Churchyard Project unfolds – but first the Winter,  Carols, Christmas the Snow. 

Is this really Santa?  Maybe Larry Emms, St Giles neighbour and friend knows?

“Thank you Larry, Terry, and the, so very many, more Rowley friends who came to visit the Christmas Fayre in the Church Hall – you helped raise £1679 towards keeping the children warm as they visit church over Christmas.”  ~ from The Churchwardens, (Yvonne and Jean) and the Elves.

Called From Darkness to Light


“And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” 

First we have the dark of night, and then the light of day.

When we were wandering, lost souls, children who cowered in the dark ~ God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, that He might cast out all fear, To open the eyes of the blind.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen”

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to Him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”

It’s not by power, not by might, not by merit, but by the blood of the Lamb that mankind is bought through the darkness of Halloween to the light of the Kingdom’s Day. May my prayers and your prayers be counted worthy to be offered with much incense (Rev. 8:3) with the prayers of All the Saints on the golden altar before God’s throne. 

Until then, 

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen”

(Posted for All Saints Day 1st November)

Learning The Ropes

The ship is a Norwegian Training Vessel, berthed in the Orkneys, this summer. This is the way  of life, first Summer then Autumn and then the heavy, stormy seas of winter – when the discipline and training gained over many seasons stand us in good stead. As it is with sailors at sea so it is with Christian voyagers.

In Acts 27, we learn of a shipwreck in stormy seas, despite advice  from the Apostle Paul, the centurion in charge paid more attention to the pilot and the owner of the ship and the majority and set sail from “Fair Havens” taking a chance that they would reach “Phoenix” a harbour of  Crete, where they would spend the winter.   Now, when the gentle South Wind blew, they thought they had it made and weighing anchor they sailed along Crete close to the shore and then the tempestuous wind called Eurakylon bore down on them from the land….

“And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along….”  {Acts 27, 15}

I have always loved this story, yes the ship, it’s cargo are lost but by the grace of God, not a single life and the Gospel is proclaimed in  Malta. One thing I notice is that when Paul goes to the centurion a second time, as the sailors were about to escape in the ship’s boat, leaving everybody else to the mercies of the sea, this time, Paul’s warning was heard, and the ship’s boat cut away and the sailors, whose experience was necessary to save the lives of all, stayed on board.

It seems to me that a Christian’s. northeaster is the ferocious wind that hurls itself at us from the world, the majority opinions whose strength is manifestly greed, selfishness, blind ambition; the determination to get at all costs but first the gentle south wind blows, this is soft persuasion, gentle invitation,  even a plea, to “come and join us” …. a good sailor never sleeps on watch!

So how do we get wised up, where do we learn what we need to know to avoid getting caught up in the wind in the first place?

Paul, advises Timothy (1 Timothy 4:6) and we too should be good servants, trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine handed down to us.

Who handed it down to us?

The answer has to be those who came before us, who taught simply using words that everyone can understand, the ways and rules of right conduct, the things which the Lord teaches, even today, through the Spirit of Truth and Wisdom:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prob. 22:6)

Keep your ship afloat. Heed the advice and counsel, the words of your parents, teachers, pastors, the words of Holy Scripture and reach harbour safely.

As an apple tree

As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
(Song of Songs 2:2)

I didn’t choose my apple tree, He chose me.

I am firmly persuaded that; God’s love always takes the initiative that ours is always a response to His love.

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We love because He first loved us.” (1John 4:10)

I cannot refuse to return His love, anymore than I can refuse an apple from His basket.

“I do not ask you to think a great deal, but to love a great deal.” (Charles de Foucauld

Sometimes, recalling my girlhood days. I find myself singing,

He is not a disappointment!
Jesus is far more to me
Than in all my glowing day-dreams
I had fancied He could be;
And the more I get to know Him,
So the more I find Him true,
And the more I long that others,
Should be led to know Him too.

He is not a disappointment!
He is all in all to me-
Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer;
The unchanging Christ is He!
He has won my heart’s affections,
And He meets my every need;
He is not a disappointment,
For He satisfies indeed.
(Mary Warburton Booth)

The love of the young soul is wonderful it’s like the blossom of springtime, but the love that’s grown and matured, well that is the sweet fruit of the apple tree.

May God bless you and me under the apple tree.

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Tamed Garden versus Wild Wood

The garden has its seasons. Many autumns ago, the Briar Rose was planted. A bare root; so bare I wondered if it would survive the frosts, ice and snow of winter.

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But it did producing that first spring time its small white flowers and delicate perfume and then as summer progressed Rose Hips to provide food for my friends the birds and for me colour on a grey, wintry day, the stems of my Briar Rose stay vividly green throughout winter

So, with the garden of my soul, I want to choose well what I sow and plant, to ensure I produce good fruit in all seasons:

Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, kindness, goodness,
Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control
(Galatians 5:22 N.I.V)

But, you know what, as with my garden, the weeds and wild things get in, they blow in on the wind, under the fence, over the fence, by every means fair and foul, from the wild wood surrounding my soul garden, they leave me no choice, these things which I didn’t want but to set to with tools called watchfulness and prayer. Life in the wild wood called the world, is wild, rough, tough, dangerous and threatening to my soul’s garden, yet sometimes, just sometimes I feel sorry for the wild wood because it is in need of of the Forester’s care and attention and perhaps, just perhaps mine?

How can the wild wood, the wild things of our wonderful, exciting times be changed?

Saviour Christ,
In whose way of love
Lies the secret
Of all life,
And the hope of all people,
We pray for quiet courage to match
This hour.
We did not choose to be born
Or to
Live in such an age:
But let its problems challenge us,
It’s discoveries exhilarate us,
Its injustices anger us,
Its possibilities inspire us
And its vigour renew us
For your kingdom’s sake.
Amen

(Prayer from a prayer card created for the Lambeth Conference 1998)

And Jesus said:
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you”
(Luke 10:19)

The Thief Who Stole My Heart Away

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Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord?
And why did He use a kiss to show them
That’s not what a kiss is for?
Only a friend can betray a friend,
A stranger has nothing to gain,
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain.

And why did there have to be a
Thorny crown pressed upon His head?
It should have been a royal one,
Made of jewels and gold instead.
It had to be a crown of thorns
Because in this life that we live,
For all who would seek to love
A thorn is all this world has to give.

And why did it have to be
A heavy cross He was made to beat?
And why did they nail His feet and hands?
His love would have held Him there.
It was on a cross, for on a cross
A thief was supposed to pay,
And Jesus had come into this world
To steal every heart away.
Yes Jesus had come into this world
To steal every heart away.
(Michael Cord)

Jesus said,

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. I and my Father are one.”
(John14: 27-30)

So. I guess, this it is true,my Holy Thief and His Father had the job planned a long time.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love.”
(Ephesians 1: 3-4) ESV

Shared with in love and gratitude by a stolen, Holy artefact.

Early will I seek you

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O Lord,
Open our eyes to your Presence
Open our minds to your grace
Open our lips to your praises
Open our hearts to your love
Open our lives to your healing
And be found among us.
(David Adam)

Shared
Because it is lovely to know the Lord is there at our side, even before we open our eyes on a Monday morning, or any other day of the week, because every day we need His grace…

From my quiet corner to yours…peace.

The Ocean Less Explored

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You must go and find out.
You must go and discover whether there is anything
In that world for you.
Promise me that you will go.
(Andrew Harvey, A Journey in Ladakh

The name, ‘Tides and Tidings’ was born from the pages within a journal
Like so many, from the beginning of my adventure with God, I have kept a simple diary, keeping safe the many blessings, memories of things done and said together. Ah yes, a simple soul and the Lord
do and say things together. Like faithful marriage partners of many years we have been together a long, long, time the Lord and I. Looking back through the years, reading in my journals, I have at times been, to say the least, not the best of ‘partners’ often misunderstanding, often downright petulant and quarrelsome. Yet, my most patient of Teachers has persevered and perseveres, always giving, always loving, always waiting for me to catch up with Him. He leads, I follow.

‘Rule a wide margin’ He said.

And within that wide margin are recorded all the fresh new insights given, over the years, when praying … a wide margin, full of faithful, patient guidance, words of encouragement, love.

Years before the first issue of ‘Tides and Tidings’ I was pondering over these words, from Pilgrim and Dom Helder Camara

When your ship,
Being moored in harbour,
Gives the illusion of being a house,
When your ship begins to put down roots
In the stagnant water by the Quay,
Put out to sea!
Save your boat’s journeying soul
And your own pilgrim soul,
Cost what it may

And, I realised that I was called to sail the Ocean Less Explored, an Ocean known to many as prayer, I am still sailing, still discovering.

Did the Lord say, “Promise me you will go”

Well not quite, He said, “Promise me, we will go together.”

May the Lord bless all your ‘comings in and going out’