August and for the first time in over 18 months the Bells rang out to express their joy as weddings returned to Rowley. This is Bethany Johnson and her Benjamin Davies married on the 21st August. The photographs appear with permission
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right. I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
Familiar words from Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806-1861 and which seem appropriate for this post both for Beth and Ben and for the other 3 couples who married here in August.
Married on the 7th August …. Keith and Joanne Cutler
Married on the 14th August …. Gary and Zowie Cooper
Married on the 28th August …. James and Jodie Drew
Congratulations to you all may your years together be blessed, your joys many and your troubles few from all of the St Giles family with love and prayers.
One of the favourite posts on Tides and Tidings, still receiving many visits in a year is “Remembering Saint Mabel, well it just so happens that Beth was one of Mabel’s well loved girls.
So here hath been dawning Another blue day: Think, wilt thou let it Slip useless away? Out of eternity This new day is born; Into eternity, At night, will return.
2 Behold it aforetime No eye ever did: So soon it forever From all eyes is hid. Here hath been dawning Another blue day: Think, wilt thou let it Slip useless away? Amen.
Life today is very different from the 1800s when this poem/hymn was written by Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish Historian 1795-1881.
But the words came into my mind at first light . We sang this at Morning Assembly in Junior School.
Psalm 95, also known as the Venite used to be sung in St Giles at Morning Prayer, I miss those days too… the words most recalled from that Psalm are “Today, if only you would hear his voice. Do not harden your hearts…” As the Psalm says the people of God did testing (provoking) God’s anger with their constant grumbling and complaining.
Starting the day with a grumble, a moan or worse still the grumbles and moans of all our yesterdays… is so not good for our Soul… deadening to our mind… its like a dam blocking the stream and flow of the Lord’s mercy, grace peace and joy. The best medicine I can think for this comes, in the opening words of the same Psalm, 95 I am quoting this from the NIV
“Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving, and extol Him with music and song.”
St Giles looks forward to being blessed with the gift of singing eagerly once again… but in the meantime there is nothing to prevent any of us from beginning each day with God’s good medicine for our Soul… a song 🎵. One from all our yesterday’s is just fine but a new one, Today’s Song, even better.
With Christian Love to all who read this post from God’s People at St Giles, Rowley Regis.
We have passed Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, the altar colours changing to green … we have come to the green and growing season with many lessons to hear and receive from the Word of God, lessons to train us up, and make us thrive as we submit to the Heavenly Gardeners hands.
In a few short weeks we are hopeful that singing and worship will return to our church on the hill, and that we can really get going under the leadership of Reverend John, who has yet to meet all of his congregation, Ugh! Covid19 – we want to put you behind us, leave you behind in the past, and not look back.
Yet, how can we not look back?
There will be missing faces as we gather to worship. There are missing faces in families and homes out there in the larger community. We guess that there will be those who will want to gather together and remember those who have passed on ahead of us; and we will comfort one another entrusting loved ones, and ourselves to the Gardeners care,
On that first glad Easter Day, Mary Magdalene mistook the Lord Jesus for the Gardener. I smile, remembering that it was Jesus who promised He would prepare a place for us, so that where He, was we may be also, that is where the Father of Jesus, our Father, whom Jesus called the “Gardener” is.
The Rhododendron I photographed a few moments ago is in its 46th Year. It wasn’t even planted where it is blooming now. It was dug up at the end of January 40 years ago and planted out a few days later on a frosty February day. It survived. It was planted with a prayer. The “Gardener” heard. The Rhododendron survived and thrived.
That is a good memory. A story with a happy ending and an ongoing story, just as the ‘story of Christ, Mary Magdalene, Peter, James, John, and St Giles, Rowley Regis is an ongoing story. We must be ‘ongoing’ too, not looking backwards and over our shoulders with too much regret but to the future.
“Even though there are days I wish I could change some things, that happened in the past, there’s a reason the rear view mirror is so small and the windshield is so big; where you’re headed is so much more important than what you’ve left behind.”
Words found in a notebook dated 30th May 2019… unsure where they originated.
Words of Jesus.
“No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”
Like 9: 62
St Giles Church, is entering its green and growing season and our present building is just 2 years short of its 100 years birthday. Best feet forward.
Easter seems a very appropriate time to remember those we love but see no longer, when St Giles gathers for the first time in person without face masks and social distancing, when we are at last able to share coffee (or tea) and cake together this very special face will be missing.
Dennis was given the Title and Rank of Knight Commander of the Queen’s Coffee Cup by Reverend Ian Shelton with a suitable medal commissioned which Dennis wore with pride.
The Lord presented Dennis to his family and the Isle of Man on the 1st August 1937 and he left us in Rowley on the 24th October 2020 following a battle with Osphosogus Cancer – a battle which he fought well leaving us with an example of courage, and cheerful patience. Dennis always was a strong character, well able to stand, tall, and resolute in maintaining a just cause. The Pandemic did not allow for all those who would have wished it, to be present for the Funeral held at St Giles Church, Rowley Regis on 20th November 2020, but as many as could be safely accommodated with social distancing measures in place did so, the officiating Minister being the Revd. Barrie Roberts and a recording was made in order for Dennis family members on the Isle of Man to be present.
We have so many personal memories of kindness and support on very many occasions the late Knight Commander always reported for duty when a strong arm was needed, he had a way of leading from the front – he was in all truth a commanding personality and always spoke with authority! Miss you Den! Cannot imagine who else will manage the church kitchen with such aplomb! My Oxford English Dictionary tells me that aplomb comes from the French meaning ‘straight as a plumb line’ … this perfectly described this dear friend of Rowley Church. He will be sadly and sorely missed.
Top Row in Gallery: Dennis and Barbara’s Key Game at a Summer Fayre, Dennis trying on Bee Keepers Suit (St Michael’s School, the Flamingo Pose, and bottom row photos taken at home in the last few weeks of our friend’s rich life with Barbara and daughter Yvonne.
Dennis was so wonderfully supported at home in those last months by Barbara, (he told me many times, that he, the bold and strong could not have chosen a more supportive and caring wife and, that he hoped she would always be there to take care of him – she was] Yvonne and her husband Steve where never too far away night or day – his friends and church family are so grateful for that.
Well,yes! Jesus does wash the feet of every single follower. Washes our feet as many times as it takes. He forgives us as many times as it takes. As Jesus saw the Father doing so Jesus did. Jesus left everything… to have nothing. He came from the Father to occupy the lowest place.
So that we might know the Love of God and that our love might be made perfect.
Again, again and again. Hear the sounds of the blows rained down on Jesus that terrible day we call good Friday and bless the Lord for the love pouring from the heart of Jesus.
By those blows that made His tender flesh black and blue… we are made whole and washed yes washed not just our feet but every part as the blood flows from His wounded side.
In your relationships with one another have the same mind as Christ Jesus:
Who being in very nature God,
Did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
Rather, he made himself nothing
By taking the very nature of a servant, being found in human likeness.
And in being found in the appearance of a man,
He humbled Himself
By becoming obedient to death –
Even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place
And gave Him the Name that is above every name,
That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow,
In heaven and on earth and under the earth,
And every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
To the glory of God the Father.
For the times without number our sins have been forgiven
So let us forgive
For the times when Jesus has washed our feet
For the times when we have fallen and His hand has helped us up
For the times when we have not asked
You Father God nor our brother or sister for pardon
The times when Grace has been seen as a right or something we have earned or deserved
This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week when Church remembers the last week in the life of the Lord Jesus beginning with the happy procession into the city of Jerusalem with crowds of pilgrims laying down their cloaks and palm leaves for the King Messiah to ride over, with joyful cries of Hosanna to the Son of David all to end with His body laid in a tomb to await the coming of the third day and Resurrection.
This will be the second year without a Palm Procession, a second year without gathering in church or outside. All St Giles Services will be online, live streamed and recorded. I must be honest I feel sad about that but at the same time I am comforted by the Good Shepherd, who watches over us day and night. He does not leave His sheep alone, and there are I know more than a few of our congregation who live alone. Waking up, there is no friendly human voice, and laying a head on the pillow there is no good night kiss ~ except His. He is The Divine Shepherd who will never leave us to face troubles or worries alone; neither does He leave us when our eyes close in sleep, His the comforting arm when we toss in troubled sleep, and His the gentle breath that blows those dark cloudy dreams away. And these are the thoughts of a sheep for the Shepherd who gathered her to his bosom as a tiny lamb and still keeps her even in age.
Like the many millions in the world struggling with the effects of this pandemic I can say, and will say, the Divine Shepherd holds the future of His sheep in His hands and they are good hands, safe hands.
Why do I know this.
I know it because Jesus Christ laid down His life for the sheep. Because He knows me, and I know Him. I know that He is the gate that keeps sheep souls safe and one day will open to admit them to the good, fresh green pasture of Eternal Life.
What then is Covid19? Nothing can separate the Good Shepherd from His Sheep.
He tends His flock like a shepherd
He gathers the lambs in His arms
And carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:11 (N.I.V.)
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil.
For you are with me;
Your rod and staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 (N.I.V.)
Who called us and drew us into the fold and keeping of your Son Jesus
Give to us, your sheep, courage and comfort and a sure faith
A quiet trusting heart as we are gathered close enough to hear
The heartbeat of our Shepherd.
A prayer for all His Sheep from St Giles Intercessions Team
Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch.Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank.She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
This passage from the Old Testament is surely one of the most beloved of Bible stories we hear as a child. It was one of the passages set for reading this morning (Mothering Sunday) in Church – had we been able to meet together in person, I would have delighted to hear it once more. It is a very appropriate reading for Mothering Sunday – with baby Moses being watched over by the three mothers in his life.
The first, although not named in the passage here was Jochebed his true mother the wife of Amram, his father. In defiance of the order of Pharaoh, King of Egypt she took courage and hid him away for three months then unable to hide him longer at home made a basket of papyrus reeds and coated it with tar, placing it amongst the reeds of the River Nile.
Enter mother # 2. Moses older sister Miriam who hiding herself away at a distance stood heart in mouth to see what would happen to this precious, darling little brother. What Miriam could have done to ward of a crocodile? Makes us shudder to think – doesn’t it?
Then along comes mother #3, A Princess of Egypt with her attendants. And a heart filled with compassion and love…
I think Pharaoh’s daughter did recognize the likeness between big sister and Moses, that she did realise that the nurse Miriam bought along was his own mother… but as many thousands of women with a good, compassionate heart ❤ have asked since in many tragic circumstances what else could she do?
… By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born…
Hebrews 11:23 -29
Three women with the heart of a mother deserve their place in the Scriptures. By faith when he was grown up the little scrap of humanity placed in a basket amongst the bulrushes kept the First Passover and led Israel through the Red Sea on dry land. And the LORD spread out His covering wings to protect all in mercy and love.
Holy God take into the shelter of your covering wings
And all little children today, wherever they may be.
In your great, love and mercy enable them to do their part in building the Kingdom of Christ and carrying out your loving purposes in this world until it is filled with the Glory of God
So glad to be able to share some brief moments by courtesy of Zoom this morning before St Giles’ online service led by Reverend John Bridge with a short talk by Reverend Barrie Roberts on the Gospel Reading John 2. 13–22. Sitting at home, I find the lessons of the day from the Lectionary and read them, the scriptures always speak to me, louder than words, they are my delight the cherries 🍒 in my cake; rather as the psalmist writes in today’s psalm:-
Like millions of aching hearts I miss the meetings and the greetings, as the old hymn says, in the house of the Lord. But I remember the Sabbath day, nevertheless and observe Sundays as best I can; it’s rather like being in exile by the ‘rivers of Babylon to be honest.
“More to be desired are they than gold, even than much fine gold,
Sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb”
In today’s Gospel the Lord Jesus always zealous for the Lord’s house overthrew the money changers tables, drove out the sheep and the cattle the words of the prophet Isaiah written on His heart:-
…”for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” Thus says the Lord God, “who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.”
Isaiah 56: 7-8
Sitting at home, I do what I can to keep God’s scriptures close at hand and study to remember and keep His Commandments fixed in my heart. The Old Testament reading this morning was from Exodus 20.1-17