The Flowers have been absent from Church since the 26th February, which was Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. Normally they would have returned with joyous fervour to greet Easter Day, but 2020 has been like no other year in the history of our little Church.
The year of the Coronavirus Pandemic left churches alone and empty through Lent, Easter and June. Our yearly flower festival didn’t happen like so many other things. Yet the Lord has faithfully sent the Spring Flowers, the Trees have blossomed and in our hearts we have heard, at the dawning of each new day, His invitation to come, see,
“See! The winter is past,
The rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
Song of Songs 2: 11, 12 (N. I. V.)
Well, our Sunday voices are silent as yet, but, our hearts are not and, you can be sure many a melody is raised within them and that their hymns are being heard in heaven. Meantime the flowers are back, arranged with care and love by St Giles flower ladies, Vera and Carole.
The Flowers sing their own song, they have their own colourful tones and voices, and these are perfectly in tune. Each petal, each leaf a ringing chord of love in praise of their maker.
“Lord we lift our hearts and songs to you at all times, in all places it is right that we should praise You, who loving us so dearly sent Your only Beloved Son so that all might have Eternal life. Accept our praise and thanks for the loveliness of flowers 💐 and all of your creation
Today some of St Giles family attended a short service in church for the first time since closure under Pandemic Measures. It was a strange experience with no hymns sung, and a wave replacing a handshake, hug or kiss at the Peace. But it was good. Very good to see much loved faces finally. Not virtually but in real life time.
So much was said in that wave! So much expressed in carefully, socially distanced conversations out in the open air afterwards…. Just a precious few minutes. The first photo is St Giles, it was taken on a sunny, I think spring day. St Giles is not a rich church, Rowley folk have never been rich. The rebuilders in the early 1920s. Following the Great War would have been hard pressed to feed their families, let alone raise money to rebuild a burnt out shell, but the miracle is they did! Inspired by the Revd. Cheverton, they rolled up sleeves and set to work
Our new Vicar, Revd John Bridge met, at a distance some of his new congregation for the first time this morning. There were no fanfares blown at his induction…our lovely plans all shelved by Coronovirus… the documents were signed in front of a video camera with carefully chosen prayers and words from Arch Deacon Jenny Tomlinson, witnessed by Parish Representatives Yvonne Owen and Ken Hadley online at home.
Such an inauspicious beginning to a ministry?
But was it?
Witnessing happy people arriving this morning and the sheer determination on the part of many just to be there and just to get started again I am minded that the Rowley Spirit is engaging with the Holy Spirit in a new, fresh way. At the moment it feels like we are one with our great grandfather’s and mothers, every bit determined to pick out the best bricks, the children of the 1920s actually did this, out of the rubble, and begin again.
But, oh I did miss the singing.
This painting depicts a Baptist Chapel at Capel-y-ffin, Powys, Wales. Where I imagine no singing in church quite an unheard of thing. But it is the melody that’s ringing in our hearts that is the most important thing
In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody with heaven’s harmony:
In my heart there rings a melody:
There rings a melody of love.
Ellen M Roth (Redemption Hymnal?
One day Coronovirus will be consigned to history but we are told and it is our faith, that three things will remain forever:
These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
St Paul: 1 Corinthians 13. 13
Lord, so loving this world you gave your only dear Son, who laid down His life so that we might have life and enjoy Your Presence for ever –
Grant to us, in these uncertain times
The certainty of your love holding us and all whom we love, safe in the palm of your hand.
We give you thanks for today and all we have shared it with and for the Bread which truly comes down from Heaven
This post is, in reality a Testimony from Bernadette Marshall, a quietly spoken church member, she wondered if it was suitable for the paper version of our Church Magazine; her final words are a question. She asks, “How ordinary are you?
We know, from turning over the pages of our New Testaments, that the first Church was fashioned in the fiery furnace of persecution and affliction, all of those gathered in the Upper Room had a Baptism of fire 🔥 these first followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and bearers of the Cross, were not at first called “Christians”
We read that Saul who became Paul,
Still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
So, at first followers of Jesus were known as Followers of the Way..not Christians, it was only after many more persecutions and the conversion of Saul/Paul that disciples began to be called Christians at a city called Antioch. You can read about that in Acts chapter 11, verses 19 – 26
Now here is Bernadette:
Last year I was busy sticking up our church poster for the Christmas fayre in my works coffee room. A colleague came to look and said “You go to church?”
“Yes” I replied,” I’m a Christian”
She stuttered and said…”But, but you are ordinary!”
So I’ve been thinking about my colleagues reply…
YES I AM ORDINARY IF…
. I know Jesus is the only way to God
. I know Jesus died for me
. I know The Lord hears me
. I know he answers my prayers HIS way!
. I know The Lord is my Saviour
. I know God has a plan for me
. I know God forgives me
. I know God sent his only Son for me
. I know I’m surrounded by Gods love
. I know I believe
. I know The Lord is my Light and Salvation
I could go on, but I’m only ordinary. How ordinary are you?
Lord, who gives to all, many extraordinary gifts
Grant to us all extraordinary Grace to follow hard
On the heels of our Lord Jesus Christ that we stand firmly
For Him all our days, in times ordinary and extraordinary
In these past few weeks of Lockdown, gardens have been rediscovered, the sunshine, of the weeks extending from Easter until the end of May, praise the Lord for it have encouraged all fortunate enough to have a little piece of it – to sit out, dine out, work out, and enjoy out. How marvellously generous our Father is, when so many of us needed it, He sent ample proof of His abiding love in sunshine, birds, butterflies, green shoots, buds and flowers.
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there Heput the man He had formed. The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2: 8-9
The Lord God planted a garden In the first white days of the world, And He set there an angel warden In a garment of light enfurled.
So near to the peace of Heaven, That the hawk might nest with the wren, For there in the cool of the even God walked with the first of men.
And I dream that these garden-closes With their shade and their sun-flecked sod And their lilies and bowers of roses, Were laid by the hand of God.
The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth,– One is nearer God’s heart in a garden Than anywhere else on earth.
For He broke it for us in a garden Under the olive-trees Where the angel of strength was the warden And the soul of the world found ease.
These words were penned by Dorothy Frances Gurney (1858-1932) The words of the fourth verse are probably very familiar to many who are reading this, and often reproduced on ornamental plaques to put in the garden amongst the plants, and pots. Some of the other verses may not be so familiar but all are redolent with the fragrance of the garden and heart blessed by God.
They remind us that in our creativity and care of the earth we are fulfilling the Almighty’s pleasure just by caring for our small piece of it. Even if it’s just a window box, or plants on an inside window sill, there is much pleasure and delight in seeing the first seedlings appear and incredible joy when the first fruits and vegetables are picked.
The photos are published with the permission of Joyce and David Walker, who have delighted us with little peeks into their own beautiful garden, their little bit of paradise on earth. Isn’t it wonderful what two pairs of hands can make together? Multiply the hands and the larger, and better the job humankind can do in taking care of planet 🌎 Earth.
The last verse I find particularly poignant. Just as the heart of God was thrilled and delighted by the pleasure of Mankind, represented by Adam and Eve in the garden, planted somewhere east of Eden, so it was broken in the suffering of Jesus under the Olive Trees in Gethsemane. J
Lord, remember us,
We are like the flowers, the trees, the grass,
Short lived like the flitting butterfly and busy bee 🐝
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (N.I. V.)
I wonder, what the first disciples would make of Coronavirus, Lockdown and no gathering together in our church buildings? In those first days of course, once Peter and friends had been ‘banned’ from Temple and Synagogues, meetings were held in people’s homes, literally. I suppose, there were many occasions when just two or three were gathered together. Organ, choir, microphones, sound systems they did not have, joy, that they could not contain, that they did have. They were full of the Holy Spirit, new wine skins filled with the new wine of the Spirit. Nothing, absolutely nothing could stop them. Nothing absolutely nothing could prevent the Church and God’s Kingdom growing
Speaking of sound systems, meet a Sound Man. This is Mike Tandy and Joan his wife, and partner in all things. Mike has kept the microphones and sound system in good, sound condition, for at least 30 years.
Is the lesson Reader a little on the short side? Can’t reach the mic?
Not to worry Mike will fix it… and it’s not just the sound. He lends a hand with. Together with Brian, Marian, Carole, and a whole crew of other “ship-mates, Mike is truly a sound man to have on board. Joan is never far away, his right hand (wo)man … together they are an awesome twosome.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour; if either of them falls down, one can help the other up
After this the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, to send workers into His harvest field”
Luke 10. 1-2
Wherever, we are whether we are one or two, or more. There is one thing we may all do, as we await the re-opening of Church Buildings, Businesses, Shops we can pray. There are many things to pray for. Beginning with people affected by the virus, for those bereaved for those whose wedding plans are put on hold, for those, and they are many, who reaching out for God during these days have found Him and are asking what they do next?
We can pray like sound men and women, young and old that the harvest is safely gathered in
God of Mercy and of Grace,
We ask your blessing on all who are suffering as a result of this pandemic. Wherever they may be, whether in families, twos or ones, may they know that You are truly with them, and with Your help overcome all present trials and troubles, give to all sound hearts and minds guarded by Your peace.
For Jesus sake, who lived and died and rose again, that all might have Eternal Life
Today, the altar would have worn its red dress, the flower arrangers would have celebrated in their beautiful way, and we would have filled the sacred space with music. The Coronavirus Pandemic changed all of that, the Church Building was left to itself, alone and empty but the Church Members were still together in Spirit. Revd. John Bridge led us in a thoughtful reflection and prayer by online video.
The Church isthe Body of Christ
Pentecost reminds us of this,
The festival of Shavu’ot (Pentecost) arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place. Suddenly there came a sound like the roar of a violent, rushing wind, filling the whole house where they sat. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which separated and came to rest on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in different languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
Wherever that house was, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter did not come to bless the house, but the people and believers gathered there. It was the people who went out into the street and began to praise God and proclaim Jesus as Lord and Saviour. About 3000 other people became believers that day, they came as “living stones’ and as “living stones” with hands and feet; hands to reach out and take the hands of others, feet to walk and run and dance; mouths and tongues to tell, hearts, and mouths to sing.
The building in which they gathered on that Pentecost morning has long gone. The people, the believers, have gone – from strength to strength. The flesh and blood remains, the Living Body of Christ. The people are the Church.
The people missed the Cake and Pentecost Lunch/Party that would have followed over in the Church Hall, especially we missed the cake; wherever Rowley’s people are having fellowship together there must be cake. Today the Hall also stood alone, empty, yet the Church still met together as we held one another in our hearts and thoughts we were met in Christ… He was with us… the Church is more than just a Building. The Church is the People.
To the People in its infant days, Saint Paul sent these words in a letter.
“Now You together make up the body of Christ and individually you are parts of it; and God has placed in the body, (church) .. first, Apostles, second, prophets, third, teachers; then those who work miracles; those with gifts of healing; those with ability to help, those skilled in administration, and those who speak in various tongues.
I Corinthians 12. 27-28
And here are two of St Giles gifted people. Carole keeps the P.C.C. Minutes in good order, her tools of trade include notebook and pencil, shorthand, Carole organises Fund Raising Events, Flower Festivals, Social Events and the, oh so welcome, Parish Outing. Girl Friday is just about right in our modern day equivalent of the 1 Corinthians 12 passage. Where would churches and organisations be without people like Carole?
And this is Yvonne Owen, Church Wardens are there for everyone, got a problem, call in the Wardens. If they can’t fix it, they will find someone who can. Think something is a little bit on the unfair side, balancing things up, weighing things up, Wardens can be relied on to get the mix right, just as easily as Yvonne produces cake… cake to celebrate, cake to share, all with kindness and firmness, cake making and Church wardening require skills of judgement, to gauge the right ingredients, the right quantities. So here’s to Yvonne..
Good Father of us all,
Watch over us in these times of pandemic,
And dis-ease. And watch between us,
Especially, Father we pray for those of us with
No internet, no smart phone, those who are truly alone,
Bless their days and their nights: enfolding them in
Your loving protective arm, until we can hold them,
And give them the hug they so long for.
Your church is not the building but the people, and
Whatever skills or talents, position or place we may have;
We have all learnt from your grace that the best of your
Gifts at Pentecost is Love.
Therefore give us love, Holy, Heavenly Love, and
Let us pursue love!
And let us all say Amen!
Prayer: Tides and Tidings
Next time, perhaps some of our menfolk will say hello!
I am a plain, ordinary everyday woman, who loves bread, and life. Sometimes I am a bit crusty, sometimes a little soft, it all depends how I get out of bed in the morning.
That is not how Jesus is.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”
Hebrews 13: 8
Long time, church member Nellie Bird used this verse a lot, life had its ups and downs for Nellie, as it does for us all, yet she was always confident that her Lord and Saviour was with her through it all, that troubles taken to the Lord in prayer were troubles He made His own, and in time her prayers were answered as it was best for her and those she prayed for. Nellie had made a choice as a young woman which she never regretted. She had chosen Christ as the one to follow, whatever delicacies were laid out on life’s table, she always chose the Bread of Life.
Everyday bread takes time to make, dough needs much work, takes time to prove and time to bake. It also needs that mysterious substance, yeast
Written like God’s E-mail address,
In years gone by
It was the name for yeast,
Whose origin, like Manna’s
No one knew. And so
They called it goddisgoode
Because, they said,
It come through of the grace of Godde.
That is the heart of all.
Just as the scriptures sometimes teach that yeast (leaven) can be a bad thing, as St Paul writes concerning the the old yeast of malice and evil (1 Corinthians 5: 6-8) .. if you have ever had “yeast go off” at home, you will know just what he means ~ they also teach us about the good, new yeast of the Kingdom of Heaven;
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until it was all leavened
Teach us to choose, well
You have given us so much, we all have
Received, bountifully from your hand all that is needful
To sustain us on our Life’s journey, help us to choose
The fresh, and wholesome teaching of the Kingdom,
That we may be good, bread, and wholesome,
Broken and blessed in Jesus,
Shared and tasted with pleasure at Your Holy Table.
Friday, 8th May 2020, a Sunny Day, and despite Coronavirus, a day to remember and give thanks for that, day, 75 years ago when Victory in Europe was finally ensured after 5 years of fighting and anguish.
This year’s special planned events and celebrations were quietly sabotaged by the global Pandemic, which although not reducing cities to rubble, nations crushed under tanks, has caused devastation nonetheless and like actual warfare, tragic consequences for people in 187 countries, with recorded deaths of 300,000 globally..
A silent enemy wreaking havoc.
An indiscriminate enemy taking away the rich as well as the poor. Victory over this wicked Virus still remains to be won. In the U.K. as during WWII ordinary people are all doggedly committed to do their part.
As Friday 8th May neared… tea parties in homes, back gardens, front gardens were planned and achieved…bunting and flags came out with tea and cakes, songs were sung, memories were recalled as they were around the world… … many nations remembering, giving thanks. Many nations together will also defeat this disease with the Lord as our helper the battle will be won. May God grant that when that victory is ours, we will not forget the hungry, homeless, and oppressed peoples in the world but march and work together to rebuild a fairer world, and a world where the ogres of greed are defeated and the earth which out which comes our daily bread is allowed to breathe and heal, in the same way as Coronavirus patients.
Out in the Sunshine on Friday with tea and cake, were our beloved Dennis and Barbara Callow, Dennis is fighting his own personal battle with illness and giving the enemy many a well aimed blow, Barbara is his beloved wife and personal coach. We posted this photo just for you Dennis and Barbara, thank you for your wonderful love, support and encouragement through the years, and the many cups of tea, coffee and cake provided after Sunday Morning Services.
The Peony waved as the Victory Flag in the Garden for Reverend Barrie Roberts and his beloved Wife Katie. Both are looking eagerly to seeing the Coronavirus battle won.
Father, we pray for peace on earth and goodwill among all people. We ask yourblessing on the work of all who strive for both justice and peace, for all who work forthe healing of theNations and for all the ills of the world, and especially those who seek a vaccine in the battle against Coronavirus, on those who care for the sick and ease the sufferings of others. We pray for all who seek to bring unity and friendship between nations and for all who give themselves to be salt and light in the world in union with Christ Jesus, our Lord.
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come to the still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free
As I watered the plants on the window sill, I heard the sound of childish giggles and watched as children found delight in discovering grass, buttercups and daisies they could play in under Mom’s watchful eye.
As the weeks of Lockdown roll by, more and more family groups are coming to explore the wide grass verge and bombard Moms and Dads with queries, “What’s this one called?” And, “What’s that tree?” Sometimes Mom or Dad will know the answer and sometimes not. Many today have lost touch with the wild things. Today’s children do not enjoy the freedom to roam many of us older people had when growing up, freedom to search out wild flower specimens to take home and press flat, with the help of a stack of books piled on top. And yet more and more want to be sure that the flowers, butterflies, bees, birds and trees are going to be there when their own children and grandchildren are grown up.
It is such a shame that not all have a garden of their own to take refuge in during Lockdown days. To live in an apartment or high rise flat with no Balcony must be no fun at all. To have the responsibility of family, especially children to feed and take care of must be a dreadful worry for many.
I think Jesus understood that, when He spoke about the birds of the air
Look at the birds flying about! They neither plant nor harvest,nor do they gather food into barns: yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they are?”
Matthew 6:26 (CJB)
Well, yes. We are worth more than many sparrows to our Heavenly Father and we can trust Him to take care of us and we can like Wendell Berry find the “peace of the Wild things” and “rest in the grace of the world” – freedom from our worries. Even the simplest pot plant on a window sill, buttercups and daisies in a jar, and the briefest flash of a butterfly wing can lift our spirits. Imagine yourself as the smallest bird and let your heart and mind settle in God our rest and nest.
Father, we pray for all those who are worried about what tomorrow may bring, all who are shut in with no garden, all who live alone and rely on Carers to help them with the ordinary things of life, like getting up in the morning and getting in bed at night. Those who need someone to remind them to take their medication: those who worry about them. Those who stand by to come to our aid at the drop of a hat, paramedics, ambulance crew, firefighters and police. We pray for those who cannot rest for fear someone needs them. Lord we pray for all these, for all who are sick, for all who are dying that they may hear your beloved and gentle voice calling them to come home to the nest the Lord Jesus has carefully made for them. How could your love do otherwise? In The Name of Jesus we ask it.