The welcoming heart

We don't have to live in a palace;
And dine on gourmet dishes;
We don't have to wear silks and satins,diamonds, pearls,
All, we need to do is open
the door of the heart ♥
and invite the King of Glory in:
He who is gentle and humble of heart ♥

I don’t know who painted the picture. I do know that the Lord Jesus makes his home with those who are humble of heart and will receive him.

“You say,” I am rich: I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing” But you do not realise that, you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.”

Revelation 3.17-18

The Lord sees those things about our self that we do not see. He knows that living in this world can make us deaf to his knocking on the hearts door, if we open the door, will we recognize the poor man standing there? Is there anything attractive in his lowly garments? And, look, his feet are bare.

Do we say, “Be off! We don’t want your sort bothering us?”

The Lord never comes knocking wearing the golden crown… he didn’t when he came knocking on doors in Bethlehem, Nazareth and in Jerusalem, the ‘City of the Great King’ they didn’t recognise him at all… it was there that they gave him, a crown, they thought suited him… a crown of thorns.

Lord,
Come in.
I don't have much to offer
But such as I have I give you.
I don't have wealth,
I don't have position
I don't have power.
I don't have learning,
I don't in fact have anything at all to offer-
Yet, Lord, this I know;
The good Shepherd leads and assures me;
He will supply my every need:
The wants and needs of all whom I love, he will supply - these.
For he hears my heart ♥
And the welcome embrace it offers
Is returned,
Grace on Grace.
I don't live in a palace,
But you are welcome in my heart ♥

‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me’

Revelation 3. 19 N.I.V.
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October nearly gone please click here to read rest of posy.

Through All The Changing Scenes of Life

Autumn Confetti

October brings its own blessings as the year in church progresses slowly towards short hours of daylight and long hours of darkness… I always feel October is as much about the hope of new beginnings as it is about the summer’s ending.

True, the leaves are falling, thick and fast now as the trees prepare for winter’s sleep but within the trees that is just part and parcel of Spring’s revival, new shoots, new greens.

Always during this month, this old hymn comes to mind, with memories of Evensung and choir friends now singing with a far greater choir in heaven. Like most hymns of its age it is based on a Psalm, Psalm 34 in this instance, the tune that goes through my head when singing at home is ‘Wiltshire’ written by Sir G Smart, 1776-1867.  The words are by N Tate and N. Brady … the Ancient and Modern Hymnal (revised) has in brackets (New Version).

Through all the changing scenes of life,                       In trouble and in joy,                             The  praises of my God shall still                        
My heart and tongue employ.
O magnify the Lord with me,                       with me exalt his name;                               When in distress to him I called,                  He to my rescue came.

 

Verses 1 and 2, say or sing it all for me.

Spring, summer, autumn and winter, the Lord created, all four, he gave us all our days and when we came into this lovely world he wished for us all, joy, love and peace and perhaps when we are troubled, uncertain or afraid of how our future days will unfold,we might remind ourselves that our Saviour Christ knew in his earthly walk the same trials and troubles we know, if our way is difficult, sad or painful…. so was his… Remember Gethsemane, Golgotha, the Cross, the borrowed tomb… the empty tomb… He is our Risen Lord… First the trials, then the glory and his promise to be with us, always.

Amongst the fallen leaves I see the promise of the life that is still to come and “unfailing sympathy, undying love.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16.33 (N.I.V.)

What can we say

His Majesty King Charles 111

What can we say?

How shall we pray?


Whoever we are, whatever our status we all pass through this world but once. None of us can stay.

All of us know what it is to pass through the darkest valley but the Good Shepherd walks with His Sheep, caring for our sadness all the way…. in His earthly walk Jesus also passed through that darkest valley. The Son of Man wept for His father Joseph, the Carpenter of Nazareth, for his cousin John the Baptist and for his friend Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethany.


In our prayers let us remember that Kings know sadness too and pray for our new King that he may know our Shepherds care all the days of his life, and that we with His Majesty may follow the Shepherd and be led on the right paths.
Amen

This was shared to a small group of prayerful friends not all belonging to St Giles Church in Rowley but all beloved servants of the Lord Jesus Christ who taught all who follow Him to take the humblest place … as Jesus. truly the Servant King did amongst men and women.

Many tears have been shed for Her Majesty our late Queen Elizabeth II,.. who also shed during her lifetime many tears… In weeping, we should recall the beautiful precious tears Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. Holy and precious they sanctify the tears of all who weep…

God counts our tears precious, and precious to us who weep this promise

Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces

Isaiah 25.v.8 NRSV

Logos Doulos-Hope

Logos Doulos

The word for the day, was Logos which of course is the Greek word for Word and as every Bible reading Christian knows used as a title for Jesus Christ himself, the incarnate Word of God.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and The Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”

John 1. 1-3. KJV

St Giles uses the NRSV in our services but because the word logos took my thoughts away back in time – a time when my everyday Bible was King James and because when a verse is recalled my recollection is usually verses remembered from that one, I used them here. Very quickly from that my mind took a time jump to the ship Logos, and a visit made with friends to the ship and very happily for me it’s book store, when it made a visit to the Port of Bristol

And then my travelling mind took another leap to Doulos and Hope you can read about them herehttps://www.om.org/ships/logos

Doulos meaning servant bought my mind to rest on Onesimus, the runaway slave who carried the letter addressed to Philemon back to his Master Philemon in Colosse, a plucky thing to do, but Onesimus now converted by the Apostle Paul did so – together with Tychicus and with them also the letter to the Colossians… in a post script to my old KJV it does suggest that Philemon may have acted as Paul’s secretary in writing it down as it was dictated by Paul. Servants/slaves were not necessarily uneducated in those days and this may be entirely true. Here’s a little snippet from the N.I.V

Paul’s Plea for Onesimus

For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me. I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced. Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

Later on it appears that Onesimus may have gone on to become a Bishop of Ephesus proving indeed to be really ‘useful’ as a servant of the Word as Paul predicted. From reading this small one chapter New Testament letter my thoughts were bought to focus on the restrictions and deprivation of Paul, imprisoned because and for the service of the Word, to those likewise in our own times. I thought and prayed for them and then my thoughts settled on the new Logos ‘Hope’

Please, if you can find a little time to read the very short letter to Philemon in whatever Bible you have, and then turn to the other letter carried back to Colosse from Rome…. Colossians in which Paul reminds all Christians there that the head of the Body (Church) is the Lord Jesus himself, we all have One Master, One Lord whether we are the man/woman who offers us tea at the end of the Service or the Bishop! It is Christ who sets us all free.

Now may the God of all hope, fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit

Adapted from Romans 15.13

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

‘God Save the Queen’

Words from Reverend John Bridge as St Giles gets ready to celebrate the 70 Years Reign of our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth II

John writes,

This year we celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, 70 years as Queen, and whether you believe that her role is a call from God, it is certain that as Queen, she is ‘set apart’ in her position as monarch and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

The Jubilee will be celebrated around the world and especially in the Commonwealth countries. It’s tempting to call Britain and the Commonwealth a Queendom, but apparently a Queendom is not a kingdom ruled by a Queen, but one where the line of succession always runs through the female line.

 

When the Queen celebrated 60 years on the throne, she said in a special message released for that occasion: “

“As I mark sixty years as your Queen, I dedicate myself anew to your service. I hope that we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness.”

 

It was a remarkable statement and I was especially struck by the words “convening strength” in the Queen’s message. Daily experience often seems to suggest that we are a society of strangers.

 

But over the past 70 years the Monarchy has proved over and over again its “convening strength” and a capacity to encourage the development of a community which can give colour and encouragement to our individual lives.

 

Monarchy of course has ancient and biblical roots from the time that Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon King and all the people cried “God save the King”. What we celebrate as we remember Queens Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee is part of something ancient and stands for continuity and rituals over many centuries.

 

During the 70 years of the Queens reign our world and our country have changed profoundly. The Empire abroad has declined dramatically, and at home we have an ever-changing multi-cultural society. The demise of the old world and the arrival of the new, has involved sometimes painful adjustments.

 

But the Queen and the Royal Family have reached out to this new and evolving British community with quiet dignity (apart from the odd gaff by Prince Phillip!), which provides a focus for continuing and expanding the respect of everyone who lives in our country, everyone who is our neighbour, and so has helped the peaceful transformation of our national identity and maintained the unity that Jesus often speaks about.

 

The celebrations that will be happening over the weekend at the start of June suggests that monarchy is not just something ancient, but something modern and relevant as well.  

 

The Queen embodies themes in our common life together; the themes of birth and death, love and loss. To place such a person as the Queen and the Monarchy at the heart of our life as a nation is to honour humanity above all things and above all divisive ideologies and party politics.

 

And in this way our constitution is very modern. It is common for many heads of state to try and combine political power with the aura and special status that comes from representing the whole nation. I’m not sure that’s something we can say about Boris Johnson. 

 

In the United Kingdom our head of state, our Queen is very different. What her reign represents honours humanity with some very definite characteristics of the kind which bind a community together.

 

 

Our community includes people of different faiths and of no faith. But a profound relationship with God can only be developed by those who have freely chosen to respond to His call. It is a Christian trait to be tolerant because we believe so much in the importance of the free response to God’s call.

 

While there is scepticism whenever those in the political realm invoke God, it has been possible for the Queen with her very different role to be steadily more explicit in her Christmas broadcasts about her own faith in Jesus Christ which sustains her work.

 

The cost of this call and way of life is so great that it is right to regard it in sacrificial terms. The job has been done with conspicuous dedication over the past 70 years, and her whole life in the public eye. The Queen embodies the truth at the heart of our life as a nation that the kingdom of God and a humane society is built, yes by political power and policy, but also and perhaps most profoundly by the human touch, loving and unwearied service, and attention to others.

 

Christian monarchy today embodies not a set of policies or the pinnacle of a hierarchical social order but a life, a fully human life, lived in the presence and calling of God who dignifies all humanity. Such a life which is open to us all is the essential ingredient from which the Kingdom; God’s plan for the human race, grows and remains unified.

 

The Queens Platinum Jubilee then is a time to speak about those things and remind ourselves and others about community, about service and love of others. 

 

St Peter sums it all up when he writes: “Honour everyone, Love the Community, Fear God and Honour the Sovereign”. Amen.

Looking Back and Looking Forwards

Since the reign of King John, Rowley has had a church on top of the hill, sadly we “have been a little clumsy” as former Church Warden Ken Hadley used to put it, and managed to lose 3 buildings the one we now have is our 4th .. almost, but not quite 100 years old.

Since the days of Henry VIII, St Giles has enjoyed the privilege of being able to clothe its Servers and Singers in Red, since a cousin of Henry, Isabella used to take Mass here, Henry kindly granted us the honour of being a Royal Chapel.

Plans are now are now being made for the celebration of the buildings 100th year but before then, we shall, of course be marking Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, over the Jubilee weekend 4/5th June.

And never to be forgotten Mrs Kathleen Harris with her invitation to receive Maundy Money from our much younger queen. Over very many years, Mary as she was known raised many thousands of pounds for Charitable Causes including the Childrens’ Society and Cancer Research. She was also our Church Hall Secretary from its opening of doors in the 1950s until no longer mobile and even then hosted Hall Committee Meetings in her home, with her successor Pat Dyas tucking her up for the night before we all left… R.I.P. Mary you were a Queen yourself.

The photograph is old, copied from a newspaper clipping, please excuse the quality … Mary deserved her place in our Church History and the place she still occupies in many hearts.

Mary Harris with her Maundy Invitation

We look back…

We look forward..

But always our prayer…

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

New Fire

Eternal God, who made this most holy night to shine with the brightness of your one true light: set us aflame with the fire of your love, and bring us to the radiance of your heavenly glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The break of day and the New Fire is lit in St Giles Churchyard. Revd Barrie Roberts standing well back, just in case, whilst Revd John Bridge blesses the fire asking that our hearts also might be set ablaze with holy love.

Easter Day 17th April 2022, the first Easter Celebrated in Church since 2019 … before Coronavirus19, and the first Easter Services in Church for Revd. John [admitted to office in those dark March days of 2020 with legal documents being signed online witnessed by our two Parish Representatives Yvonne Owen and Ken Hadley). I am sure this day marks a new milestone in the history of our ancient parish, that New Fire has truly been lit

“On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn”

Would it not have been wonderful to have been one of those women who with tearful eyes and trepidation approached the tomb, determined to go, and carry out a last act of love for their dear Teacher and friend and find the stone rolled away, the body of Jesus not there! To be met by two angels who asked gravely but kindly “Why look among the dead, for someone who is alive? He is not here. He has risen”

The big adventure for Christians who encounter our Risen, Living Saviour for themselves began with the feet of women running, running to tell the apostles that the tomb was empty, with messages from angels and so

And the adventure continues with many running feet, and same message… we don’t look for an empty tomb we find the Living, Risen Saviour within us, even as he promised, walking along the way with us, setting our hearts on fire 🔥

Lord of all life and power,

who through the mighty resurrection of your Son,

overcame the old order of sin and death

to make all things new in him:

grant that we, being dead to sin

and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with him in glory;

to whom with you and the Holy Spirit

be praise and honour, glory and might,

now and in all eternity

Amen

Easter flowers arranged by Enid Hadley

Scripture quotation Luke 24.5 JB

Collect and Blessing of New Fire from Common Worship: Services and prayers for the Church of England copyright Archbishops Council 2000

New Fire and On the First Day of the week photographs by Yvonne Owen


There is no hiding place

We are all the same, but different!

So you think,

You can hide!

Blend in

No one will know you are here,

Hidden away,

Incognito!

Oh my friend, you are so wrong;

One in heaven knows you are here and

There is no hiding place for you, He knows –

Your name –

It’s written on the palm of His hand;

Knows your thoughts too –

Every single one, the bad as well as the good.

You know what?

My friend the Holy One, bends low

To whisper your name,

Not your neighbours name –

Your name.

You know what my friend?

God is calling you by name.

He wants you!

For the day that He makes up His jewels.

What should your answer be?

What else except…..

“Here I am Lord!”

From a pew filler who thought it better not to add their name to this.

The writer had in mind the KJV of Malachi 3. 17 where we hear that those written in his book of remembrance would be his ‘jewels’ newer translations read treasure, or as in NRSV…. His special possession on the Day when the Lord acts he says,

“They shall be mine, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them as parents spare their children who serve them.” Then once more you shall see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.”

When asked why, they thought a person might possibly want to remain incognito, hidden away in a church congregation, the writer wrinkled up their brow and said,

“It’s a scary thing when the Lord calls our name, he might want us to do something we don’t want to do, go somewhere we don’t want to go, leave things behind. Oh yes it’s scary. So very scary to be different, to stand out … some just don’t want to be known, as well, a Christian… all sorts of reasons really… it’s better to be an “undercover agent” than the one who sticks their head above the parapet”

“Oh,” I said.

And left it at that.

Well, would do. If I didn’t keep seeing these nail marks in Jesus’ hands

Running on Grace

Nicky: “Runng late again! But see you SOON”

Jean: “Wish I could run”

Nicky: ” I don’t run anymore But know I need to start running more – towards Jesus”

Nicky is the younger with husband, two young adult children and a job as a Teaching Assistant keeping her on the go No time for running Shoes.

Jean is the the older woman, who can only sigh for the times when ‘The Springfield Whippet” was her nickname.

Revd Barrie just recovered from Covid, regularly dons his running shoes and to ease his way back to fitness is preparing to deliver the Easter ‘flyers’ through Rowley’s letter boxes.

“It will do him good,” Dr Katie, Barrie’s wife told Churchwarden, Yvonne.

So three people, five with Yvonne who does her running, her way, and Dr Katie all running, ON GRACE.

Everyone entered in the race of life is running on GRACE.

And I run toward the goal to take the victory of the calling of God from on high in Christ Jesus

Philippians 3:14 ~ my paraphrase

As we all know life sometimes trips us up, gets us down. I share the following story, a true one from a faithful runner who knows trips, falls, tears and many smiles in the hope that it may encourage someone.

“I have always known God’s secret stairs. You know the ones I mean; he comes down them sometimes to sit on the one just outside our bedroom door and listen to our prayers. I have always known those stairs, stone ones, marble ones stretching from his house in heaven, perhaps the self-same ones Jacob saw when he laid his head on his stony pillow at Bethel, Well, I was so tired, so low in spirits, that I pressed my face into my pillow and just cried. One of those times when you don’t have the words to make the prayers, even if you knew how to pray… so I just cried. Then I heard the footsteps. Someone, a man’s footsteps, running down those secret stores, down, down they came swiftly like a man on an urgent errand, right down, straight past my bedroom door, fading into silence. I stopped crying. I think my heart may have stopped momentarily. Had Jesus passed me by? Then the footsteps began again, from a long, long way down, – this time running upwards to come to a stop right outside the door. A tap on the door,

“Everything all right in there? Really thought you’d slipped right down to the bottom there. Didn’t you know I would be right with you?”

The person who tells this story, remembers laughing with joy at this point; and says no matter how bad things get, however much we want to give up, we should just listen out for his footsteps on the secret stairs. When we need him most and cannot run for Jesus or run to him because of lack of fitness in our body, heart or mind, at our lowest point The Lord will always come running to us.

O God, make speed to save us.

O Lord, make haste to help us.

From Common Worship – Evening Prayer