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…


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


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,


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

Hello Martin … Good to Welcome You Back

Revd John Bridge and Martin Platts .. Photo Yvonne Owen

Our new Organist, just in time for Easter is not really new at all!

Martin was organist prior to Agata. The Sunday he said goodbye to us our friend Dennis Callow told him very sternly.

“You’ll be back!”

Prophecy fulfilled. In the interval between the departure of Agata Beaman and family for their home in Poland the organ was under the care of Dr Ian Sykes a GP and deft wielder of stethoscope and we were blessed, so grateful for Dr Ian’s deft fingers on the keyboard enabling our songs of praise … music really is good medicine for the soul … as we waited for the coming of a “New Organist”

So thank you Ian .. we look forward to hearing you sounding out Easter Praise on the Trumpet please 🙏

Welcome home Martin. You are looking good and sounding good.

Today, the Gospel Reading was the Parable of the Prodigal Son. But the story of the Prodigal’s return did n’t end there. Oh no! Revd. John was reminded loudly by Church Warden Yvonne from the back of church that someone was missing from the story… who had every reason to complain …. Mothering Sunday and the Fourth Sunday of Lent happily combined … thanks to John and Yvonne for an entertaining sermon for our All Age Communion Service. Rowley really does have it’s fair share of talented people

The Collect

God of love,

passionate and strong,

tender and careful:

watch over us and hold us

all the days of our life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord

God bless and be with all mothers, children, fathers everywhere, remembering especially the families of Ukraine. The Lord watch over you and bring your time of suffering and sadness to a swift and happy end, Our hearts 💕 weep with yours.

From Me to You~ Words for Advent ~ John

Words from our Vicar, Revd. John Bridge as Advent Begins

Lift up your hearts to the coming King

The start of December means that Advent is upon us, Christmas not far off, the season of joy, friendship and celebration. But the reality is often of family and financial pressures, a world where consumerism takes the place of preparing for the coming of Christ. And this year we have the added threat of renewed COVID restrictions which may or may not change our plans.

Advent is a very busy time of year, and it’s easy to think that maybe Jesus could have born when there wasn’t so much else going on! But it’s important that we try to make time to open our hearts and prepare for the coming of Christ.

The prophet Isaiah writes, “The people who walked in darkness
   have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
   on them light has shined.”

Whilst Isaiah acknowledges that we all sometimes experience dark times, he also looks forward to the idea of a coming light.

Isaiah writes about a coming event that will bring great joy. So what is Isaiah looking forward to? It seems that God is announcing a birth, and a coronation or enthronement of an earthly king who will be proclaimed as God’s son.

There are various expressions that Isaiah uses (9:6); ‘Wonderful Counsellor’ speaks of potential achievements of a king. ‘Mighty God’ implies a divine king. ‘Everlasting Father’ means that this saviour will be a father, a protector. And ‘Prince of Peace’ means freedom from war.

It’s hardly surprising that early Christians applied these words to Jesus. Just as the author of this section of Isaiah is looking forward to a new ruler, a new kind of king, so we are looking forward to this coming Advent to make space for Christ. It’s important that we try to make space for a fresh encounter with Jesus at Advent. I think that’s why the gospel accounts of his birth offer so many different angles from which to view the birth of Christ- the perspective of the parents, his aunt and uncle, shepherds doing a days work, far away wise men and nearby despots. Even the perspective of prophets, such as Isaiah, from centuries before Jesus’ birth.

All of these different perspectives help us to have a fresh vision of the coming Christ. There are three themes that we find in Isaiah and which also run through Advent.

First, waiting, it is important to wait on God. It is important to talk to God about how we feel. And it also important to spend some time in prayer and silence and wait for him to respond to us.

Second, Patience, as we wait on God we must be patient. Those reading about the king that Isaiah prophesied would see no fulfilment until centuries after it was written. Hopefully we won’t have to wait that for long for answers to prayer.

Third, Watchfulness, whilst we wait on God it is important to keep watch for God, to see him in those around us, to think of something that we can look forward too and thank God for it.

The season of Advent is about waiting, watching and patience. When we pray it can be difficult sometimes to be patient, it is difficult to wait and watch. But there is value in doing these things which during Advent may bring us closer to God and to a renewed sense of the miracle of Christmas in the coming of our Saviour

St Francis of Assisi

O God, you ever delight to reveal yourself

to the childlike and lowly of heart.

Grant that following the example of the blessed Francis,

we may count the wisdom of the world as foolishness

and know only Jesus Christ and Him crucified,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

One God, now and for ever

Common Worship collect for the Feast of St Francis – 4th October
I am God’s Creature too!

When I was a small girl, before housing estates arrived there were green fields and in those green fields horses, but mostly cows, and in one of them a bull. We avoided crossing that field for obvious reasons. Standing safely on the other side of the fence, we admired him though he was so strong he seemed to me, always calm and placid quite unlike the reputation our parents gave him… but then better safe than sorry.

What wisdom children have is received from their parents, grandparents and older siblings. Addressing our Father God the collect says “you ever delight to reveal yourself to the childlike and lowly of heart” Yes, I think that St Francis born, John Bernadone in 1181 must have had a heart that delighted God who finding such a listening, obedient heart gave him great insight into those things which angels desire to look into.

Let no one deceive himself. If any of you thinks he is wise in this age, he should become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” And again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” (Berean Bible 1 Corinthians 3.19)

Francis took delight in being a “fool” joyfully singing the praises of His God and King, joy in being a little one amongst all created things. Truly the joy of the Lord was his strength (Nehemiah 8,10)

Wisdom from St Francis

“If you were so clever and wise that you possessed all science, and if you knew how to interpret every form of language and to investigate heavenly things minutely, you could not glory in all this, because one demon has known more of heavenly things and still knows more of earthly things than all men … In like manner, if you were handsomer and richer than all others, and even if you could work wonders and put the demons to flight, all these things are hurtful to you and in nowise belong to you, and in them you cannot glory; that, however, in which we may glory is in our infirmities, and in bearing daily the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Admonitions, 5

Day by day, dear Lord help us also to take up the Cross and to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, and to it, unselfishly, preferring simple things before riches, others before ourselves.


Posted for Valerie a friend, and a friend of the animals


Bethany and her Ben

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.

Mabel and two of her lovely girls
Happy Bridesmaids
Happy Bride

And, a word from an Angel,

“Write this: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb’ And he said to me, “These are the true words of God”

Revelation 19.9 (E.S.V.)

Plum Choice

22 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5. N.I.V.