Year End

The past few weeks have been busy, jam-packed with happy memories. Here are just a few.

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A busy craft table at Messy Church, 6th December. Numbers are growing at Messy Church life is getting exciting and real messy. Thought it best not to choose the photo of the marbles rolling in ink!

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The Christmas Fayre November 28th: There was plenty of Frozen Magic with princesses Anna and Elsa … The ice castle was perfect to hide away Santa, thank you Princess Elsa. The cake stall attracted plenty of visitors, getting to crowded for photos so here are a couple taken as it was being set up.

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St Giles looked really stunning this year, here are just a few photos, Carol Annetts and team created little spaces for quiet contemplation amongst the twinkling lights of Christmas Trees, there was s smaller tree in every window space, plenty of oohs and aahs from visiting infant and primary schools. This year Blackheath Primary, Rowley Hall, Westminster Special School and St Michaels Church School all held their Carol Services in Church.

Our own Carol Service with St Giles Singers under the direction of Mrs Agata Beaman, was attended by The Worshipful Mayor of Sandwell, Councillor Price her consort Councillor Bob Price, and Deputy Mayor Councillor Julie Price. Tenor, Brian Williams gave a solo rendition of Susser die Glockenspiel nie Klingon – sweeter the bells never sound ~ St Michael’s brass band bought the evening by reminding us “That it’s only just begun” Truly a memorable 9 Lessons and Carols.

The crib Service, 4:00pm Christmas Eve was very well attended, visiting children were invited to take part in telling the Christmas story as they came in, no child refused, and with Agata’s gentle encouragement sang Away in a Manger with a tenderness that bought tears to some eyes.

The Midnight Eucharist saw church filled to capacity, and the simple service on Christmas morning, bought visitors from Perth, Australia and Durban, South Africa.

The stained glass window depicting Saint Joseph, Virgin Mary and baby can be found in Saint Giles Lady Chapel. The crown of thorns and holly berries found on the Lady Chapel window sill remind us that the baby in the Manger became the Saviour on the Cross.

Happy New Year everyone. May you be blessed!

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The Nativity (beneath the altar)

A Time to Keep

My Dad’s clock stopped.

For 60 years it gave faithful service, counting moments, one by one, it’s steady tick lulled Mum’s only grand daughter to sleep on childhood sleepovers, and kept Mum company in old age. She always called it “your Dad’s clock” dusted it, moving it carefully, it was her pride: Mum outlived Dad by 36 years, and his clock outlived him by 49.

I bought a new one, with carved, wooden housing like, the old one. The new one has a modern quartz movement and no tick.

I told my sister, ‘I’ve put the old one on Mum’s dresser. I can’t bring myself to throw it out’

Always the practical one, she said,’You can’t keep everything.’

But, I guess I can keep the old clock a bit longer, just as I keep my mother’s diaries,

Mostly, Mum recorded the weather. Visits from growing grandchildren, and my two brothers and sister, are reported faithfully, times when they were ill, her worries and concerns for us all, our joys were her joys. Gathered together they tell the story of Mum’s life, and that of her family. They provide dates for half forgotten events, they tell us the way we were.

Kept safely for us in Smethwick Library Archive are issues of St Giles Parish Magazine from over 100 years ago. They too tell people’s stories, they Chronicle long forgotten events, record milestones. They bring to life that gone-forever Rowley Village known to our grandparents, great grandparents; they are a Treasure worth keeping.

Today’s Magazine still ‘keeps’ the names of newlyweds, the names of the newly baptised, and the names of those called home. Church events are reported on, dates are noted and people share their stories. “Around the Congregation” is very popular, a different person, (not always a church member) opens up their book of life for us

While it may be true that we don’t have celebrities amongst us, we certainly do have those whose live’s are worth sharing, those whose stories inspire and challenge us. This is how it should be. We learn from one another, and each of us, aware of it or not, is adding moment by moment to the history of our times.

Maybe, thinking nothing interesting, nothing worth recording ever happens to you, you’ve never kept a Diary – perhaps you should think again. Perhaps in years to come an entry that begins
“It was our Sue’s birthday today,” and goes on to describe your thoughts, your feelings, even that it rained, will be treasure to Sue and Sue’s children.

Remember,

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 6)

We live in a world of searching people, seeking people, looking for their roots, meaning for their lives, the keeping of a diary, is good time keeping, our life stories are the very fabric of time.

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Speak from the heart

Not all our days are sunny, life is rough sometimes.
Sometimes we need a quiet corner to hide away,
Sometimes the words we want to say don’t come easily, and the friendly listener we really need is God. But how do we speak to God?

Speak from the heart, as if someone is listening, someone who, in the dead of night, does not sleep, but keeps wide awake in case one of His children should cry”
George MacDonald (1824-1905)

Haven’t spoken to God just lately?

Well that’s how it is with all of us sometimes,

That’s how it was for this wayward child,

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him, he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
(Luke 15:20) N.I.V.

Speak from your heart. God is listening.

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